Cultural landscapes: a test case from northwest Tasmania
AffiliationSchool of Geography
Document TypeHonours thesis
Access StatusOnly available to University of Melbourne staff and students, login required
© 2020 Ellie-Rose Rogers
The influence of Indigenous management on the Australian landscape is subject to ongoing scholarly debate and is often mischaracterised within mainstream discourse as a passive rather than active practise (Bowman, 1998; Gammage, 2011; Pascoe, 2014; Fletcher, Hall and Alexandra, 2020). These debates inform current socio-ecological models in which human agency is largely omitted (Bowman et al. 1981; Jackson 1968; Wood et al. 2012). This project seeks to test the notion that the western Tasmanian landscape was constructed by Aboriginal people and that contemporary rainforest in this region invaded open fire-maintained vegetation following the British Invasion. In order to provide a direct empirical test to the veracity of claims made by early British surveyors this project employs a dendrochronology and aerial imagery analysis to reconstruct forest history pre and post-British Invasion in the Surrey Hills of northwest Tasmania, Australia. This work aims to investigate the landscape history of a part of northwest Tasmania in an attempt to highlight the social and ecological value of Indigenous fire management, and to provide empirical data to challenge contemporary narratives of passive occupation of the Australian landmass by Indigenous Australians. Findings from this research identified a clear relationship between the succession of Indigenous landscape management following the British invasion and exponential rainforest establishment. This research provides further evidence that demonstrates the impact Aboriginal people had on creating and maintaining the Tasmanian landscape which was invaded by the British, and provides an opportunity to reimagine current landscape management regimes and the role of humans within these systems.
Keywordsdendrochronology; fire; Indigenous Australia; palaeoenvironments; Western Tasmania; aerial imagery; cultural landscape; Palawa; cultural burning
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