TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Research Themes

River assets & values

People in this Theme

Sue Jackson
Project Leader, Theme Leader
Anna Straton
Project Leader

River assets & values

Valuation of freshwater aquatic and coastal resources is essential for decision making about the allocation of these resources to different and sometimes competing uses. Value, however, is contingent on cultural, economic and geographical perspective.

In the first phase of work, researchers in this theme worked closely with landowners, land managers, industry and community groups, examining the full range of values associated with tropical rivers and coasts. They assessed the effects of water-use decisions on social, cultural, economic and ecological values and explored ways to better incorporate these values in decision making.

A key focus of this work aimed to address the fact that Indigenous values associated with rivers tend to be poorly understood by decision makers and that Indigenous people had rarely been effectively engaged in research on water resource management on their country.

The Indigenous Socio-economic Values and River Flows project addressed these issues in the Fitzroy Catchment in Western Australia and the Daly Catchment in the Northern Territory over three years. The summary report from this project provides an overview of:

  • the types of aquatic resources harvested by Indigenous people;
  • when and where they go to harvest them; and
  • the direct economic value gained from not having to buy these resources in the shop.

During the synthesis and adoption year, researchers sought to provide opportunities to further involve Indigenous people in research, through an evaluation of its indigenous engagement, co-authored scientific publications and seasonal calendars.

Click on the links below to find more information about the earlier projects undertaken in this theme.


2013 Walmajarri Seasonal Calendar
2013 Gulumoerrgin Seasonal Calendar
2013 Gooniyandi Seasonal Calendar
2010 MalakMalak and Matngala plant knowledge - Seasonal Calendar
2009 Merrepen 2009 Poster- Aboriginal People and River Flows
2009 Ngan'gi Seasons Calendar, Nauiyu - Daly River
Conference Paper
2012 Indigenous seasonal understanding in monsoon Australia: examples from the Northern Territory and Western Australia
Conference Participation
2010 Tropical Rivers in Australia and Customary Resource Use: Putting People into Flow-ecology Relationships
2009 Indigenous aquatic resource use in the Daly River catchment, Northern Territory
2009 Creating the Ngan'gi Seasons Calendar: Reflections on Engaging Indigenous Knowledge Authorities in Research
Corporate Publication
2011 Indigenous socio-economic values and river flows - A Summary of Research Results: 2008-2010
Fact Sheet
2009 The value of Australia's tropical ecosystem services
2008 The Economic Value of Rivers
2008 Indigenous Values and River Flows
Journal Article
2014 The use of replacement cost method to assess and manage the impacts of water resource development on Australian indigenous customary economies
2013 Recognition of indigenous water values in Australia's Northern Territory: current progress and ongoing challenges for social justice in water planning
2013 Integrating indigenous ecological and scientific hydro-geological knowledge using a Bayesian Network in the context of water resource development
2012 Aquatic Resource Use by Indigenous Australians in Two Tropical River Catchments: the Fitzroy River and Daly River
2012 Utilising Indigenous seasonal knowledge to understand aquatic resource use and inform water resource management in northern Australia
2011 Protecting Indigenous Values in Water Management: A Challenge to Conventional Environmental Flow Assessments
2011 Exploring and Evaluating Scenarios for a River Catchment in Northern Australia Using Scenario Development, Multi-criteria Analysis and a Deliberative Process as a Tool for Water Planning
2010 An economic assessment of the value of tropical river ecosystem services: Heterogeneous preferences among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians
2010 Trade-offs between development, culture and conservation – Willingness to pay for tropical river management among urban Australians
2008 Recognition of Indigenous interests in Australian water resource management, with particular reference to environmental flow assessment
Magazine Article
2009 Seeing northern rivers through Indigenous eyes
2008 Valuing tropical rivers and their ecosystem services through responsive research.
2010 Indigenous Socio-economic values and river flows - Newsletter 2, October 2010
2009 Indigenous Socio-economic values and river flows - Newsletter 1, August 2009
2010 Estimation of economic values for ecosystem services of Australia's tropical rivers, Riversymposium Conference, Perth 2010
2009 Indigenous values and water allocation research in the Daly River region of Northern Australia, Riversymposium Conference, Brisbane 2009
2008 Indigenous people, rivers and water in north Australia: perspectives on an emerging research agenda, Coast 2 Coast Conference, Darwin 2008
2013 Indigenous engagement in the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge program: A review of policies, strategies and research activities
2011 Malak Malak River Monitoring Report: 2009-2010
2011 Gooniyandi River Monitoring Report: 2009-2010
2011 Indigenous socio-economic values and river flows
2011 Indigenous socio-economic values and river flows - A Summary of Research Results: 2008-2010
2009 The value of Australia’s tropical river ecosystem services
2008 Water resources of the Howard River region, Northern Territory: A report on the social and cultural values and a stakeholder assessment of water use scenarios
2010 Checking out Indigenous river harvest in the Kimberley