It’s 2030, imagine if…

Wadjigan and Kiuk Biocultural Indicators (WKBI), 2026, was an innovative design that allowed First Nations peoples to demonstrate what healthy Country looks like, and how it should be valued. These indicators and the overarching evaluation system could be integrated into emerging opportunities and biodiversity business models. From this foundation the relationship between Country and wellbeing could be more widely communicated and highlighted the vital role of bio-cultural indicators in environmental management, which in turn led to increased support for First Nations peoples to easily access and live on their lands. The WKBI became a global example of the importance of empowering First Nations people to lead in environmental management, and is cited as a contributor to the 2040 Wellbeing Index that replaced GDP.

Summary of solution

When measuring biodiversity, the scientific framework doesn't always recognise traditional cultural values which foster well-being and ecosystem integrity. The establishment of a bio-cultural indicators framework to capture traditional values of “What makes Country Healthy”, sitting alongside western science will provide a solid bi-cultural foundation for future generations to care for country in the context of current extraction pressures. The recognition of these important bio-cultural indicators will be another step to balance to social and cultural inequity that exists in Australia. Building on Conservation Standards approach to a Wadjigan & Kiuk (W&K) Healthy Country Plan, this project helps prepare the community for other emerging ecosystem service payments. This project will be an important first step in identifying a more meaningful and holistic way of valuing the interconnectedness of people and their environment. It will increase the awareness and record important knowledge of the way that Wadjigan & Kiuk people value country as "Healthy", increase understanding between the Bulgul Rangers and W&K Traditional Owners regarding looking after country, create economic opportunities for W&K people on country and increase the wellbeing of people connected to making the country healthy.

Why is this solution innovative

The creation of biocultural indicators strengthens the foundation for future Ecosystem services opportunities, and will provide a better understanding of how to engage potential buyers and markets to increase fire management capacity of the community. It also allows Traditional Owners to engage in emerging biodiversity markets, which are attached to carbon credit producing projects and could make smaller fire management projects financially viable. Projects like this one are important for Indigenous landowners to articulate to non-indigenous people how they are tackling the increased fire risk and stress on biological and cultural values of this area from climate change.

Community benefits, engagement and "knowledge banking" for the future are the heart of this project and it s is being designed to ensure it delivers benefits from the start.