ReConnecting with GBR communities to achieve socially and culturally responsible Reef Restoration

    Recently, a post-doctoral fellow from The Cairns Institute, Dr Gillian Paxton, travelled to Cooktown to join the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program’s Indigenous Partnerships team at the Cape York & Cooktown Expo. This dynamic cultural event drew communities from across the Cape York region, offering a valuable opportunity to talk to the community about RRAP science and research.

    As well as being the world’s largest living structure and one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef has profound cultural significance to Traditional Owners who hold rights over and manage sea country, and immeasurable social, cultural and economic value to the broader Reef community. The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) is funded by the Reef Trust Partnership and is a multi-institutional research and development program that is working to create an innovative suite of interventions to help the Great Barrier Reef resist, adapt to, and recover from the impacts of climate change. An underlying principle of RRAP is that interventions or technologies need to be developed in close collaboration with Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owners and other stakeholders and community groups so that they enhance community values values and are socially and culturally responsible.

    The Cairns Institute is playing a critical role in the RRAP Stakeholder and Traditional Engagement sub-program which will implement multiple research methods to ensure that interventions are developed in a way that is socially responsible and legitimate to stakeholders, Traditional Owners, and the public. As well as helping manage the RRAP market stall at the Cape York and Cooktown Expo, Gillian is an environmental anthropologist who specializes in understanding communities’ deep and complex connections with their natural environment. 

    Under RRAP, she is conducting “Regional Deep Dive” social research, conducting the first of over a hundred interviews with stakeholders, Traditional Owners and community groups across the Great Barrier Reef catchments. These interviews will draw together valuable insights on community members’ experiences of environmental change in the Great Barrier Reef, how they imagine the future for the Reef and their views on pathways toward socially responsible reef restoration.

    If you would like more information on Gillian’s work or if you have suggestions for who should be interviewed as part of her work, she would love to hear from you:
    Contact Gillian.Paxton@JCU.edu.au | Ph: 07 42321340 or 0422637000

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