9It is uncontroversial that there is a wealth of valuable knowledge held by Indigenous people about natural resource management. As noted in the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future:

[Indigenous] communities are the repositories of vast accumulations of traditional knowledge and experience that links humanity with its ancient origins. Their disappearance is a loss for the larger society, which could learn a great deal from their traditional skills in sustainably managing very complex ecological systems. 1

More specific to water management, and in light of the case studies in this book, Australia’s National Water Commission acknowledged in 2012 that:

Indigenous Australians have managed their lands and waters sustainably for thousands of generations. Through their spiritual, cultural and customary connections to the landscape, they have acquired a deep knowledge and understanding of Australia’s water systems. 2

Despite the devastating effects of colonisation, many Indigenous Australians still hold valuable knowledge of ecosystem management, 3 as do Indigenous people in other colonised countries. It is therefore vitally important that Indigenous people are able to maintain and use their knowledge by participating in water management decision-making processes.