Cultural importance of the Daly River valued more than agriculture

27-May-2013

CDU's The Northern Institute Senior Research Fellow Dr Kerstin Zander

Australians place a higher value on the Daly River for its cultural use by Indigenous people than they do for agriculture, reveals a new study published today.


A Charles Darwin University research team, led by The Northern Institute Senior Research Fellow Dr Kerstin Zander, asked people in Sydney and the Top End how much they would be willing to pay for various services provided by the river.

“Overall, respondents ranked the Daly’s cultural value the most important followed by its recreational, ecological and agricultural values,” Dr Zander said.

“We were surprised to find that respondents, both from Sydney and the Top End, would pay about 30 per cent more to keep waterholes in good condition for Indigenous people than they would for high-quality fishing.

“People in the Top End would be willing to pay more for cultural, recreational, ecological and agricultural services provided in the Daly River region than those living in Sydney, however, the priorities were ranked in the same order.

“It is incredibly hard to compare cultural values with other values we hold for places like Daly River, and because they are so difficult to measure, these values tend to be ignored by decision makers.”

Using the survey responses as a projection of the wider population’s intentions, the team estimated that Northern Territorians would be willing to pay a total of around $6 million a year to retain the values of the Daly, with those from Sydney willing to pay $85 million.

“This may sound like a lot but it is realistic when you think of other expenditure in the region,” Dr Zander said.

“Any allocation of funding to maintain cultural values of the river would send an important message not only to the traditional owners of the river but also to Indigenous people around the world.”

Access the article at the PLoS One website: www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0064411.

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