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However you spell it, it sounds like good news.
October 11, 2002 7:14 AM   Subscribe

However you spell it, it sounds like good news. After five years of lobbying by the Aborigines, Australia set aside a huge chunk of the central Outback yesterday as the country’s largest national park. At 38,000 sq mi (98,000 sq km), Ngaanyatjarra is twice the size of Switzerland. This comes on the heels of the Canadian government's plans for ten new national parks and five new marine conservation areas over the next five years, a move greeted with skepticism by some. (And then there are those that say national parks are obsolete anyway). Has anyone been to any of these places?
posted by gottabefunky (12 comments total)

 
Sounds like good news indeed. It seems like they are totally handing over management of the land to the Aborigines to protect and use it. I'm kind of surprised at the mention that they are open to using it for eco-tourism, but if that's what they want to do, then good for them. Does anybody know how many indigenous people there are in Australia that will benefit from this? How many will be living/working there? And, coming from Oklahoma, how "aboriginal" do you have to be to benefit from this? In OK, you have to have I believe either 1/16th or 1/32nd Native blood to benefit from programs. Just wondering if it's similar in other areas.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:28 AM on October 11, 2002


In 1992 I volunteered with Doug Tompkins to help him secure land for his Parque Pumalin in Southern Patagonia. I've never been to Australia or Switzerland but would love to visit someday.

Relevant Atlantic article as well...
posted by gen at 8:34 AM on October 11, 2002


Well, I've been to a lot of Canadian National Parks, but nothing up in the Nunavut/NWT/Yukon area. That's next on the list, but such a pain in the ass to get to.
posted by Fabulon7 at 9:02 AM on October 11, 2002


I'm kind of surprised at the mention that they are open to using it for eco-tourism, but if that's what they want to do, then good for them.

It's a way to earn money.
More about Aboriginal ecotourism here and here. The articles are a bit dated though.
Most of the Ozzies are sleeping now, I'm sure there will be more answers by tomorrow.
posted by ginz at 9:31 AM on October 11, 2002


When I was a kid (aged 10-12), I read Park Ranger by Carroll Colby several times. It's a 1950s young-adult adventure story set mostly in Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park. Lots of dog-sledding, and some puddle-jumping. Always wanted to go there sometime.

As for Australia, I still like the idea from Greg Egan's Quarantine where the Aussies handed over autonomy over a chunk of the Northern Territory to the aborigines, who promptly ceded a free trade zone to expats fleeing Hong Kong. In the book, it was wildly successful.
posted by dhartung at 9:58 AM on October 11, 2002


Advice if going to Algonquin: get a canoe, or good hiking boots, preferably both, and go backcountry. The main area of the park (along the highway) and the car-camping areas are fairly nice, but very very crowded.
posted by Fabulon7 at 10:18 AM on October 11, 2002


I'm guessing Aboriginal politics is about to get a lot nastier.
posted by languagehat at 10:31 AM on October 11, 2002


I'm guessing Aboriginal politics is about to get a lot nastier.

Why would you think that? I'm not sure if you're joking or not.
The Arrente people already own the land in the 'Red Centre', where flocks of tourists still visit Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.
posted by ginz at 10:42 AM on October 11, 2002


Why would I think that? Because when significant amounts of money and power (such as controlling an area twice the size of Switzerland) become available, there's suddenly a lot more to fight over and people start fighting over it. I'm not saying anything bad about Aborigines, just that they're human. Check out the tribal politics surrounding casinos here in the US (not to mention virtually all other politics, eg. Iraq various contemporary international issues).
posted by languagehat at 11:48 AM on October 11, 2002


Perhaps you should should read more about the people and the land and eco tourism before making generalizations.
posted by ginz at 12:15 PM on October 11, 2002


ginz: I'd love to be proven wrong. We'll see who's right over the course of the next few years.
posted by languagehat at 1:46 PM on October 11, 2002


Does anybody know how many indigenous people there are in Australia that will benefit from this? How many will be living/working there? And, coming from Oklahoma, how "aboriginal" do you have to be to benefit from this?

More info on the region. The local population is about 1500, 75% Aboriginal, while there are about 400 000 people who identify* as indigenous in Australia. This is a remote, inaccessible and sparsely populated area, even by Australian standards.

I don't think there's going to be a stampede to "cash-in". This is a conservation arrangement which seems to formalise a longstanding and relatively undisturbed connection to country. A great example of self-determination, by my reckoning. And great post gbf!

* An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is:
-- A person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent
-- A person who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and
-- A person who is accepted by the Aboriginal community in which he or she lives.

posted by stinglessbee at 2:00 PM on October 11, 2002


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