Project to map sustainable development on Country

Unique maps developed with Traditional Owners could help drive support for new Aboriginal-led developments across the Northern Territory.

The two-way maps are at the centre of a new Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) collaboration between Centrefarm Aboriginal Horticulture Ltd, the Northern Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA), the Northern Land Council and Charles Darwin University.

The 15-month Co-mapping on Country project will work with communities where future Aboriginal Land Economic Development Agency (ALEDA) projects are being planned. The mapping aims to develop a series of physical and digitised maps and training manuals in local Languages and English. Additionally, digital maps will have the ability to include Western scientific data to support and complement the local knowledge gained on the ground.

Centrefarm’s Vincent Lange said: “Maps have proven to be an effective engagement tool for Aboriginal people as they help community decisions-makers visualise and contextualise what opportunities exist and how and where the best places for economic development are.”

“Co-mapping captures the interaction between the physical and cultural aspects of the land as well as the interaction between Traditional Owners and future partners in land development. The maps are essential under ALEDA’s first guiding principle, Authority comes from Country, and will be integral to populating the Land and Opportunities Portfolio with shovel ready projects.

“Our project will deliver tailored maps for people to discuss what sort of development they want to see and how that development fits in with their land and cultural practices,” he said.

Mr Lange said in addition to recording topography, flora and fauna, infrastructure, and water sources, cultural sites where appropriate will be important.

“Often in the development process we find Indigenous knowledge and connections are overlooked or not detailed in any way which speaks to their significance within a community and therefore they are not considered during development processes.”

CRCNA CEO Jed Matz said the project’s train the trainer focus would develop a pool of skilled people with the expertise to help ALEDA meet its goals for economic development.

“The co-mapping approach means community Elders have a greater stake in the planning, approval and development process while ensuring critical cultural and ecological assets are retained.

“These maps will be used throughout the Aboriginal estate for Traditional Owners to lead commercial economic development discussion and activities,” he said.

The project team have started work developing a training manual for facilitators who will run the co-mapping workshops in 2021.

More information

Brody Smith - Centrefarm Aboriginal Horticulture Ltd

08 8953 7070