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Environmental Change & Management: Indigenous Land Management

Indigenous ranger at Gun-warddehwardde Lookout, Nourlangieā€¦ | Flickr

Source: Flickr

Indigenous peoples right across the world have been managing the land for generations. There is a lot to be learnt from Indigenous land management practices and how to manage land sustainably. Read through the resources below to learn more.

Indigenous peoples are crucial for conservation – a quarter of all land is in their hands (The Conversation, 2018, July 18)

Indigenous peoples have a deep and unique connection to the lands they inhabit. This connection has persisted throughout the world, despite centuries of colonisation, displacement and suppression of their cultural identities. What has never been appreciated is the contemporary spatial extent of Indigenous influence – just how much of Earth’s surface do Indigenous peoples still own or manage? Read through this article to find out.

5 big ideas: how Australia can tackle climate change while restoring nature, culture and communities (The Conversation, 2021, November 25)

This article discusses how Indigenous land management practices are crucial to combating climate change in Australia.

Indigenous lands have less deforestation than state-managed protected areas in most of tropics (The Conversation, 2021, December 9)

Areas managed by Indigenous peoples cover more than 25% of the world’s land and overlap with 40% of protected areas globally. Studies in Nicaragua and Brazil have found that Indigenous communities with ownership of their land have lower rates of deforestation than neighbouring areas. Often, deforestation in these places is even lower than in protected areas. Read through this article to learn more about Indigenous land management.

Land, culture, livelihood: what Indigenous people stand to lose from climate ‘solutions’ (The Conversation, 2021, November 4)

Indigenous people manage or have tenure rights over at least 38 million square kilometres in 87 countries on all inhabited continents. This represents over a quarter of the world’s land surface, intersecting about 40% of all land-based protected areas and ecologically intact landscapes. And yet, disadvantage is still widespread. International carbon policies such as nature-based climate schemes continue to contribute to a variety of poverties. Read through this article to learn more.

‘All things will outlast us’: how the Indigenous concept of deep time helps us understand environmental destruction (The Conversation, 2020, August 19)

Deep time asks us to rethink our narrow conceptions of time by looking back far into Earth’s history, and looking forward far into the future. The Indigenous Australian sense of history spans the 65,000 or more years they have lived on this continent. Read through this article to learn more about how deep time can impact environmental policy.

The world’s best fire management system is in northern Australia, and it’s led by Indigenous land managers (The Conversation, 2020, March 10)

The tropical savannas of northern Australia are among the most fire-prone regions in the world. On average, they account for 70% of the area affected by fire each year in Australia. But effective fire management over the past 20 years has reduced the annual average area burned – an area larger than Tasmania. The extent of this achievement is staggering, almost incomprehensible in a southern Australia context after the summer’s devastating bushfires. Read through this article to find out how Indigenous land managers use fire management to reduce the risk of bush fire destruction.

Traditional Aboriginal burning in modern day land management (Landcare, 2017, March)

For over 50,000 years, Australia’s Indigenous community cared for country by using land management that worked with the environment. Using traditional burning, fishing traps, and sowing and storing plants, they were able to create a system that was sustainable and supplied them with the food they needed. When Europeans arrived, they brought farming practices suited to an environment very different to Australia, that in the long-term caused erosion and salinity.

While many historical European accounts of Indigenous land management have faded, today there is a shift to recognise that Indigenous people had sophisticated sustainable agricultural systems. There is growing adoption of these practices to repair the damage done by European farming. One example gaining traction is the use of traditional Aboriginal fire management. Read through this article to learn more.

The importance of land (Australians Together, n.d.)

For many Indigenous people in Australia, land is much more than soil, rocks or minerals. It’s a living environment that sustains, and is sustained by, people and culture. Before colonisation, the reciprocal relationship between people and the land underpinned all other aspects of life for Indigenous people. Today, this relationship with the land remains fundamental to the identity and way of life of many Indigenous people. Read through this website to learn more.

Sustainable societies: the Australian Aboriginal example (University of Technology Sydney, 2014, February 11)

Aboriginal societies have been thriving in Australia despite climatic changes, which created an ice age and mega-droughts with the corresponding changes in habitable land and, most recently, despite the invasion of Europeans. Population densities no doubt increased during times of abundant food or restriction in habitat, which will have led to resource competition and warfare. Nevertheless Aboriginal societies have continuously survived for some five millennia, without destroying their resource base and while maintaining their cultural traditions. That Aboriginal culture has thrived for so long is surely a testament to its sustainability.

Rethinking Indigenous Australia's agricultural past (ABC, 2014, May 15)

This is a recording of an interview with Bill Gammage and Bruce Pascoe who contend that early explorers and diarists provide evidence of Aboriginal Peoples using widespread agriculture and aquaculture methods to manage the environment.

How we can learn from Indigenous land care (SBS, 2020, February 8)

Audio Recording broadcast on NITV radio. New research indicates a lot can be learned from utilizing Aboriginal land management practices.

Indigenous land management strategies (CSIRO, 2013)

This report details what Indigenous Land Management is and gives many examples of where and how it is practiced by Indigenous Peoples.

Our Knowledge, Our Way (CSIRO, n.d.)

Indigenous Australians rights of ownership and management have been recognised over nearly half of Australia and their knowledge systems connect them to their Country and cultures. As significant landowners, managers and custodians, Indigenous peoples are applying their knowledge s in caring for Country, generating many benefits. Read through this website to learn more.

Caring for Country: an urban application (Monash University, n.d.)

Explains the meaning and philosophy of Caring for Country, highlights the benefits of applying Caring for Country in the urban form, examines the application of Traditional Ecological Knowledge to urban sustainability at national and international scales, and provides some suggestions for how Caring for Country principles can be applied in Melbourne. The report was developed by Melbourne City Council and Monash University, Sustainability Institute.

Rivers: the veins of our Country (Australian River Restoration Centre, n.d.)

Case studies of First Nations involvement in managing water for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin, 2018-19.

Indigenous ranger programs (National Indigenous Australians Agency, n.d.)

Indigenous ranger projects support Indigenous people to combine traditional knowledge with conservation training to protect and manage their land, sea and culture. Read through this website to learn more about these projects.

Fighting ferals (Country Needs People, n.d.)

The Australian continent is host to a delicate ecological balance. Millions of years of geographic isolation saw the environment evolve with few native predators and no native hoofed animals. Human migration has upset that balance, in particular since European settlement. Feral animals impact on native species by predation, competition for food and shelter, destroying habitat and by spreading diseases. Watch through this video to learn more about Indigenous management of feral species.