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"207 Years - The Australian Environment"
207 Years - The Australian Environment
Darren McCutchen

Environmental impact is clearly evident in Australia. By using the concept of an ecosystem, the term environment is defined as being composed of six interconnected areas. Although Aboriginals modified their landscape, particularly through their use of fire, the impacts they made did not substantially damage the environment. In contrast, the white settlers quite deliberately set out to tame, civilze, and exploit the land. The native flora was affected by clearing, grazing, and introduction of foreign plants. Likewise, the fauna has had serious competition from introduced animals. Over half of Australia's wetlands have been destroyed in various ways, and our seas also fail to escape human impact. The land itself suffers from erosion, salinity, and desertification, as well as considerable change in the terrain. Industrial centres and the nation's cars affect the atmosphere. Each of these issues are closely inter-related. The seriousness of the impacts of 207 years of white settlement make it clear that the supporting ideologies are no longer sustainable.


"In the last one hundred years man has reshaped the earth more than he did in all the preceding generations, and today he changes land, sea and sky more rapidly and radically than he ever did in the past. The sheer scale of our present impact on the environment confronts us ..."1

Indeed it does! And here in Australia no less than elsewhere. In fact David Attenborough estimates that eighty percent of Australia has been damaged since white settlement.2

What have been the actions and ideologies behind the environmental impacts? What have the impacts been? Can the Australian environment continue to sustain the impacts? In answering the first question Aboriginal and white environmental ideologies are discussed; to illustrate the different land management approaches; to provide a baseline for the state of the environment before settlement; and to understand why the settlers interacted...

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