Aboriginal values and management

To what extent are Aboriginal values, knowledge and people involved in forest management and decision-making, and how can this be strengthened in the future?


NSW forests provide significant and diverse connections to country for Aboriginal peoples, for example providing ownership and access to use, care for and manage land, as well as opportunities for employment, education and economic development.

The program has established an Aboriginal values working group and framework to guide this work and identify focus areas for Aboriginal-led, country-based assessments, monitoring, and research.

Project AV1: Aboriginal values and renewal post-fire - Coordinator


Firesticks will coordinate a process to assess Aboriginal cultural values and renewal in post-fire forests. This role will help guide and support assessment case studies in different forests and fire-impacted areas of the state. This will deliver on-ground cultural and economic support for local Aboriginal communities.

Project AV2: Aboriginal values and renewal post-fire - Case studies

The Coffs Harbour, Tamworth and Brungle-Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Councils will lead on-ground values and renewal assessment in their respective regions. The case studies will be guided by local steering groups and undertake assessments of diverse Aboriginal values before and after the 2019-20 wildfires. Actions will be identified to support cultural restoration and renewal in the forests. These case studies are part of a broader approach to develop a model to assess Aboriginal values across forest tenures, through Aboriginal-led, country-based assessments, monitoring, and research.

As an approach, each case study will investigate the following questions:

  • What was the condition of Aboriginal values (tangible and intangible) prior to the fire where known?
  • What data and monitoring of values exists currently, are there any gaps, and how can this be improved?
  • How has the fire impacted each of those values and how does this vary across forest areas?
  • What risks to the values have changed because of the fires and are there any emerging risks?
  • What tools, actions and processes can be developed to address these risks in the future and better support cultural restoration and renewal?

Progress to date:

  • Working group and framework design – ongoing from February 2020
  • Co-design of project with Aboriginal stakeholders – ongoing from March 2020
  • Commissioning facilitator and case studies– October-December 2020
  • Set-up of local steering groups and field assessments – February-October 2021
  • Delivery of project updates and outputs – October-November 2021

Next steps and timing:

  • Case study reports – December 2021
  • Final synthesis report – March 2022

Case study: An overview of Aboriginal-led forest values and fire assessments in northern NSW

The Banbai Rangers are leading Aboriginal values assessments on the Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area and other tenures in northern NSW after the 2019/20 wildfires. Learn about key forest values on their lands and how to better protect these as part of forest and fire management practices by watching their story on video here.

Banbai Rangers monitor fauna

The Banbai Rangers have commenced fauna monitoring on the Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area. This will be part of a broader cross-tenure NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program.

Ecologists trained the Banbai Rangers to deploy remote sensor cameras and two different acoustic monitoring devices to monitor wildlife at selected sites over two-weeks. Specialised computer-based fauna recognisers will analyse audio data in collaboration with the Rangers. Camera images will be uploaded to the Australian Museum’s DigiVol, for Rangers to access and identity fauna, along with other citizen scientists.

This data will be used to ensure a statistically valid and robust design to expand the monitoring program as well as provide important insights into data collection, analysis, and biodiversity monitoring in the IPAs and NSW forests more broadly.

Watch the video here

Reports and outputs

  • Baselines - Aboriginal values - Banbai case study video – fauna monitoring (April 2022)
  • Baselines - Aboriginal values - Banbai case study video – an overview of Aboriginal-led forest values and fire assessments in northern NSW (October 2020)
  • Insight and oversight - Program update (December 2020)