Australians are willing to pay up to 50 times what they currently do for Indigenous people to manage their traditional land in northern Australia, Charles Darwin University researchers have found.
A paper by Dr Kerstin Zander, of the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, describes a nationwide survey of the types of environmental management that people would be willing to pay for and how much they would pay.
“We had nearly 1000 respondents and 70 per cent said they would be willing to contribute to a conservation fund that pays Indigenous people to carry out conservation activities,” Dr Zander said.
She said Indigenous people owned and managed more than 20 per cent of the Australian continent, three times the size of Spain, and much of it was relatively unchanged savanna or arid land.
“Currently a national five-year trial program provides about US$40 million per year to support Indigenous land management with other funds provided by non-government organisations, businesses and philanthropic trusts.
“Our surveys suggest that the Australian public would be happy to see up to $2 billion a year spent on looking after this country. There is certainly a willingness to pay much more than is currently provided.”
Dr Zander said that in return people said they hoped for good outcomes for biodiversity, reduced carbon emissions and improved recreational values. “Of the activities that could be undertaken, feral animal control attracted the highest level of support followed by coastal surveillance, weed control and fire management.
“Land management is one of the fastest growing Indigenous employment sectors. Other studies have shown that there are major health benefits, and economic savings, when Indigenous people work on their country. Investment in Indigenous land management could make a major contribution to closing the 17-year gap in life expectancy,” she said.
Dr Zander’s paper appeared in the journal PLoS One this week. To read the article in full visit: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0023154