Territory Stories

Sustainable desert livelihoods : a cross-cultural framework



Sustainable desert livelihoods : a cross-cultural framework


LaFlamme, Michael


E-Publications; PublicationNT; E-Books; Desert Knowledge CRC Working Paper 69




Alice Springs


Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


Includes bibliographical references. p.28-33.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements -- Executive summary -- Introduction: Sustaining biocultural diversity -- Sustaining biocultural diversity through livelihoods -- The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework -- A livelihood as a system -- Adapting the SLF to the desert -- Frameworks for sustaining desert diversity -- Desert factors -- System characteristics of desert livelihoods -- Characteristics of Aboriginal sustainability -- A Desert Livelihood Framework -- Desert assets/strategies/outcomes -- Desert rules and risk -- Rules -- Risks -- Interactions across levels and cultures -- Example: Biodiversity -- Desert influence -- Conclusion: A cross-cultural framework for desert sustainability -- References.




Sustainable development -- Alice Springs

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Desert Knowledge CRC

Place of publication

Alice Springs (N.T.)


Desert Knowledge CRC Working Paper 69


iv, 33 pages : colour illustrations ; 30 cm.

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Conclusion: A cross-cultural framework for desert sustainability Sparse desert populations require collaboration to address risks to biocultural diversity, whether those cultures are pastoral, Aboriginal, scientific or governmental. Working together requires links across levels, whether those levels are concepts, actions based on those concepts, or organisations that link those actions. This paper builds on international research to present a flexible framework for strongly autonomous and culturally diverse desert people to think, act and organise to sustain people and country together. Worldviews and their constituent conceptual frameworks are developed through group experiences within their environments. People use those frameworks to interpret their experiences and to solve problems in those environments. Aboriginal, pastoral, environmental, scientific and other worldviews that have been shaped by long experience in desert Australia share a similar set of characteristics that people use to solve problems. Australia has a national demand to solve the problem of cultural, social and ecological sustainability. In desert Australia, widely dispersed and culturally different desert groups must work equitably together if we are to sustain our threatened biological and cultural diversity. These groups include Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents of remote communities, pastoral and Aboriginal landholders, and multicultural residents of towns that provide services. The internationally proven Sustainable Livelihood Framework (SLF) helps people coherently analyse and discuss the important factors that affect livelihoods, and how those factors interact and feed back to create a sustainable system. It illustrates how assets (what a group has) that are valued by a social group can influence the design of rules (who can do what with assets) to improve strategies (what that group does with assets) and enable outcomes to emerge (what that group gets) that in turn strengthen those assets and reduce risks (threats to what that group has). The Desert Livelihood Framework (DLF) is a bioregional adaptation of the SLF and retains its general elements and structure. It is a planning tool for groups to identify the desert-specific elements that must be sustained to enable livelihoods to emerge. The DLF characterises assets, strategies and outcomes as six sets of practices that are central to sustainability in desert environments: Knowing your land: The responsibility for and knowledge of a place needed to effectively manage a diverse, patchy and unpredictable desert land. Living within limits: The willingness to live within the limits of desert material and energy flows and without excessively disturbing that system. Communicating meaning: The capability to gain, manage and share information about the important relationships among desert lands, climates, peoples, plants and animals. Practising holistically: The skills to creatively manage desert systems as wholes that link lands and cultures across scales, and to respond systemically to change. Relating equitably: Membership in an equitable and representative group that is able to influence political, economic and other decisions at higher levels Caring for biodiversity: The need to increase the resilience of native species and their habitats to pressures, to sustain the ecosystem functions we depend on. Each of these characteristics are socialecological systems that enable a wide variety of practices to emerge that can sustain desert lands and people together in a context of frequently changing occupations and desired outcomes. Desert Knowledge CRC Sustainable Desert Livelihoods: A cross-cultural framework 26

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