eCite Digital Repository

Ecosystem transformation following the mid‑nineteenth century cessation of Aboriginal fire management in Cape Pillar, Tasmania


Adeleye, MA and Haberle, SG and Ondei, S and Bowman, DMJS, Ecosystem transformation following the mid‑nineteenth century cessation of Aboriginal fire management in Cape Pillar, Tasmania, Regional Environmental Change, 22, (99) pp. 1-14. ISSN 1436-378X (2022) [Refereed Article]

Pending copyright assessment - Request a copy

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10113-022-01954-8


Ongoing European suppression of Aboriginal cultural land management since early-nineteenth century colonisation is widely thought to have caused major transformations across all Australian landscapes, including vegetation thickening, severe fires and biodiversity declines. However, these effects are often confounded in the densely settled southern Australia due to European land transformation. Landscapes currently under conservation and national park management in Tasmania are generally less disturbed, providing an opportunity to track ecosystem changes caused by the removal of Aboriginal peoples following colonisation in southern Australia. We use a multi-proxy palaeoecological technique and the analysis of historical aerial photography to investigate these changes in Cape Pillar, southeast Tasmania. Results reveal a major ecological shift following European colonisation, with the replacement of stable, open wet heathland characterised by minor fires (active cultural land use) with dense dry scrub characterised by major fires (cessation of cultural land use). We also discuss potential background role of regional climatic shifts in the observed ecological changes. Management programmes designed to restore open heathland pre-colonial cultural ecosystem would help reduce the risk of large fires in Cape Pillar.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Cape Pillar; Cultural burning; European colonisation; Fire; Heathland; Indigenous land use; Three Capes Track
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Landscape ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Natural hazards
Objective Field:Climatological hazards (e.g. extreme temperatures, drought and wildfires)
UTAS Author:Ondei, S (Dr Stefania Ondei)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:155659
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Biological Sciences
Deposited On:2023-03-03
Last Modified:2023-03-08

Repository Staff Only: item control page