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Long read: Traditional Medicine, Aboriginal Health & Big Pharma.


Eucalyptus in the Outback
Eucalyptus tree in the Outback

Exploring the natural world for medicine is nothing new, humans have been experimenting with plants and animals to keep them healthy for tens of thousands of years. As one of the world's oldest surviving cultures, Australia's Indigenous people have a profound connection with the land and have amassed an in-depth knowledge of their native flora and fauna. This powerful traditional knowledge is derived from generations of observation and it has been a crucial factor in the longstanding survival of Australia's Aboriginal tribes.

Many communities worldwide, not just indigenous communities, still rely on natural products for both medicinal and cultural purposes. Traditional medicine continues to play an essential role in health care and it is estimated to be used by 60% of the world's population.

The Aboriginal people of Australia have always been careful stewards of their lands, and this has been essential in preserving the delicate and diverse eco-systems throughout their country. They have known for millennia that their health and well-being depend on their local plant and animal communities and have celebrated, protected and preserved them.

Australia is one of the world's 17 mega-diverse countries, 84% of its plants are found nowhere else in the world. The immense landmass (7.7 million km2) stretches from tropical regions in the north, an arid desert interior to temperate areas in the south. It is home to an incredible diversity of plants and animals, not to mention teeming life in its coastal and inland waters.