The Regional Community
The region has a total population of approximately 155 000 people based on 2004 estimates, 145 800 of which reside in Townsville. Townsville is the major regional hub of the Burdekin and for other areas of North and Western Queensland. General population issues include:
There is an average rural population loss (~1% pa)
There is an increase (~1.8% pa) in the population of Townsville
The median population age for 2001 has increased, indicating an ageing population, and is higher than the Australian average.
There is a decline in the population of persons younger than 15 years
There is a decline in population of people between 20-39 years of age: particularly in the Charters Towers, Dalrymple, Flinders and Burdekin shires (B. Burkett, pers com.).
These findings also reflect the Australia-wide issues of rural exodus of young people, urbanisation and the ageing population (eg. Alston 2002, ABS 2003, Huego 2002).
Individuals and communities need both the motivation and the capacity to adopt sustainable land management practices. Among other things, a "desire to remain" (on the property), may increase the propensity of landholders to adopt sustainable resource management practices; they have a higher motivation than landholders who have little desire to remain. The same applies for the general public. If a high proportion of individuals within an area have little desire to remain, then one would expect to see declining populations. Hence, it is useful to consider changes in population when considering the propensity of communities to adopt sustainable resource management practices (Greiner et al. 2003).
Much of the decline in population across shires in the Burdekin Dry Tropics since 1986 is due to declines in the number of young people. To the extent that declining youth populations reflect lower 'desires to remain', the recent demographic changes within the Burdekin Dry Tropics region may reflect low, or declining, propensities to adopt innovative NRM changes (BRS, 2001).
Burkett, B. Department of Communities
Alston, M. 2002 Inland rural towns: Are they sustainable? Paper presented at the Academy of the Social Sciences Session on Rural Communities at the Outlook 2002 Conference. Canberra 5-7 March 2002.
Greiner, R., Stoeckl, N., Stokes, C., Herr, A., and Bachmaier, J. 2003a Natural resource management in the Burdekin Dry Tropics: social and economic issues. Report for the Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM Board. CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Bureau of Rural Sciences Social Sciences Centre. 2001. Compilation of a Database of Socio-economic Indicators for the Rangelands, Report for National Land and Water Audit Theme 4 Project 4.2.3, BRS Australia
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Updated NRM information is now held in the NQ Dry Tropics NRM Information Portal at http://nrm.nqdrytropics.com.au/.
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