Valuing the Wild, Remote and Beautiful: Using Public Participation GIS to Inform Tourism Planning in the Kimberley, Western Australia

Valuing the Wild, Remote and Beautiful: Using Public Participation GIS to Inform Tourism Planning in the Kimberley, Western Australia

J. Strickland-Munro H. Kobryn  S.A. Moore  G. Brown 

Murdoch University, Australia

University of Queensland, Australia

| |
| | Citation



The remote Kimberley region in Western Australia presents a unique nature-based tourism destination. One of the world’s last wildernesses, the Kimberley is one of the least-impacted marine environments in the world. Tourism in the region is growing rapidly, driven by stunning natural landscapes, unparalleled nature-based experiences and a vibrant indigenous culture. Despite this, there has been virtually no research into how stakeholders value the Kimberley and spatially explicit investigations are lacking. State marine protected area planning, currently in a formative stage in the region, requires such spatially explicit social data to complement existing biophysical information. This paper reports on findings from a Public Participation GIS survey with 206 stakeholders undertaken in 2015 as part of a broader research project into socio-cultural values and management preferences for the Kimberley coast. Stakeholders’ spatially linked values were collected via an internet-based mapping survey for the purpose of supporting future planning and management in the region. Stakeholders mapped over 4,100 value locations, with values relating to scenery/aesthetics, recreational fishing, Aboriginal culture and nature-based tourism being most prominent. Analysis identified a clear spatial clustering of values across the region with a number of value ‘hotspots’ evident. Tourism planners and managers can analyse these hotspots to identify areas of potential congruence and conflict, thus assisting in retaining the qualities of the region that support ongoing tourism. By generating spatially explicit information on stakeholder values and areas of importance, this research makes an important contribution to tourism planning and management in the Kimberley.


Kimberley, marine spatial planning, PPGIS social values


[1] Halpern, B.S., Walbridge, S., Selkoe, K.A., Kappel, C.V., Micheli, F., D’Agrosa, C., Bruno, J.F., Casey, K.S., Ebert C., Fox, H.E., Fujita, R., Heinemann, D., Lenihan, H.S., Madin, E.M.P., Perry, M.T., Selig, E.R., Spalding, M., Steneck, R. & Watson, R., A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems. Science, 319(5865), pp. 948–952, 2008.

[2] Tourism Western Australia, Kimberley Development Commission Area: Overnight Visitor Fact Sheet. Year Ending December 2014, Government of Western Australia: Perth, 2015.

[3] Government of Western Australia, Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, Government of Western Australia: Perth, 2011.

[4] Geoscience Australia, Applying geoscience to Australia’s most important challenges. Retrieved 23 September, 2015, available at

[5] Green, D.R., The role of Public Participatory Geographical Information Systems (PPGIS) in coastal decision-making processes: an example from Scotland, UK. Ocean & Coastal Management, 53(12), pp. 816–821, 2010.

[6] van Riper, C.J., Kyle, G.T., Sutton, S.G., Barnes, M. & Sherrouse, B.C., Mapping outdoor recreationists’ perceived social values for ecosystem services at Hinchinbrook Island National Park, Australia. Applied Geography, 35(1–2), pp. 164–173, 2012.

[7] Plieninger, T., Dijks, S., Oteros-Rozas, E. & Bieling, C., Assessing, mapping, and quantifying cultural ecosystem services at community level. Land Use Policy, 33, pp. 118–129, 2013.

[8] Brown, G. & Weber, D., Measuring change in place values using public participation GIS (PPGIS). Applied Geography, 34, pp. 316–324, 2012.

[9] Brown, G., Weber, D. & de Bie, K., Assessing the value of public lands using public participation GIS (PPGIS) and social landscape metrics. Applied Geography, 53, pp. 77–89, 2014.

[10] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011). 2011 Census Data. Retrieved 27 August, 2015, availabel at

[11] Strickland-Munro, J., Moore, S., Kobryn, H. & Palmer, D., Values and aspirations for coastal waters of the Kimberley: Social values and participatory mapping using interviews. Technical Report. Kimberley Marine Research Program Node of the Western Australian Marine Science Institution. Perth, Western Australia, Western Australian Marine Science Institution, 2015.

[12] Brown, G. & Reed, P., Validation of a forest values typology for use in national forest planning. Forest Science, 46(2), pp. 240–247, 2000.