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Kakadu: Beyond Measure

The economic and social value of Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park supports over 1,180 jobs and contributes $136 million to the Australian economy each year. It is a social asset worth $10 billion.

At nearly 20,000 square kilometres, Kakadu National Park (Kakadu) is Australia’s largest terrestrial national park and one of only 38 UNESCO World Heritage sites worldwide to be listed for dual natural and cultural values. It is Aboriginal Land, home to the world’s oldest living culture, with Aboriginal groups occupying the region for over 65,000 years. Kakadu is jointly managed by the Director of National Parks (Parks Australia) and Aboriginal Traditional Owners.

Kakadu encompasses not only unique cultural art sites but also contains a living cultural landscape, with the history and presence of the Traditional Owners recognised throughout Kakadu.

Kakadu offers rare experiences unlike anywhere else in the world. Famous landscapes, ancient rock art sites, waterfalls and hidden tracks, a variety of flora and fauna, fishing and bird watching experiences, all connected to Aboriginal culture.

How would you put a price (a value) on the Library of Alexandria, on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, on the ancient living environment of Jericho – or on the life and soul of your Mother? These are not esoteric thought experiments but open questions for an economic system of valuation that measures the transactional power of ‘things’. Measuring the value of Kakadu challenges us to see beyond our assumptions of ‘things’ and to recognise that Kakadu is a place of spiritual, cultural and social strength to every Aboriginal Australian. Every Australian and every visitor is welcome to engage with Kakadu as an ancient library (substantively older than Alexandria), with its ancient landscape (nurtured for millennia longer than Babylon) with it as an ancient living environment (continuously inhabited far longer than Jericho). For Aboriginal Australians, and the people of that country specifically, it is their Mother and her love is cherished and shared with everyone as only a Mother can. Kakadu is not just a location – it is a part of our national soul. What value should we put on that?

- Professor Deen Sanders OAM  Leader | Deloitte Indigenous

This report assesses the economic and social value of Kakadu. It synthesises the findings of existing literature research on Kakadu, a survey of over 1,000 Australians and 500 members of the international community, and insights from stakeholder consultations including Traditional Owner groups, Aboriginal leaders, local businesses and government representatives.

The report estimates Kakadu’s:

  • Contribution to the Australian economy through industry value added and employment
  • Social asset value to all Australians
  • Brand value and contribution to national identity
  • Significance of Kakadu’s Aboriginal cultural values
  • Environmental value of Kakadu’s unique biodiversity.

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