107 10 River sustainability essential for the livelihoods of landholders Angus Emmott Introduction The people involved in the management of the Lake Eyre Basin are among the most dedicated and united in their commitment to the long-term sustainability of these magnificent rivers (see Chapter 7). They come from many walks of life with a common purpose: to protect and sustainably manage these river systems. Sustainable management began with the first people, establishing 17 Aboriginal language groups across the Lake Eyre Basin. Landowners, like me, followed later and now live along the rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin. There are others who live outside the Lake Eyre Basin, sometimes regarded as not having such a strong stake, who also care deeply about the long-term sustainability of these magnificent rivers. These include the non-government organisations, government organisations and scientists (see Chapters 7 and 17). From a local’s point of view, we owe a great debt to all these contributors to the debate about the future of this great river system. All these people have brought their experience and deep love of country to their commitment to protect the rivers and not make the same mistakes as were made for many of the world’s rivers and wetlands (Kingsford et al. 2016). My family lives on the Thomson River (Fig. 10.1), south-west of Longreach. The river flows southwards, joining with the Barcoo River to become Cooper Creek, the world’s largest creek. The Lake Eyre Basin also has the Diamantina and Georgina Rivers and a host of other small rivers across western Queensland, which can eventually flow through to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre in South Australia. My family has lived in this landscape since my grandmother drew the property in a ballot in 1915, as part of the scheme to open up the larger ‘super properties’ to more families, encouraging settlement in these rural areas. I am the third generation of my family to live on this land, following the original Aboriginal custodians. We rely on the floods from the rivers for our livelihood, with large areas of floodplain on the property. The floods bring nutrients and water, which stimulate pasture growth on which our cattle thrive. I love this country and its range of different habitats. My other great interests are the ecology of this land and its rivers, and the flora and fauna that make up this ecosystem. These interests have provided me with opportunities to interact and work with scientists from many national and international institutions. Lake Eyre Basin a special place The Lake Eyre Basin is a wonderful system for both the environment and the people. It covers about one-seventh of Australia where a comparatively small population supports a range of sustainable industries (Kingsford et al. 2014). The Lake Eyre Basin has places of
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