The Ngurrara climate monitoring program: building partnerships through 2-way learning of traditional ecological knowledge and Western science

Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Peter Murray
Marmingee Hand

To the Ngurrara people of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia, water resources are of significant cultural and environmental value. For thousands of years Ngurrara people have used their Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to manage this important resource. In response to the recognition that climate change, water extraction and mining activities are significantly impacting the availability and quality of these resources, a partnership has been developed between the Ngurrara Rangers, Shell Australia and researchers from UoM and UWA. 
Stage one of the program developed the Ngurrara Seasonal Calendar Traditional Knowledge Management System. In stage 2 western science was incorporated into the knowledge management system with the establishment of climate and water monitoring stations at significant cultural sites. The 2 way learning structure has built the capacity, aspirations and scientific monitoring skills of Ngurrara Rangers while helping environmental scientists and resource geologists understand the value of TEK in environmental monitoring projects. The program has now been in operation for over five years, providing important baseline data that is allowing Ngurrara Rangers to evaluate both positive and negative feedbacks to design targeted management plans that respond to ecosystem needs for better cultural and environmental outcomes.