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First Nations environmental water guidance

First Nations people have a deep understanding of, and connection to, the land and waterways of the Murray−Darling Basin cultivated over the 65,000 years that they have been caring for Country.

They have an interest in the environment of the Basin including the health of our rivers. This means that water for the environment, aimed at improving river health, can also provide tangible benefits for First Nations people.

Healthy rivers and wetlands have thriving animals and plants that are important ecologically but can also be culturally significant to First Nations. Water for the environment can also improve the condition of places that are culturally important. This investment in cultural outcomes can boost the health and wellbeing of First Nations people and keep their culture strong.

In recognition of these benefits and traditional ecological knowledge, the Murray−Darling Basin Authority and Commonwealth Environmental Water Office partnered with the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) and the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN) to share information, collaborate and integrate First Nations outcomes directly into current water management practices. This commenced in 2019−20 and is called the First Nations Environmental Water Guidance Project.

Through this project NBAN and MLDRIN worked with First Nations to develop environmental watering objectives that describe tangible benefits experienced by First Nations people from the delivery of environmental water on Country. This project built on the existing opportunities available to First Nations at the state level to participate in decisions on water for the environment in their regions.

This traditional ecological knowledge was used to develop the Basin-wide annual environmental watering priorities.

Updated: 14 Nov 2022