Healing Country aims to be a world-first on-country capability, employment and business development training centre for Indigenous Australians.
Researchers at Murdoch’s Harry Butler Institute are part of a successful bid that has secured $5 million funding from the Australian Research Council to establish a new training centre dedicated to Aboriginal-led restoration of degraded landscapes.
“We’re setting out to build a ‘Restoration Economy’ for indigenous Australians where carbon, biodiversity values, and linked benefits like sandalwood and honey production are included in restoration efforts,” explained Associate Professor Rachel Standish, one of the Chief Investigators on the project.
The research we will undertake is wide ranging, from including seed production areas to seed enhancement technologies, biodiverse carbon capture systems, and soil health.”
Associate Professor Rachel Standish
Healing Country aims to be a world-first on-country capability, employment and business development training centre for Indigenous Australians and Dr Standish will lead research on aboveground biodiverse carbon storage.
The centre aims to achieve cost-effective restoration solutions that grow and strengthen Indigenous enterprises, expand and bolster diverse training pathways, and conduct innovative research to support the advancement of a diversified Indigenous-led Restoration Economy.
The project bid was led by Professor Stephen van Leeuwen at Curtin University.
“Indigenous Australians are intrinsically linked to our land, so if we can provide opportunities for Indigenous Australians to restore their Country while also offering business and employment prospects, that will make a real difference to everyone in those communities,” said Professor van Leeuwen said.
As the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration commences this year, the announcement of Healing Country is timely.
The project has five key objectives:
1. Cultural Prosperity
Train Indigenous Australians to lead and operate businesses that deliver to the markets of the Restoration Economy and address the targets of ‘Closing the Gap’ while ensuring a pipeline of qualified Indigenous professionals to operate the Restoration Economy.
Train researchers to use quantitative and qualitative eco-health assessments to assess the individual, community and population health benefit resulting from directly participating in restoration activities and the outcomes from ecological restoration that transform degraded land to ecologically resilient and productive ecosystems.
Trains Indigenous communities to be the 'go to' organisations for technical know-how in building the restoration economy by connecting with effective science delivery and training to frame the delivery of biodiverse restoration for on-country capability and enduring economic returns in carbon, native seed supply, restoration services, honey production, conservation and enhancement of culturally sensitive species and landscapes
Train researchers to use quantitative socio-economic assessments to assess the individual, community and population benefits resulting from Indigenous businesses participating in the restoration economy.
Develop Indigenous capacity to convert degraded and unproductive land of the Indigenous Land Estate to culturally resilient and productive ecosystems to provide enduring and sustainable commercial enterprises that support Indigenous connections with Country and community well-being and state-of-the-art expertise in land management and restoration services.
Healing Country will fuse Indigenous culture in a cooperative vision where science and traditional approaches to land management and rehabilitation will create and nourish an economy that supports healthy land and transform Indigenous restoration businesses into a major employer of on-country regional jobs.