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)



Parent handle


Citation address


Related items


Page content

For Bajo fishers, decades of unsympathetic policy which has a) not recognized their traditional fishing grounds and afforded specific rights of access; and b) continued apprehensions, confiscations, and jailing of crew and burning boats; has until very recently not offered a significant level of deterrent. Fishermen continue seeking a livelihood from the sea the only thing they know for highly sought-after marine commodities destined for global markets. Fishermen also are clever at adapting to Australian policy responses. For example, in the early 1990s, Bajo changed their fishing technology to be able to access deeper waters once their traditional fishing grounds largely covering shallower waters and shoals were closed to them after expansion of the AFZ from 12 to 200 nm. Again in the early 2000s, Bajo changed the type of boat they used to conduct shark fishing voyages from sail powered vessels to small motorized bodis (Fox et al. forthcoming) to support a get in and get out quick approach (Widdall 2006). This was in response to heightened levels of surveillance in the Timor and Arafura Seas by Australian authorities. How do Aboriginal communities deal with a situation like this? The simplest approach is to not engage in the market economy, instead dealing in the informal or subsistence economy. In many ways this is a continuation of the current system of welfare dependence and living day by day. A second approach is to ignore the formal regulations and engage with the private market. This sounds controversial but in reality it is occurring on a regular basis in the Aboriginal art industry throughout northern Australia, with no detrimental effects to the harvested populations. Disenabling policies While the popular discourse of the central and regional state authorities may reflect ideas of decentralization, self determination and local capacity development, in many cases the policy and legal framework may not be enabling to local people. In the Indonesian rainforest case, decentralization brought many changes at the turn of the century (Barr et al. 2001), and while a few benefits did trickle down, in general this policy change was insufficient to ensure significant local benefits. The benefits of the decentralization policy were largely captured at the district level where there were huge injections of cash from logging concessions through both formal and informal payments. At the lower level, there was no clarity in how local communities could benefit from logging concessions in the forests near their village. This resulted in a range of arrangements that were relatively unsatisfactory to local people. While Australian development aid espouses poverty reduction and participatory processes, the policy of the MOU Box area is disenabling and only affords specific rights of access based on an outdated notion of traditional. It has been in existence for more than 30 years now and while most actors criticize the policy, government has done nothing to improve it. In Indonesia there is a lack of policies and legislation giving local tenure and access rights and nothing to limit the entry of large scale foreign fleets from coastal and ocean areas which are the traditional fishing grounds of many. There are a range of policies limiting Aboriginal use of plant and animal resources for commercial purposes. For example, all species of cycads in the Northern Territory are classified as Endangered under Northern Territory and Australian legislation, and listed on Appendix II of the Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), even though most NT cycad species are not threatened or declining (Hill 2003). Solving local problems through distant actions If local people are relatively powerless and if national policies are disenabling to local people, where can solutions to environmental decline and disempowerment come from? Solutions may often have to come from interventions that are very distant from the local situation. Deforestation in Indonesia has to be tackled at numerous levels, but especially at national and international levels. For example, the work of Barr (1998, 2000, 2001) made important Prepare for Impact!Values and Livelihoods 75

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain the names, voices and images of people who have died, as well as other culturally sensitive content. Please be aware that some collection items may use outdated phrases or words which reflect the attitude of the creator at the time, and are now considered offensive.

We use temporary cookies on this site to provide functionality.
By continuing to use this site without changing your settings, you consent to our use of cookies.