Mal Ridges gained his doctorate at the University of New England, Armidale in 2003 with a study that examined the implications of scales of analysis on the archaeological interpretation of regional Aboriginal behaviour. Since 2001, he has worked for the Dept. Environment, Climate Change & Water, where he has moved from an early focus on systematic conservation planning research (under Bob Pressey) to his current role in researching the application of spatial information in regional planning for Aboriginal heritage. His research interests lie in the application of systematic conservation planning principles in cultural heritage management, and the use of spatial information by Aboriginal communities to progress their aspirations to look after their heritage in their own way.
The need to address Indigenous cultural heritage in conservation planning is well recognised judging by the ample reference to it in national & international policy and legislation. The will is certainly there, but there is some catching up to do on the how. The principles of systematic conservation planning potentially have an important part to play in this, but doing so involves recognising the differences with working within the natural and cultural domains. Fundamental to this is examining the objectives of planning for Indigenous heritage and the appropriate use of information. This seminar will describe the application of the Aboriginal Sites Decision Support Tool (ASDST) and the VIP methodology in a conservation planning framework, leading to the development of information products that assist with cultural heritage planning. It will be argued that addressing cultural heritage effectively in conservation strategies requires more than a representative sample of objects or identifying overlaps between scientific and Aboriginal interests in natural values, but requires Aboriginal communities to progress towards developing their own conservation strategies so that they can get the most out of their involvement in NRM.