Dave Whitelaw

Dave Whitelaw


People, Policy Reform and Greater Indigenous Involvement - Path to a healthier outback

The Outback represents one of Australia’s best conservation opportunities, as stated in the recently released Outback Paper Series, 'My Country, Our Outback'. The report was produced by Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit organization that aims to conserve Australia’s critical natural landscapes. The Paper contributes to the discussion on connecting, supporting and resourcing land managers to create a ‘modern outback.’

The Pew Report highlights the global significance of Australia’s outback in terms of biodiversity, as well as being the ‘living heart’ of Australia. The Outback is one of the few remaining great regions of nature, and covers 70% of the Australian continent.

Pew’s 3 Point planning process aims to create a healthy, stronger outback that sustains both people and nature.

1. Attract more people to manage the land - there are less people living and managing the outback now than there has been in the last 50000 years. With the increase of weeds, feral animals and fire threats, the country needs people to care for it now more than ever.

2. Reform outdated laws that stifle innovation - Sustainable development is needed to strengthen local communities and broader land management, providing longer term security. Policy changes are required in some areas to allow diversification of land use including carbon farming and ecotourism, in order to develop jobs, local communities and conservation benefits.

3. Support success and boost Indigenous-led conservation – As Pew states, programs such as the ranger programs have ‘nurtured land, communities and culture, and contributed to far better management across large areas. The combination of ancient and modern knowledge ensures the best possible future for people and nature in the outback.’

The report demonstrates pragmatic approaches to land management, giving examples of approaches to conservation that are already working, and that can be increased.

Pew Charitable Trusts 3 point plan resonates with Conservation Management and the Healthy Country planning process, particularly with its themes of valuing nature and sustaining people.  As the report states, ‘the fate and condition of this large, natural ecosystem lies with the people who live on, know, respect and manage that land.’

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