Rewards for providing environmental services - Where Indigenous Australians' and western perspectives collide

Kerstin Zander, D DUNNETT, Christine Brown, O Campion, Stephen Garnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rewards for environmental service provision, couched under market-based instruments, are widely touted in Australia as a means of improving natural resource management while empowering indigenous people. We document here the views of indigenous Australians in a community in Arnhem Land about their motivations for, and ways to provide, such services. Most respondents (93%) said that they 'look after country' to fulfil cultural responsibilities. Natural resource management, they said, should be carried out communally, primarily under the direction of elders and family. Sixty percent of respondents preferred direct payments such as cash or salaried remuneration like that commonly offered in return for ranger-like activities such as feral animal/weed control, coastal surveillance and prescribed burning. Some (14%) either did not want or did not need rewards for environmental service provision. Others (19%) preferred rewards in a form that benefited their community or family rather than themselves as individuals. There was agreement that outcomes should be monitored, consistent with the principle that reward payments should be conditional on performance. We suggest that a reward system that is too narrowly defined could thwart the potential for win-win outcomes from indigenous incentive-based natural resource management but that their articulation could allow solutions to be negotiated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-154
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


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