Associate Professor Duane Hamacher is at the intersection of Indigenous Knowledge and modern science. He came to Australia to complete a Masters in astrophysics and a PhD in Indigenous studies. At astrophysics conferences, he sometimes struggled to convince peers that Indigenous Knowledge was anything more than folklore. But Indigenous science is dynamic, adapting to changes in the land, seas and skies, built on careful observation over 65,000+ years.
There is no denying that climate change is here. In many of the articles I have written for the Royal Society of Victoria, climate change seems to be a common thread woven among them. In Australia, this means warmer temperatures, less rainfall, and more extreme weather events. How do we ensure our land is ready for the change that is already happening and continues to intensify? Years of attending RSV presentations only reinforce in my mind our desperate need for better land management.
As a custodian species of the planet’s ecosystems, we have become disconnected from our responsibilities, attending to the patterns that build the complex web of life. Our activities and waste products are disrupting ecosystems, impacting the reproductive success of other animals. Pharmaceutical waste can persist even in the most remote places on the planet, including Antarctica. But it’s not all bad news, particularly if we pay attention to where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.
There are around 6,500 different types of Australian native foods, but there are many barriers to First Nations people commercialising them. Currently, Aboriginal people only receive 1-2% of revenue from the commercial bush food space. The good news is that 40% of the land mass has been returned to Traditional Custodians, and now with a formalised commercialisation and export strategy for native foods, the opportunities for Indigenous producers are endless.
The latest issue of the Proceedings of the RSV features papers from the 2021 ‘Stewardship of Country’ Symposium, which delivered presentations across multiple domains of land management practice and scholarly expertise, representing an historic collaboration between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts, industry practitioners and thinkers. The series posed the question: who are we becoming, as Australians faced with an increasingly unpredictable and challenging future?