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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Central Kimberley water model crosses the cultural barrier

Date posted: 29 July 2013

An inter-disciplinary team has been developing a model to assess the likely ecological consequences of changing water-management practices in the central Kimberley. The model incorporates scientific hydrogeological knowledge and Indigenous ecological knowledge.

CSIRO ecological modelling specialist Dr Adam Liedloff says his colleague Dr Emma Woodward spent several years with Goonyandi Elders developing a seasonal calendar, based on traditional knowledge of the upper Fitzroy and Margaret River catchments.

'The seasonal calendar focuses on aquatic species (mainly fish), their ecological attributes and association with aquatic habitats across the annual seasonal cycle,' Dr Liedloff writes in a paper to be published shortly.

'Gooniyandi people know that when the river and creeks are running it is time to target catfish, long-necked turtle, barramundi and spangled perch.

'However, once the Moongoowarla wind starts blowing from the east, the weather cools and fish are reported to "shut their mouths", making fishing challenging.'

These changes are an example of the data that the researchers correlated with observations of the lower Fitzroy River water levels and flow provided by hydrologist Dr Glenn Harrington, to develop a Baysian predictive model.

'We put all (the data) together with the hope that the model might produce some insight into what the change in water management might mean to the Indigenous understanding, and bring those two together.'

Dr Liedloff says the next step involves taking the model out into the field and explaining the changes to the Elders from their perspective.

Source: ScienceNetwork Western Australia

For more information about water management and Indigenous communities, see the water supply and caring for country sections of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet web resource for Environmental Health Practitioners.


Last updated: 30 July 2013
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