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Title: Fire history of south-west Western Australia prior to European settlement in 1826-1829.
Authors: Hassell, CW
Dodson, JR
Keywords: Fires
Indigenous peoples
Historical aspects
Human intrusion
Issue Date: Apr-2002
Publisher: Backhuys Publishers
Citation: Hassell, C. W., & Dodson, J. R. (2002). Fire history of south-west Western Australia prior to European settlement in 1826-1829. Fire in Ecosystems of South-West Western Australia: Impacts and Management Symposium, 16th – 18th April 2002. Perth, Australia: Department of Conservation and Land Management. In I. Abbott, & N. Burrows (Eds.), Proceedings - "Fire in Ecosystems of South-West Western Australia: Impacts and Management" (vol. 1, pp. 71-85). Leiden, The Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers.
Abstract: Charcoal in sedimentary deposits is common in late Tertiary and Quaternary deposits in Australia well before Aboriginal people entered the continent. A Pliocene lake deposit 200 km north of Perth contains charcoal indicating wildfire was present in south-west Western Australia (WA) by that time and that climate is a controlling factor in providing conditions under which fire can establish. Superimposed on the natural fire regime, anthropogenic fire was imposed after Aboriginal people entered the continent in the late Pleistocene, and in areas of south-west WA that Aboriginals habitually occupied, had a controlling effect on the vegetation composition and structure. In areas fully occupied by Aboriginals, fire intervals appeared to have been much shorter than in those areas not generally occupied or used as a food source, and many intervals in occupied areas were in the range of 1 to 10 years. In contrast, offshore islands and southern forest regions of south-west WA little used by Aboriginals had major fires at much longer intervals. Similarly, analysis of core charcoal from a south coast estuary in semi-arid Fitzgerald River National Park, most of which was not occupied by Aboriginals in historic times, indicates intervals between major fires were in the range of 30 to 100+ years. It is possible that Aboriginal population numbers increased in the Holocene during climate amelioration following the Last Glacial Maximum which would have increased the area subject to short fire intervals. If this is so, the amount of Aboriginal burning at the time of contact with Europeans would have been at its maximum. © 2002, Backhuys Publishers
Gov't Doc #: 1043
ISBN: 9057821311
Appears in Collections:Conference Publications

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