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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.

The health of Country, including that of rivers and wetlands, is an integral part of First Nations peoples’ identity and underpins cultural obligations to neighbouring Nations. 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. Achieving First Nations environmental watering outcomes ensures First Nations peoples' health, wellbeing and cultural resilience.

In recognition of these benefits and traditional ecological knowledge, the Murray−Darling Basin Authority and Commonwealth Environmental Water Office partnered with Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) and the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN) to 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 work with First Nations to collect environmental watering objectives that describe tangible benefits experienced by First Nations people from the delivery of environmental water on Country This project supports existing opportunities available to First Nations people at the state level to participate in decisions on water for the environment in their regions.

The traditional ecological knowledge collected through the FNEWG project has been used in developing the latest Basin-wide annual environmental watering priorities.

Updated: 15 Sep 2020