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Abstract

Wik people on Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, aspire to economic independence. Commercial processing of native forest timbers is seen by Wik people as a culturally appropriate engine for economic development; however, much uncertainty surrounds their property rights to native forest timber. The granting of native title over some traditional Wik land in 2000 and 2004 was seen as a coup by Wik people, but some economists have argued that the inalienable and communal nature of native title is an obstacle to development in indigenous communities. An assessment of Wik property rights to timber resources reveals that a commercial forestry industry is consistent with their rights. In comparison with social and cultural factors, the inalienable and communal characteristics of native title are second-order development constraints for Wik people.

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