Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

Discovering Global Environmental Interconnections

‘Abriculture’ Using Forests to Feed Indigenous Peoples and Fight Climate Change

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Seith Fourmile of Gimuy-Walubarra Yidinji Nation of Cairns, Jenny Lynch Abriculture Development Officer in Cairns.  Photo: Stephen Leahy

Forests can not only suck climate-heating carbon out of the atmosphere, they are also an important source of food for many Indigenous peoples.

“Western food is making our people sick. Our bodies are adapted to eating bush foods,” said Seith Fourmile of the Gimuy-Walubarra Yidinji Nation of Cairns.

Australia’s Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples suffer from rates of diabetes three to four times greater than other Australians. Rates of high blood pressure, cardiovascular, and kidney diseases are also higher. Similar health problems have been found among Alaska’s Eskimo and Canada’s Inuit peoples.

The world’s forests “offer a cornucopia of 80,000 species of plants as foods,” writes botanist and medical biochemist Diana Beresford-Kroeger in her book The Global Forest. Western foods rely on just a few species, while oral knowledge of the other thousands of species is rapidly being lost, according to Beresford-Kroger.

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