Aboriginal people and Australia's vegetation: Past and Current Interactions

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Ens, Emilie
Walsh, Fiona
Clarke, Philip
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David A. Keith

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2017
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Abstract

Plants have had significant and multiple roles in past and present Aboriginal people's lives. Aboriginal people extracted the food, medicine and material resources they needed from their immediate environment. Seasonal changes in plants and animals were markers in regional calendars and today they continue to influence some Aboriginal people's resource use, environmental management and move­ments. The first section of this chapter presents a selection of the many Aboriginal uses of plants from across Australia. Aboriginal people also secured resources from distant environments through travel and trade networks. Like people the world over and today, they manipulated their resources and their environments at local to landscape scales, for example through fire and harvesting practices, to supply material needs and suit their tastes and preferences. The second section of this chapter presents multi­disciplinary evidence that illustrates similarities and differences in modes and intent of plant resource procurement, "management" and production across Australia. Today, Aboriginal people maintain a vari­ety of links to their ancestral estates. These links are influenced by policy, legislation and locally-driven aspirations. Contemporary influences on Australia's vegetation occur through: continued customary practices for resource, ceremonial and social purposes; involvement in government or industry supported environmental management programs; and small-scale commercial bush foods, art and craft enterprises. An overview of some contemporary practices is presented in the third section of the chapter to present a summary of Aboriginal people's past to present uses and influences on Australia's vegetation.

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Australian Vegetation

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3rd

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Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified

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