Aboriginal artefact production in the Maningrida region
: harvest sustainability and pest control in the carving wood industry

  • Anne Philips

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    The harvesting of native timbers for the production of wood carvings is important culturally and economically to members of the Maningrida community, north-central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. This study was initiated in response to community concerns regarding the sustainability of native timber harvest and pest control within the artefact industry.

    A total of 18 vine-thickets were surveyed within floodplain and coastal habitats and transects were used to assess the density, distribution, and stand structure of Bombax ceiba, a species regularly used for artefact production. The density of B. ceiba within coastal and floodplain vine-thickets was 114.6 stemslha (± 46.0) and 125.7 stemslha (± 37.9) respectively. Regional B. ceiba populations were estimated as 45,390 stems (± 14,904) within floodplain and 37,189 stems(± 13,522) within coastal habitats. Harvest intensity varied from 11-60% of adult B. ceiba in patches surveyed. Adult stems with diameter less than 40 em contributed to 83.3% ofharvested B. ceiba. From a total of 54 harvested B. ceiba, 79.6% had coppiced, indicating a significant regenerative capacity.

    Wood borer infestation is causing lost revenue and impacting on Maningrida Arts and Culture (MAC) market expansion. Preliminary investigation identified Sinoxylon anale, and Minthea sp. to be present in MAC wood carvings. One or both types of wood borer were found to infest 24% of carvings surveyed. Suggested wood borer management options involve treatment of timber or wood carvings with Boracol200RH®. Selection ofborer resistant species with suitable carving properties would eliminate the need for chemical treatment.

    The results of this study suggest that while the harvesting of B. ceiba currently is sustainable in the Maningrida region, some patches are subject to considerable harvest impact. A developing Arts and Craft industry in the region may result in increased rates of B. ceiba harvest over time, possibly threatening future sustainability.
    Date of AwardJun 2001
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAnthony Griffiths (Supervisor)

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