The Top End's wild buffalo populations should be culled for their carbon credits, according to a leading Northern Territory academic.
Speaking at a recent forum at the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs, Charles Darwin University’s Professor Stephen Garnett said Indigenous people in remote northern Australia should be able to create an income stream from buffaloes which, on average, belched a ton of greenhouse gasses every year.
"Conoco Phillips is paying millions of dollars to Indigenous groups in West Arnhem Land to create early fire breaks and it would seem logical to extend this to these four-legged methane factories," he said.
Professor Garnett said programs enabling Indigenous people to live on and care for their lands, such as those funded by Conoco Phillips, would only be successful if government policy removed impediments.
"The processes that well-meaning governments use to issue drivers and gun licences in Australia are a great example of the difficulties Indigenous people face in getting ahead," he said.
He said gaining birth certificates, irregular training sessions, and availability of driver trainers made obtaining a driver’s licence almost impossible in many communities while gun owners rarely had access to bolted down gun and ammunition safes.
"If you've changed your name or don't have access to proper gun cabinets suddenly you're excluded from a whole range of employment opportunities," he said.
He also commented on the broader benefits to health, education and social function for Indigenous people living on outstations.
"It is crucial we develop regional economies that draw on the desire of people to live on and work from their lands," he said.
Professor Garnett said government policies that centralised services in townships were working against the will of many of those they were meant to serve.
"Economies cannot be built around disembodied towns," he said, “While there is investment in access to homelands close to communities, much of the Territory will be emptied of people without increased investment beyond town perimeters.”
Professor Garnett said the successful ranger programs and caring for country program were proof that many Indigenous people were strongly motivated to live and work on their lands.