Negotiating Indigenous benefits from payment from ecosystem (PES) schemes

Date: 01, May, 2016
Author(s):   Robinson, C, James, G., Whitehead, P.J.
Publisher: Global Environmental Change

This paper draws on research conducted with Aboriginal land managers across Northern Australia to show how and why payments for ecosystem service (PES) schemes should be framed around Indigenous rights to and relationships with their traditional estates. PES schemes offer opportunities to recognise and support Aboriginal communities’ land and sea management knowledge and practices, and there is strong evidence that Indigenous communities are seeking to engage with such schemes. We focus on Aboriginal savanna landscape management, particularly traditional burning practices, to extend the ecosystem services framework to recognise Indigenous values and interactions with their lands as a critical service for Indigenous well-being. Drawing on case-study analysis of PES projects negotiated to support Aboriginal fire management programs across Northern Australia, we show how cultural ecosystem services can be applied to represent the active, dynamic and often interdependent relationships inherent in Indigenous human–environment relationships.