Abstract: Environmental decision-making often occurs without transparent consideration of the broad cultural connection that exists between people and natural resources. Identity, pride, attachment to place, appreciation of aesthetics, spiritual connection, lifestyle, sense of community, heritage, and agency are often created around an environment and are risked nearly every time an environmental decision is made. Yet, incorporating these elements into decision-making is fraught with difficulty. Here, we examine the case of the Great Barrier Reef, a socio-ecological system currently undergoing significant environmental, social and economic change and provide empirical data to describe the culture that local coastal residents, Australians, international and domestic tourists, tourism operators and commercial fishers have with the Reef. Data from over 8,300 survey respondents highlight the diverse and strong cultural relationship that exists around this iconic and World Heritage Listed resource, suggesting that environmental change is likely to result in significant cultural change. Within this presentation we propose a simple approach to capture how cultural matters within a region might be represented and discuss how cultural matters might be more transparently considered for better decision-making.
Bio: Dr. Nadine Marshall is a senior social scientist with CSIRO, Land and Water, based in Townsville, Australia. Her research focuses on the relationship between people and natural resources for the purposes of better understanding how strategies can be developed that protect environmental goals whilst minimising any associated social impacts. She currently manages a portfolio of research projects across a range of primary industries including cattle, farming, tourism and commercial fishing as well as coastal communities along the Great Barrier Reef. Within this portfolio she manages the Social and Long Term Monitoring Program for the Great Barrier Reef. Key interests include social resilience, adaptive capacity, resource dependency, vulnerability and social and economic monitoring.