Article

Human Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 443-453

First online:

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

  • Kerstin K. ZanderAffiliated withThe Northern Institute, Charles Darwin UniversityResearch Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University Email author 
  • , Desleigh R. DunnettAffiliated withColmar Brunton
  • , Christine BrownAffiliated withTraditional owners from Maningrida & members of the Aboriginal Research Practitioner’s Network (ARPNet), Charles Darwin University
  • , Otto CampionAffiliated withTraditional owners from Maningrida & members of the Aboriginal Research Practitioner’s Network (ARPNet), Charles Darwin University
  • , Cherry DanielsAffiliated withTraditional owners from Ngukurr & Members of the Aboriginal Research Practitioner’s Network (ARPNet), Charles Darwin University
  • , Grace DanielsAffiliated withTraditional owners from Ngukurr & Members of the Aboriginal Research Practitioner’s Network (ARPNet), Charles Darwin University
  • , Edna NelsonAffiliated withTraditional owners from Ngukurr & Members of the Aboriginal Research Practitioner’s Network (ARPNet), Charles Darwin University
  • , Geraldine DanielsAffiliated withTraditional owners from Ngukurr & Members of the Aboriginal Research Practitioner’s Network (ARPNet), Charles Darwin University
  • , Godfrey BlitnerAffiliated withTraditional owners from Ngukurr & Members of the Aboriginal Research Practitioner’s Network (ARPNet), Charles Darwin University
    • , Dean CarsonAffiliated withThe Northern Institute, Charles Darwin UniversitySchool of Medicine, Flinders University
    • , Stephen T. GarnettAffiliated withResearch Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University

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Abstract

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.

Keywords

Cultural obligations Fire management Land and sea management Payments for Environmental Services (PES) Pest control Temporary movements Arnhem Land Northern Australia