Theme 4 - Sustainable landscapes and livelihoods

Tropical developing countries face a perfect storm of resource exploitation pressures, opportunities and conflicts. Food production will have to double throughout most of the tropics. If economies are to grow, extractive industries will have to be part of the equation. JCU researchers are studying the trade-offs that occur between environmental values and human livelihoods in areas subject to these changes.

The islands of Melanesia and beyond are home to some of the world’s poorest people, yet they hold huge deposits of mineral wealth and vast aquatic resources. History suggests these resources may be exploited in ways that lead to economic growth but not to local development.

We are studying development pathways in a range of different island situations to determine what contributes to their present resilience and what needs to be done to enable them to benefit from the development that occurs in their region. Our scientists are also studying how the people of this region can prosper in one of the world’s most disaster prone environments, and one that is exceptionally susceptible to climate change.

Vast areas of relatively intact forest still exist in the Congo Basin and in the Miombo woodlands of southern and eastern Africa. These hitherto inaccessible areas are now criss-crossed with new roads and railways – much of this infrastructure built to provide access to regions rich mineral resources. This is likely to have major impacts on development patterns in the region.

JCU scientists are studying these development patterns to determine how synergies between agriculture and extractive industries can be exploited to avoid haphazard and destructive 'frontier' scenarios from dominating the process.