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Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 32(5)

Sustainable development in the indigenous-owned savanna: innovative institutional design for cooperative wildlife management

Jon Altman A C, Michelle Cochrane B

A Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
B Aboriginal Rainforest Council Inc., 277 Hartley Street, Portsmith, Qld 4870, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: Jon.Altman@anu.edu.au
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This study examines a particular form of cooperative wildlife management on Aboriginal land in the tropical savanna of the Northern Territory of Australia, in the context of broader questions about governance. It asks how governance at the local or community level can be designed to ensure sustainable development and real economic benefit for the region’s long-term indigenous residents. It is argued here that sustainable development will require hybrid institutions that accommodate and value the principles and practices of indigenous resource management, while also recognising the benefits of broader regional resource governance. Emerging best practice in wildlife harvesting that is founded on careful scientific assessments of sustainability is identified, and an approach to northern development based on sustainability and locally controlled commercialisation is canvassed. Future challenges to the proposed approach include convincing governments and state agencies of its national as well as regional benefits. Reform of governance to facilitate its rapid implementation is desirable, in the context of the relative poverty currently experienced by many indigenous people in tropical north Australia.

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