Evidence against early nineteenth century major European induced environmental impacts by illegal settlers in the New England Tablelands, south eastern Australia

Woodward, Craig, Chang, Jie, Zawadzki, Atun, Shulmeister, James, Haworth, Robert, Collecutt, Sasha and Jacobsen, Geraldine (2011) Evidence against early nineteenth century major European induced environmental impacts by illegal settlers in the New England Tablelands, south eastern Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 30 27-28: 3743-3747. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2011.10.014


Author Woodward, Craig
Chang, Jie
Zawadzki, Atun
Shulmeister, James
Haworth, Robert
Collecutt, Sasha
Jacobsen, Geraldine
Title Evidence against early nineteenth century major European induced environmental impacts by illegal settlers in the New England Tablelands, south eastern Australia
Journal name Quaternary Science Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0277-3791
1873-457X
Publication date 2011-12-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2011.10.014
Volume 30
Issue 27-28
Start page 3743
End page 3747
Total pages 5
Place of publication East Park, Kidlington, Oxford, U.K.
Publisher Pergamon
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Paleoenvironmental reconstructions from Little Llangothlin Lagoon have been used to argue for early European impact on the eastern Australian landscape. In particular, these studies have argued for European arrival on the New England Tablelands at about 1800 AD, with significant impacts including the clearance of one species of Casuarina before 1820 AD and significant erosion by 1836 AD (Gale et al., 1995; Gale and Pisanu, 2001; Gale and Haworth, 2002, 2005). We have re-cored the lagoon, dated the cores using 210Pb and radiocarbon, and counted pollen and other proxies. Our 210Pb results indicate that 210Pb background was achieved stratigraphically later than the erosion event and we have three early Holocene radiocarbon ages in the erosion event interval. We conclude that the ‘erosion event’ predates European settlement. The 210Pb results indicate much less erosion in response to European settlement than suggested by these earlier studies. We also find no notable decline in Casuarina in the pollen record spanning the time of initial European impact, and in fact we find very little Casuarina in the record. Instead of a Casuarina dominated vegetation we conclude that the area was dominated by open Eucalypt forest prior to European settlement. Rather than changes in the regional vegetation in the early 19th century, we attribute changes in the palynoflora spanning the ‘erosion event’ to changes within the lake/wetland and in particular to changes in the dominance of different species of Myriophyllum; most likely due to water depth fluctuation. This site has stood out as indicating an earlier European impact than other localities in eastern Australia, beyond the original limits of settlement near Sydney. Our findings suggest that a more traditional interpretation of this site is warranted and that no very early impact is discernable.

Highlights: ► Europeans landed in Australia in 1788 near the location of present day Sydney. ► Gale and Haworth (2002) infer major European impact 400 km north of this before 1820. ► This inference was derived from a 210Pb dated record from Little Llangothlin Lagoon. ► We re-cored the lagoon and dated cores using 210Pb and radiocarbon. ► Our results show no discernable very early European impact at this site.
Keyword European settlement
Australia
Pb-210
Pollen
Cal Kyr BP
Wales
Calibration
Swamp
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
Official 2012 Collection
 
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