Key Features: Provides clear and authoritative recommendations for managing fire in ecological and social contexts Authors are all international leaders in their fields and include not only academics but also leaders of Indigenous communities Explains Indigenous cultural and knowledge systems to a degree that has rarely been accessible to lay and academic readers outside specialized disciplines like Anthropology Responds to growing need for new approaches to managing human-ecological systems that are in greater sympathy with Australia’s natural environments/climate, and value the knowledge of Indigenous people Timely for scholarly and interest groups intervention, as the Australian government is again looking to ‘develop the north’ Sustainable Land Sector Development in Northern Australia sets out a vision for developing North Australia based on a culturally appropriate and ecologically sustainable land sector economy. This vision supports both Indigenous cultural responsibilities and aspirations, as well as enhancing enterprise opportunities for society as a whole. In the past, well-meaning if often misguided policy agendas have failed – and continue to fail – North Australians. This book helps breach that gap by acknowledging and harnessing Indigenous cultural strengths and knowledge systems for looking after the country and its people, as part of a smart, novel and diversified ecosystem services economy.
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The editors deserve our gratitude and congratulations on assembling an invaluable guide to what needs to change in the way North Australia is responded to. While this is an expensive volume, it will be an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to understand and engage with the debates about land, water, culture and resources across the region. The urgency of shifting dominant, business-as-usual approaches to national stewardship of this continent, and of integrating the best of Indigenous, cultural and scientific knowledges into considered decision-making, is difficult to overstate. There are terrific illustrations, really powerful, short and articulate boxed texts, excellent references and accessible presentation of data throughout the book. The volume brings together rigorous research from the humanities in Chapter 3 on the history of dispossession, colonisation and legislation across the North, and from the social sciences in Chapter 4 on economic development policies and programs. Chapter 5 on rethinking sustainable economic foundations across the North, Chapters 6 and 7 on community scale resilience and Chapter 8 on governance are deeply informed by, and engaged with, scientific research in collaboration with diverse Indigenous scientists, communities and values. For geographers, this volume is a terrific supplement to the emerging literature presenting new cultural geographies of the region. In those works, we are beginning to see geography marshalled not as a means of colonising places, but as a partner in treasuring, protecting and celebrating places and their connections across space and time. This is a very contemporary view of the challenges and opportunities of North Australia. There is none of the boosterism, racism and ignorance that has characterised so many discussions of the region. Instead, this deeply collaborative work presents the thoughtful and well-informed understanding and assessments of people who are deeply connected to the region. The principal audience for the book is probably more advanced than most classroom groups, but that should not deter teachers who will find the material offers an exciting integration of human and physical geographical perspectives and resources, and makes them accessible through good referencing with a lot of the material referred to being easily accessible online. The work presented in Sustainable land sector development in Northern Australia brings diverse and important resources into easy reach for classroom use, and offers a stark contrast to earlier generations of knowledge that demeaned, diminished and discredited the discipline of geography with huge consequences for North Australia and its wonderful places and diverse peoples. -- Richard Howitt, Emeritus Professor of Human Geography, Macquarie University, New South Wales, in Geographical Education, Vol 32 2019