We’re proud to launch our Phase 1 policy note,
Our Great North
Developing Northern Australia while retaining the world’s greatest tropical savanna is possible – here’s a proposal
Download whole book Our Great North (7M)
or download sections Recommendations; Introduction; Seven reasons to keep the savanna intact while developing Northern Australia; Seven recommendations to keep the savanna intact while developing Northern Australia; Final words and next steps, references
Why keep the North intact?
- An intact savanna is part of Australia’s identity
- An intact savanna is part of Australia’s rich Indigenous culture and important to most Indigenous communities
- An intact savanna provides lasting jobs and income streams
- An intact savanna is an investment in the future
- An intact savanna supports native flora & fauna which in turn support us
- An intact savanna advances our ethical standing as a nation
- An intact savanna safeguards the places we love
How can we develop the North whilst retaining an intact savanna?
- Let’s embrace the possibilities of development that’s socially, culturally and ecologically beneficial and set policy accordingly
- Let’s support Traditional Custodians to lead the way in sustainable development
- Let’s energise collaborative planning at local and landscape scales
- Let’s develop a shared policy framework and refesh the approvals process for major projects, and reinvigorate the national water initative in the North
- Let’s lift the governance capacity of community-based institutions, and strengthen community-led enterprise development and caring for country
- Let’s use science and local knowledge, and create a development Report Card to boost our clean, green reputation
- Let’s name the world’s greatest tropical savanna and celebrate it through a pan-northern stewardship partnership
Final words and next steps
Northern Australia is vibrant outback Australia. It’s monsoon country, where people are closely connected to the land and where Australian Indigenous culture is strong. The vast open forest and grassland that sweeps across the North forms the world’s largest intact tropical savanna. It spans 3,600 kilometres from the iconic landscapes of the Kimberley in the west, through the Top End, to the tropical rainforests and reefs of Cape York. The savanna encompasses the largest number of free-flowing seasonal rivers and associated unmodified shallow marine systems in the world, and so many unspoilt places we love.
The intact nature of this savanna is essential to the day-to-day lives and economic activity of residents and visitors. Most traditional regional industries here — grazing, tourism, horticulture, fishing and recreation — depend on its productive, functioning ecosystems, and many others benefit from the multiple goods and services the savanna provides. Emerging industries based on its natural resources such as experiential tourism, carbon farming, wild harvest products, crocodile farming, aquaculture and educational products and services, are also being recognised as vital to a successful future for the North, and indeed for Australia as a whole.
Despite its outstanding attributes, the savanna does not have a common name and there is no effective mechanism in place to safeguard its values.
This document seeks to raise awareness of Northern Australia’s unique savanna and to explain why it is wise to keep it intact and functioning. It offers a name for this significant asset and makes recommendations on how we might develop the North while maintaining its values. It suggests that, with foresight, we can lead the world in getting development right.
- Embrace the possibilities of development that’s socially, culturally and ecologically beneficial as well as economically prosperous, and set policy accordingly.
- Support Traditional Owners to lead the way in sustainable development and conservation.
- Energise collaborative, place-specific planning at landscape and local scales.
- Develop a shared policy framework and refresh the approvals process for major projects, and reinvigorate the National Water Initiative across the North.
- Lift the governance capacity of community-based institutions and strengthen community-led enterprise development and caring for country.
- Heed science and local knowledge, and create a development and conservation ‘report card’.
- Recognise the world’s largest intact tropical savanna and celebrate it through a pan-northern stewardship partnership.
Consider the purpose of development, its beneficiaries & the values we want to maintain
Plan for industries that generate multiple benefits & jobs, & have small footprints
Energise collaborative land-use planning at landscape & local scales across the North
Support Traditional Custodians to lead the way in sustainable development
Develop a shared policy framework, & refresh the approvals process, for major projects
Reinvigorate the National Water Initiative here via a northern-focused Water Commission
Lift the governance capacity of community-based institutions
Triple Indigenous ranger jobs & strengthen community-led resource management
Heed the science & listen to local knowledge
Create a development & conservation Report Card for the North
Name our savanna & celebrate its uniqueness & irreplaceability
Create a pan-northern partnership to grow a connected network of multiple tenures
that recognises land managers for conservation & sustainable use achievements
Make Australia a world leader in ‘getting development right’
As steward of the world’s greatest tropical savanna
Let’s keep it great, from Kimberley to Cape
For information about the science underpinning this document, please see our Evidence Base