Climate change impacts on Indigenous communities

Climate changes are not new to Indigenous communities, and many communities along the Queensland coast have assimilated stories about changing climates into their identity.

Users of the Marine Park may experience a reduction in recreational enjoyment as a result of climate change, which could lead to changes in the relationship between individuals and the Reef.  This may affect traditional and Indigenous identity, culture and belonging, and recreational opportunities for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Impacts

One of the key areas of concern for Traditional Owners is the impact of increased sea temperatures and potential changes in seasonal patterns on the availability of plant and animal life for traditional uses.  

In addition, climate change may impact their totems. Totems are used to identify Traditional Owner groups and may be represented in a number of marine animals and plants. As totems are an important part of Traditional Owner cultural identity and are especially significant in song and dance, any loss of totem animals and plants would have significant impact on the cultural identity of Traditional Owners including their lore and kinship relationships.

Also several owners believe that climate change will have a significant impact on their communities, resulting in the displacement of people from coastal communities through an increase in sea level.

Outlook

While several Traditional Owners have identified potential impacts from climate change on themselves and their culture, others accept that change is inevitable and essentially part of the natural order of their country and it has occurred in the past.