Researchers at the University of Sydney have produced hard data that demonstrates collaborating with Indigenous peoples changed the outcome of a scientific research project. It is the first empirical evidence that culturally diverse teams produce improved results in conservation research.
Dr Georgia Ward-Fear, a conservation biologist and herpetologist (amphibians and reptiles), said this was the first published study to measure the scientific contribution that Indigenous peoples bring to a research project, beyond the moral or ethical value.
“This is of major importance for Indigenous peoples around the world,” Dr Ward-Fear said. “Traditional owners often don’t have a voice in science. This is a case study for Indigenous groups globally to hold up and say ‘we deserve a voice’ and ‘we deserve input into research’.”
James ‘Birdy’ Birch, a leading ranger from the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation in the Kimberley said: “The university-educated scientists have research tools, data and methods that work for them. But we have every-day lived experience. We have knowledge of the land and the animals passed down over thousands of years. If we put these skills together, it paints a clearer picture.”