An analysis of wild harvest, enrichment and intensive production of bush food, and benefits to Aboriginal people in remote Australia

  • Amelia Graham

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    The bush food industry in Australia represents a unique and significant opportunity to engage Australian Aboriginal people in the market economy. There is a growing awareness of the multiple benefits of enterprises based on wild resources. These enterprises can be a culturally appropriate way to reduce dependence on welfare, may promote sustainable natural resource management and also the maintenance of Aboriginal knowledge, language and culture. This thesis sets out to review the economic, cultural, social and environmental advantages and disadvantages of wild harvest, enrichment and intensive (horticulture and captive breeding) approaches to bush food production. These advantages and disadvantages and factors for success are analysed in order to discover which approach may maximise benefits and facilitate Aboriginal involvement.

    Six case studies were examined:
    • Acacia species (wattle) seed and Crocodylus porosus (salt-water crocodile) wild harvest;
    • Terminalia ferdinandiana (gubinge) and Macro pus species (kangaroos) as examples of enrichment production; and
    • Duboisia species (pituri) horticulture and Dromaius novaehollandiae (emu) farming enterprises to illustrate intensive production.

    Analysis revealed that industries that offer social, cultural and health benefits to Aboriginal people as well as economic benefits are the ones that attract Aboriginal involvement regardless of production approach. For these six case studies, benefits to Aboriginal people decreased with increasing intensity of production. However, there are many complicated factors that contribute to the success or failure of enterprises based on native plants and animals in Australia, some of which are discussed in detail in this thesis. Recommendations for future development of the bush food industry include: research; careful development of appropriate policy, legislation and communication; enrichment trials; participation; and recognition of non-monetary benefits that arise from involvement in bush food enterprises. Successful development of Aboriginal economic enterprise requires trial and error to find approaches that suit different individuals and communities.
    Date of AwardJun 2008
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAnthony Cunningham (Supervisor), Stephen Garnett (Supervisor), Christine Schlesinger (Supervisor) & Penny Wurm (Supervisor)

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