Dr Natasha Stacey
Dr Arturo Izurieta
Considerable attention has been given to the role of local and traditional knowledge in conservation (Berkes and Turner 2005) and yet Indigenous people are still struggling to find a role in Protected Area (PA) decision-making processes and management actions (Jaireth and Smyth 2003) and in effectively managing their country together with the PA management agencies. For Aboriginal owners, Joint management (JM) is a process associated with community development where the aim of control over their lands is mainly driven by the need for a stronger cultural identify and self determination; whilst from the Government perspective, JM is primarily a means to achieve conservation goals (Lawrence 2000). Rarely however have the shared objectives within these different perspectives been identified and agreed by the partners or been followed by an assessment of their achievement.
Over the last two decades, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of management effectiveness of protected areas has been increasingly applied at sites around the world. However, to date, research on and application of protected area management evaluation has not been considered for those with joint management arrangements. This is particularly the case in Australia where JM ventures have been in place for around 30 years (Bauman & Smyth 2007). In addition M&E of parks have tended to focus on what the management wants to achieve (outcomes) rather than how the management arrangements work (Bellamy et al 2001) and whether the institutional arrangements themselves are functioning effectively (processes) (Ross et al 2004).
In the Northern Territory (NT), JM arrangements exist as a legal instrument under the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2005, where roles and responsibilities for JM of the NT government Parks Service, Traditional Owners and Land Councils are clearly set out. The Act provides a framework for joint actions towards conservation of biodiversity and recognition of cultural practices on Aboriginal land in 27 parks and reserves.