Knowledge in sustainable resource management in Australia

Judith Preston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Sustainable development (SD) balances conservation and exploitation of natural resources. The concept mandates that biodiversity conservation and ecological integrity are fundamental considerations in environmental decision-making. Loss of biodiversity is a serious global issue and is one of Australia’s most pressing environmental problems. Increasing recognition of the role of indigenous knowledge (IK) is part of effective solutions to biodiversity loss and ways to achieve benefits for industry and agriculture. Research on IK provides information for understanding the role and importance of customary livelihoods within SD. The importance of combining indigenous and non-indigenous knowledge for conservation and resource management is reflected in the adoption of international principles and instruments which link SD, biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. There are a number of innovative tools being developed to embed IK principles into the legal framework for natural and cultural resource management. In Australia and globally, the focus remains on legal protection for IK through intellectual property, contract and trade practices law. There are important policies, programs and projects that value and use IK in Australia but they are piecemeal and generally unsupported by law. More comprehensive constitutionally-based and specific purpose-built legislative models are being developed in Europe, Asia and South America to incorporate IK into environmental decision-making which could be used as a blueprint for Australia. These legislative models should include provisions for the custodians of that IK, to have efficient and inexpensive access to courts and tribunals to enforce duties and protect rights in relation to sustainable resource management.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLegal aspects of sustainable development
Subtitle of host publicationhorizontal and sectorial policy issues
EditorsVolker Mauerhofer
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319260211
ISBN (Print)9783319260198
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Indigenous knowledge
  • sustainable development
  • traditional knowledge
  • Indigenous protected areas
  • environmental decision-making


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