With her 11-month old baby in tow, Dr Jennifer Strickland-Munro spent five months camping along the 13,000km stretch that marks the Kimberley coastline to find out exactly how people value the area and what their hopes are for its future.
The 2013 trek with her son, Samson and husband, Beau, from Darwin to Eighty Mile Beach, has culminated in the first report from the “Values and aspirations for coastal waters of the Kimberley” research project funded by the Western Australian Government and administered by WAMSI.
In the first study of its kind to document the extent to which the region’s ~35,000 residents and many tourists value the Kimberley coast and marine environment, the results demonstrate that despite how hard it is to access some areas, there is nowhere that is considered without value.
|Jennifer interviewing a Kimberley resident|
“We interviewed 232 people in total that we met along the way, from a range of stakeholder groups,” Dr Strickland-Munro said. “This included Aboriginal Traditional Owners, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents, people from recreational and commercial fishing interests, aquaculture, tourists and tour operators, marine transport, Federal, State and local government, environmental non-government organisations and a range of community groups like sea rescue clubs who are clearly out and about on the coast.”
“Analysis of interview data revealed that social values for the Kimberley coastline and marine environment are largely non-consumptive, direct uses. Values relating to the physical landscape (e.g. aesthetics, coastal geology, unique nature experiences, and the Kimberley’s ‘pristine untouched environment’) were dominant.
“Biodiversity, an indirect use value relating to the presence of key flora and fauna including marine animals, reef biodiversity, migratory shorebirds and mangroves, was also widely and intensely valued,” Dr Strickland-Munro said.
A broad suite of Aboriginal values also emerged, with the clear need to include Aboriginal people in decision making rating highly.
|Jennifer and family camping in the Kimberley|
The project is now moving into its next phase as it looks to extend and validate what has already been found. An online survey will be launched in early April. The survey uses Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) techniques in which people place markers onto a Google map interface to indicate where and what they value about the Kimberley coast, as well as their management preferences for the future.
For more information about the survey contact Jennifer at email@example.com.
The results of the three year project will be available by the end of the year when the newly documented information will be able to be put into practice across planning for parks and wildlife, shires and industry to help better understand the suite of values and aspirations for the Kimberley coast.
[The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.]