Culturally Diverse Communities and Sustainable Natural Resource Use

Law, Lisa, McIntyre-Tamwoy, Susan, and Babacan, Hurriyet (2011) Culturally Diverse Communities and Sustainable Natural Resource Use. Report. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre , Cairns, QLD.

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Agriculture and horticulture in Far North Queensland (FNQ) have been dramatically shaped by Australia's long history of migration: from the early Chinese and European migrants that cleared the land for cultivation to the Italian and Hmong communities currently managing sugarcane and banana plantations (May 1984; Reynolds 2003; Blackman 2005; Tapp and Lee 2004). Indeed, Australia is a multicultural country with nearly half of the population born overseas. This important demographic profile is often not taken into consideration when discussing land use issues, rural development and sustainability. The proportion of people born overseas in FNQ currently stands around 15.2%, but this figure is greater when the birthplaces of parents are taken into consideration. The exceptional ethnic diversity of the settlement pattern of the region from 1889 onwards is illustrated by the fact that by 1996, residents of the local district around Innisfail spoke 48 different languages. This report examines how cultural and linguistic diversity shapes natural resource management practices in FNQ. In particular, this report considers the role that cultural diversity might play in sustainable farming. Given their importance to (and visibility in) the agricultural sector in the region, the main focus of the report is on the practices in those farming communities of Italian, Chinese, Sikh and Hmong descent.

The links between migration and cultural and natural resource management appear in differing ways in environmental research. For example, some researchers have developed models of population and environment interactions that include migration as a response to environmental change (Bilsborrow 1992). In other words, outward migration is modeled as a last resort after land degradation. The relationship between migration, multi-local livelihoods and natural resource management is more complex, however. Sierra (1999) cautions us against conceiving migrant resource-use in narrow/negative terms, pointing to the need for more complex models of migration/environment relations. Some of the mechanisms identified for inclusion in such models include: differential access and use of technologies, differential valuation/knowledge of ecosystems, differential economic resources, differential time horizons, differential incorporation into social institutions that affect use of ecosystems. Studies highlight the importance of systems with strong land tenure or social capital as ones where migrants are able to develop knowledge systems that are compatible to the new environment (Palsson 1998).

Item ID: 23475
Item Type: Report (Report)
Funders: Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF)
Projects and Grants: Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF) (Project 33)
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2013 05:23
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0599 Other Environmental Sciences > 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 20%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160403 Social and Cultural Geography @ 80%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 30%
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