Territory Stories

Prepare for Impact! When People and Environment Collide in the Tropics



Prepare for Impact! When People and Environment Collide in the Tropics

Other title

When people and environment collide in the tropics


Abdurohman, Rahman; Arnstrong, Rachel; Boggs, Guy; Bowman, David; Brook Barry; Bunn, Stuart; Campbell, Bruce; Cunningham, Anthony; Davies, Diane; Garnett, Stephen; Gerritsen, Rolf; Griffiths, Tony; Morrison, Joe; Yu, Peter; Wright, S. Joseph; Williams, Meryl; Tay, Simon; Steffe, Will; Stacey, Natasha; Srivastava, Leena; Sodhi, Navjot S; Sanchez-Azofeifa, Arturo; Resosudarmo, Budy P; Portillo-Quintero, Carlos; Nurdianto, Ditya Agung; Muller-Landau, Helene C


Stacey, Natasha E; Boggs, Guy S; Campbell, Bruce M.; Steffen, Will


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




South East Asia and tropical Australia are undergoing major changes, which are likely to intensify in the next decade. Booming economies in China and India, and potentially other countries, are likely to drive exponential increases in demands for natural resources. Climate change is likely to have severe impacts, ranging from those associated with changes in severity of cyclones, to those associated with sea level rise in shallow oceans. Land cover transformations, already a common feature in many parts, could well decimate biodiversity. Human disease outbreaks, which have already caused alarm and economic disruption, could remain a feature of the region. The challenges are immense; it is timely to reflect on transforming forces and our responses. In May 2006, an international symposium was held in Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia, to discuss these very issues. This publication features papers by leading researchers and policy makers on the following themes:'Drivers of Change; 'Values & Livelihoods; 'What Are the Changes and Their Impacts? The editors of this book all have wide experience in this area. Dr Natasha Stacey is an anthropologist with expertise in natural resource management in the Asia-Pacific region. Dr Guy Boggs has focused his GIS and modelling research on the use of technologies for understanding changes in spatial patterns of vegetation distribution, erosion and runoff response. Prof Bruce Campbell works in the tropics on four continents from humid rainforests to dry woodlands and is focussed on achieving better outcomes for conservation and development and improving the well-being of people through natural resource management and use. Prof Will Steffen has research interests which span a broad range within the field of Earth System science.

Table of contents

Setting the scene -- Gerritsen : A resilient future for Northern Australia? People, economics and policy issues -- Resosudarmo : Setting the scene : driving forces of change in Southeast Asia -- Drivers of change -- Steffen : Climate change in the tropics -- Srivastava : Securing India's energy future : what does the world have to worry about? -- Tay : Trade and environment in Southeast Asia -- Williams : Food production systems and policy development in Southeast Asia -- Values and livelihoods -- Armstong et al : Indigenous land and sea management and sustainable business development in Northern Australia -- Garnett : Enterprise development by indigenous communities using natural resources : where do the benefits go? -- Campbell et al : Do local people and the environment collide? Who drives environmental change? -- What are the changes and their impacts? -- Cunningham : Culture, livelihoods and conservatism -- Sodhi and Brook : Biodiversity crisis in Southeast Asia -- Wright et al : The future of Southeast Asian forests and their species -- Bunn : Northern Australia -- all that water ... going to waste? -- Bowman : Time's up for Australia's last frontier.




0502 - Environmental Science and Management; Southeast Asia; Northern Australia; Natural Resource Management; Politics & Society

Publisher name

Charles Darwin University Press (CDU Press)

Place of publication



vi, 119 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.

File type



9780980665017; 980665019



Copyright owner

Charles Darwin University Press (CDU Press)



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The four main features of north Australian economic marginalisation are: 1. Industry sector stasis The industrial sector structure of northern Australia was the same in 2001 as it was in 1981. In other words, there has been economic growth but not economic development. That will continue. Unless there are radical policy changes, we cannot expect a silicon valley or even the expansion of knowledge-based businesses relative to the total number of businesses. The public sector, which has a disproportionate share of the brain workers, will not expand its contribution to economic development. 2. An encapsulated export sector The current export sector of northern Australia is principally fish and agricultural produce, live cattle, mineral and petroleum products and (by some economic definitions) tourism. This is the efficient (in the terms of orthodox microeconomics) sector of the northern economy. This sector (fisheries, some tourism and agriculture aside) has relatively poor multipliers into the northern economy. So the export sector, which drives economic upswings and defines economic downswings, makes insufficient contribution to the savannas economy to alter its basic dependent, peripheral industrial structure. 3. Public sector inefficiency This has two aspects. Ineffective and inefficient service delivery and in the case of the NT public sector indebtedness (in part because of the post-self government history of inefficient subsidisation of major projects, the Darwin Convention Centre being the latest in this tradition) which gradually closes off options for governments to stimulate sustainable and endogenous economic growth. The inefficiency of service delivery flows from the overlap and confusion between the funding levels of government. The ineffectiveness of government service delivery derives from the geographic centralisation of the bureaucracy and program management within the public sector over the past 15-20 years (Gerritsen 2000), as well as the poor design of services with regard to social, environmental and economic need in the savannas. With regard to the latter point, most service delivery is bedevilled by an assumption that the major Aboriginal settlements of the north are communities when that is not the case (Gerritsen and Straton 2006). Basing a service delivery system on an incorrect paradigm almost guarantees that services will not produce efficient or effective outcomes. 4. Impoverishment and social problems on Aboriginal settlements This hardly needs spelling out. But it will become more serious unless radically new perspectives on the potentials of Aboriginal development are adopted. There are other more strictly economic factors that in a globalised economy portend economic marginalisation. 1. An inefficient labour market The north Australian labour market is much less efficient than the national labour market. That means that skill shortages take longer to clear and the region has not grown its own skilled/qualified workforce but depends upon immigration. That is one reason any new large mining project will largely use fly-in/fly-out labour. The structure of the northern labour market also is different in ways that both reflect the suite of regional industries (e.g. there are proportionately more labourers in the workforce because of the dominance of the mining and construction industries and poor educational outcomes) and inhibits flexible adjustment to changing economic circumstances. For instance, to continue the example, labourers are not much use if you want to participate in a dot com-led services enterprise boom. Prepare for Impact!Setting the Scene 6

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