Climate change presents serious challenges for those, often marginalised, coastal communities that rely on freshwater resources for their livelihoods and cultural practices. The freshwater floodplains of the Kakadu region, Northern Territory support the ongoing cultural practices, including customary harvesting, of Aboriginal Australians. The floodplains however, are at risk from saltwater intrusion from sea level rise. My research examines how Aboriginal people here have responded to past and present changes to floodplain country and their access to freshwater resources in order to see how this might inform future adaptation strategies. Responses to key socio-ecological drivers influencing harvesting, such as invasive species and altered fire regimes, mobility, health and land management practices were identified. Collectively, they present serious challenges for sustaining customary knowledge and access to freshwater resources, even prior to the projected future ecosystem transformation. This research has broad implications for the development of adaptation strategies for marginalised people living in locations susceptible to climate change.
About the speaker
Emma Ligtermoet is a PhD candidate at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU and CSIRO, based in Darwin, Northern Territory. Her PhD is in human geography, focusing on socio-ecological change and Aboriginal customary harvesting practices in coastal floodplain systems. Emma is supervised by Professor Richard Baker (ANU), Assoc Prof Sue Jackson (Griffiths Uni) and Dr Peter Bayliss (CSIRO). Prior to starting her PhD, Emma worked in aquatic ecology and natural resource management in state government, university and NGO sectors in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Malaysia and Laos. Emma completed an honours degree in Conservation Biology and Environmental Science at Murdoch University.