, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 443-453
Date: 26 Apr 2014

Indigenous Cultural and Natural Resources Management and Mobility in Arnhem Land, Northern Australia

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Many programmes formally engage Australian Indigenous people in land and sea management to provide environmental services. There are also many Indigenous people who ‘look after country’ without rewards or payment because of cultural obligations. We investigated how Indigenous peoples’ mobility in and around two communities (Maningrida and Ngukurr) is affected by their formal or informal engagement in cultural and natural resource management (CNRM). Understanding factors that influence peoples’ mobility is important if essential services are to be provided to communities efficiently. We found that those providing formal CNRM were significantly less likely to stay away from settlements than those ‘looking after their country’ without payment or reward. Paying Indigenous people to engage with markets for CNRM through carbon farming or payments for environmental services (PES) schemes may alter traditional activities and reduce mobility, particularly movements away from communities that extend the time spent overnight on country. This could have both environmental and social consequences that could be managed through greater opportunities for people to engage in formal CNRM while living away from communities and greater recognition of the centrality of culture to all Indigenous CNRM, formal or otherwise.