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Regional Indigenous Land and Sea Strategy (RILSS) for the Australian Desert region represents an additional, more focused layer to the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) Group’s strategic direction as laid out in the National Indigenous Land and Sea Strategy (NILSS) for the period 2019 to 2022. These are the first national and regional land and sea strategies that include water-based activities, following from legislative changes to the ILSC and its role.

Key Findings:

  • This region is one of the least populated areas of Australia, though as with Northern Australia the proportion of Indigenous residents is relatively high. Approximately 58,000 Indigenous people are estimated to live in the region, with the largest population clusters around Alice Springs.
  • Climate-change scenarios for Australia’s deserts have predicted that climate variability and unpredictability will increase. Individual rainfall events may be larger and more frequent with longer drought periods between the rain events. There is potential for dryland salinity to increase due to the erosion caused by run-off during extreme rainfall events. Both of these issues will contribute to an increase in woody vegetation and this, coupled with changes in rainfall, will affect the frequency and intensity of fire.
  • Dealing with environmental challenges is complicated by the number of jurisdictions across the region, with their differing policies and legislative/regulatory regimes. Environmental issues, as well as water use and allocation issues, are further complicated by cross-jurisdictional agreements – namely the Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan and the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement.
  • Australia needs to transform its energy sources to meet internationally agreed emissions-reduction targets (the UN Paris Agreement) to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change. The area around Alice Springs, NT, has a national and international reputation for solar energy adoption and integration. Solar energy has obvious applications in hot, arid areas.
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