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Kimberley to Cape Roundtable discusses future development in Northern Australia

Earlier this month, some 90 representatives and leaders from organisations and groups across the top of Australia gathered in Darwin to discuss the future of development in Northern Australia.

‘Kimberley to Cape’ hosted a two day Northern Australian Futures Roundtable that focused on Northern Australian land and sea futures. Representatives attended from indigenous groups, mining and petroleum companies, tourism, fishing, Agriculture and pastoral companies, environmental and community NGO’s as well as representatives from Local, State and Federal agencies.

The roundtable was the first meeting held by ‘Kimberley to Cape’, an initiative aiming to work with others to ensure that development and conservation across Northern Australia enhances the well-being of communities and the natural and cultural values of country.

‘Kimberley to Cape’ Coordinator Dr Clare Taylor was encouraged by the interest shown by such diverse sectors for discussing how Northern Australia can achieve a future that safeguards the North’s unique values, and how much common ground there is between sectors.

Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Kimberley) Grey Mackay who attended the meeting said what was evident very early on was the willingness and acknowledgement that a long term shared vision and future for Northern Australia was needed and more importantly seemed achievable,

“The discussion was open and frank, yet there was a sense that we were coming from a common place to protect and enhance the natural and cultural values of the region,” Mr Mackay said.

The inclusion of international conservationist Harvey Locke elevated the discussion to a larger playing field and certainly brought clarity and direction when things got bogged down or hit brick walls. For more information on the projects Harvey has been involved with, eg. Yellowstone to Yukon refer to (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Locke) .

Some of the recommendations from the workshop included:

  • Develop a shared strategic plan for development and conservation of the north
  • Develop a landscape-scale connectivity initiative based on the following vision ‘ensure that the world’s largest tropical savannah and rivers region remains one of the world’s greatest concentrations of biodiversity, retains its vital Indigenous cultures and supports healthy communities from the Kimberley to Cape York’
  • Establish a policy framework for large developments to ensure that enduring values (social, cultural, economic, environmental) are maintained, and embed this in a land use planning process based on good data and good science.

Outcomes will be presented to government and non-government processes related to Northern Australia as well as used by many participants in their own work.

The Roundtable Committee is now considering next steps in the evolution of Kimberley to Cape which will likely include the establishment of a network and identification of mechanisms to progress key recommendations.

For more information on the findings and outcomes, please check out www.kimberleytocape.net.au