Connection as country: relational values of billabongs in Indigenous northern Australia

Shaina Russell, Emilie Ens, Ngukurr Yangbala Rangers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)


    Relational values have recently emerged in the sustainability and ecosystem valuation literature as a way to capture the diversity of human-ecosystem relationships. Relational values have been defined as preferences, principles and virtues about human-nature relationships. We describe participatory action research that aimed to elucidate the values associated with freshwater billabongs by Indigenous people in the Ngukurr community in the South East Arnhem land Indigenous Protected Area, northern Australia. Interviews with senior Indigenous knowledge holders revealed that values were strongly relational, i.e. relationships between people, and between people and Country and the inherent reciprocity of these relationships were important. We developed the “Connection as Country” framework towards conceptualising and understanding the relational values of Country from an Indigenous worldview. The “Connection as Country” framework encompasses four domains: spirituality, reciprocal kinship, knowledge and education and cultural subsistence. Broader and contextualised understandings of reciprocal human-ecosystem relationships is required for greater inclusion of Indigenous values in science-policy processes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number101169
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalEcosystem Services
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


    • Participatory action research
    • Human-ecosystem relationships
    • Relational values
    • Indigenous Ecological Knowledge
    • Wetland management
    • Indigenous water values
    • Cultural ecosystem services
    • Ecosystem valuation


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