Why Care?

snip of savanna to sea

The intact nature of the Northern Australian savanna provides the people of Northern Australia, visitors and many others with an enormous range of benefits that can’t be easily replaced, such as extensive clean and green productive grazing lands, abundant fish and great fishing, recreational opportunities, tourism experiences, prawning and pearling industries, clean water, carbon, wild harvests, biotech products and spiritual wellbeing. It also provides iconic landscapes, outstanding biodiversity and unique ‘quality of life’ feelings such as awe, joy, ‘home’ or simply ‘getting away from it’.  These benefits have multiple spin-offs for things like long term jobs and income generation, physical and mental health, and importantly, resilience and opportunities into the future.

Northern Australia’s savanna is also one of the few very large natural areas remaining on Earth and stands alongside such global wonders as the Amazon rainforests, the boreal conifer forests of Alaska, and the polar wilderness of Antarctica.

In contrast to the situation in highly transformed areas of southern Australia, being in and among nature is an integral part of life for people in the North and is important in attracting people to the region. For the high proportion of Northern Australian residents who are Indigenous, country is part of the essence of life. Knowledge of, and links to, the land remain strong, and there is an enduring responsibility to look after the land,  its plants and animals.

We currently have an option to safeguard North Australia’s values and benefits, but this choice may be eroded if development involves foodbowl-scale agriculture, large dams, monocultures, large scale land clearing or polluting, or poorly placed, industries. Such activities threaten water quality, food webs, soil health and other services as well as Indigenous connections to country and options for future generations. We also need to better manage fire, water, soil and feral animals to keep country healthy.

It’s really important to heed the lessons learnt from places that have been pushed beyond their limits, such as the Murray-Darling system or the intensively-grazed lands of the Burdekin in Queensland. Once on the trajectory of decline, it’s very expensive or impossible to restore the health of large natural systems; and their malfunctioning has disruptive and costly impacts well beyond their immediate geographic confines.

It’s good economic practice to maintain landscape health over the long-term. It’s both responsible and efficient to prevent problems or attempt to redress them as quickly as possible. We don’t know these systems well enough to figure out where their points of no return are, how far we can push the landscapes and stay within bounds of retrievability, but we can predict fairly well the basic impacts of particular developments and so have no excuse for getting development wrong but rather every reason to get it right.

Kimberley to Cape cares about the future of Northern Australia and is committed to achieving a successful future for this land and its people. We hope that our caring may help and inspire others.

(thank you to Woinarski et al 2007 for articulating some of these reasons so clearly) 

More reasons...