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Time to share the wealth

Luke Preece and Penny van Oosterzee write in The Conversation (8.4.16) about Cape York Pensinsula’s rich natural ecosystems, and the potential economic benefits of conserving and turning them to more sustainable purposes, such as tourism and Indigenous land management.

‘Australia’s Cape York is one of the world’s most outstanding natural areas, a status recognised by the United Nations since the 1980s. Since then, there have been regular political tussles to recognise these values.

‘In the 19th century, Indigenous people were forcibly removed from the land. Aboriginal people have since regained ownership or control of about 40% of the peninsula.

‘Today, the area is dominated by mining and grazing, often in ways that don’t benefit local communities. Is this the best use of the land?

‘One way to answer this question is to look at the economic benefits of conserving the area. In a recently published paper, we estimated the value of Cape York’s ecosystems at between A$130 billion and A$512 billion per year. This is comparable to Queensland’s entire economy at A$295 billion per year.’

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