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The Australian National University

The Djelk Ranger Program: An Outsider’s Perspective

Working Paper 27 / 2005

Abstract

This report is the result of a ten-day general conceptualisation research trip in May 2003 into an Indigenous community to study the Djelk Ranger program operating under the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation (BAC). During this visit I spent time with several different groups of Rangers and visited several sustainable wildlife harvesting sites which are described here.

The Djelk Ranger program established by the BAC is built on the extensive knowledge and skills that already exist within this Indigenous community. The success of the ventures mentioned in this report is built on a unique blend of formal legal institutional mechanisms and customary law and socio-cultural conventions. Cooperative community-based wildlife resource management and aquaculture has the potential to deliver sustainable and cost effective development benefits for Indigenous landowners. Greater recognition of the valuable land management and biodiversity conservation roles undertaken by Indigenous people in these circumstances would seem appropriate, and it would be desirable for these roles to be reflected in more formal and sustained income arrangements than the current CDEP project funding.

The opportunities for economic development in Indigenous communities, and some of the challenges that these communities face are demonstrated in the Djelk Ranger program initiative. The BAC is an impressive institution for its commitment to learning, communication, cultural integration, and economic development. There is clearly a need for such adaptive and flexible institutions to provide a bridge between cultures and protect the interests of remote Indigenous communities.

ISSN: 
1442 3871
ISBN: 
0 7315 4926 0

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