Washington International Law Journal


Maureen Tehan


The Mabo decision represented a major doctrinal change in the relationship between Indigenous people and the settler legal system. However, significant legislative developments in land use and management recognizing some Indigenous interests in land had already laid the groundwork for joint land management schemes and concurrent land uses. These developments have formed the basis for ongoing expansion of coexistent land uses with the negotiation of formal and informal agreements for co-management of land. A range of factors influence these agreements, including the existence of enforceable property rights and non-property based heritage protection legislation. These regimes are currently in a state of flux. In an uncertain political environment there are possibilities for further recognition of Indigenous involvement in land management. There are also real possibilities for contraction of the limited rights of Indigenous people over land. Either development will impact the significant involvement of Indigenous people in resource and environmental management.

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