Ecosystem service valuation reinforces world class value of Cape York Peninsula's ecosystems but environment and indigenous people lose out

Luke D. Preece, Penny van Oosterzee, Kym Dungey, Peta Marie Standley, Noel D. Preece

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Cape York Peninsula's iconic status relies on its world-class landscapes and continuity of Indigenous occupation. Contests between economic, environmental, cultural and social interests have not considered valuations of ecosystem services. This first valuation of Cape York's ecosystem services asks the question: who is winning and where? The total ecosystem services value of Cape York is estimated conservatively to be AUD $130 billion per year. The value for each biome ranges from $0 ha-1 y-1 in 'non-remnant' areas, to $602,000 ha-1 y-1 for coral reefs. Ecosystem services value is comparable to the region's largest industry, bauxite mining. Mining has produced great benefits to the economy, but local communities remain disadvantaged, receiving a fraction of the ecosystem services value, estimated to be worth $120 M. The productivity of grazing lands is $18 ha-1 y-1, compared to the ecosystem services value of at least $3,300 ha-1 y-1. We argue that the high ecosystem services value of Cape York is because of Indigenous land management over millennia. Since the disenfranchisement of Indigenous people, ecosystems of northern Australia have suffered significant land degradation. A policy framework is required that acknowledges the value of ecosystem services and also incentivizes the cultural ecosystem services of Cape York.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)154-164
    Number of pages11
    JournalEcosystem Services
    Volume18
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

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