Learning Together for with the Martuwarra Fitzroy River

Rosemary Hill, Pia Harkness, Nat Raisbeck-Brown, Ilisapeci Lyons, Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero, Milena Kiatkoski Kim, Dennis Chungalla, Heather Wungundin, Mary Aiken, Jean Malay, Bernadette Williams, Rachel Buissereth, Tim Cranbell, Josephine Forrest, Marmingee Hand, Ross James, Elizabeth Jingle, Olive Knight, Nathan Lennard, Valerie LennardIleen Malay, Lindsay Malay, Wallace Midmee, Stuart Morton, Chloe Nulgit, Patricia Riley, Ina Shadforth, Jane Bieundurry, George Brooking, Sherika Brooking, Willy Brumby, Victor Bulmer, Virgil Cherel, Ashley Clifton, Sam Cox, Matt Dawson, Cissy Gore-Birch, John Hill, Alistair Hobbs, Duran Hobbs, Camelia Juboy, Patricia Juboy, Annette Kogolo, Sarah Laborde, Barry Lennard, Con Lennard, Deon Lennard, Nelita Malay, Zenneth Malay, David Marshall, Herbert Marshall, Lezeka Millindee, Diane Mowaljarlai, Andrea Myers, Thomas Nnarda, Joy Nuggett, Lloyd Nulgit, Pansy Nulgit, Anne Poelina, Daniel Poudrill, Joe Ross, Jimmy Shandley, Roly Skander, Sandy Skeen, Gordon Smith, Mervyn Street, Pauline Thomas, Bronson Wongawol, Harry Yungabun, Arosha Sunfly, Cyntala Cook, Kaunell Shaw, Taliesha Collard, Yvonne Collard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Co-production across scientific and Indigenous knowledge systems has become a cornerstone of research to enhance knowledge, practice, ethics, and foster sustainability transformations. However, the profound differences in world views and the complex and contested histories of nation-state colonisation on Indigenous territories, highlight both opportunities and risks for Indigenous people when engaging with knowledge co-production. This paper investigates the conditions under which knowledge co-production can lead to improved Indigenous adaptive environmental planning and management among remote land-attached Indigenous peoples through a case study with ten Traditional Owner groups in the Martuwarra (Fitzroy River) Catchment in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. The research team built a 3D map of the river and used it, together with an interactive table-top projector, to bring together both scientific and Indigenous spatial knowledge. Participatory influence mapping, aligned with Traditional Owner priorities to achieve cultural governance and management planning goals set out in the Fitzroy River Declaration, investigated power relations. An analytical framework, examining underlying mechanisms of social learning, knowledge promotion and enhancing influence, based on different theories of change, was applied to unpack the immediate outcomes from these activities. The analysis identified that knowledge co-production activities improved the accessibility of the knowledge, the experiences of the knowledge users, strengthened collective identity and partnerships, and strengthened Indigenous-led institutions. The focus on cultural governance and management planning goals in the Fitzroy River Declaration enabled the activities to directly affect key drivers of Indigenous adaptive environmental planning and management—the Indigenous-led institutions. The nation-state arrangements also gave some support to local learning and decision-making through a key Indigenous institution, Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council. Knowledge co-production with remote land-attached Indigenous peoples can improve adaptive environmental planning and management where it fosters learning together, is grounded in the Indigenous-led institutions and addresses their priorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-375
Number of pages25
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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