I have written a few articles about what I believe is the “Terra Nullius” notions of the environment that are held and perpetuated by many in the “green” movement in Australia. (links below) As the Friends of the Earth have shown below, some are tackling the hard issues and searching for an evolution of green policy that acknowledges and works with Aboriginal understandings of land and the environment.
A recent edition of the A.B.C. “Australian Story” entitled “Cry me a river” focused on the objections of Cape York Aboriginal traditional owners to the Beattie governments “Wild Rivers” legislation. The Wilderness society has been campaigning for the Wild Rivers legislation since 2000. Cape York leader Noel Pearson, speaking in opposition to the Wild Rivers regime, raised issues of a conflict of understanding between white urban environmentalists and traditional owners. He said ““I’ve long suspected that that was going to be a source of confrontation with us and some sections of the Green movement. This is a clash that we are going to have to have, you know.”
Link to transcript of Australian Story http://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2007/s1936373.htm
An excerpt from The Wilderness Society’s national “Indigenous rights” policy. http://www.wilderness.org.au/campaigns/wildcountry/indigenous/indigplcy/
* the right to continue to campaign for the protection of wilderness, protected areas and biodiversity even if, after detailed consultation and discussion, Indigenous peoples do not support the protection of wilderness, protected areas and biodiversity.”
Excerpts from the Friends of the Earth national “Indigenous Land and Rights policy”
“Basic understandings of FoEA include: – recognition that Australia was forcibly occupied by European colonisers and that pre-existing sovereignty of Indigenous people has not been relinquished by Indigenous people. Correspondingly, the organisation continues to recognise this sovereignty irregardless of whether Australian common law deems that this is the case or not. ”
“A note on “Wilderness”
FoE Australia understands that there is no such thing as ‘wilderness’ in Australia. The natural landscapes of the continent are effectively cultural landscapes that have been formed over thousands of years through the interplay between natural processes and human management regimes.
FoEA therefore does not endorse the use of the term ‘wilderness’
The term ‘wilderness’ implies ‘empty’ or ‘unmodified’ land and hence effectively removes Indigenous people from ecological history. FoEA acknowledges that the environment movement has been complicit in the dispossession of Indigenous people on a number significant occasions in Australia and accordingly recognises the necessity of working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples to ensure this never happens again.”
Link to my articles on the subject
Cant see the forest for the trees https://paradigmoz.wordpress.com/2007/02/14/cant-see-the-forest-for-the-trees/
Creating Aborigines in our own image http://johntracey.blogspot.com/2006/10/creating-aborigines-in-our-own-image.html
Terra Nullius and ecology http://www.kalkadoon.org/index.php/2006/03/27/terra-nullius-and-ecology/