Evidence against early nineteenth century major European induced environmental impacts by illegal settlers in the New England Tablelands, south eastern Australia.
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Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd
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 (210)Pb and radiocarbon, and counted pollen and other proxies. Our (210)Pb results indicate that (210)Pb 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 (210)Pb 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. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Australia, Environmental impacts, Trees, Pollen, Quaternary period, Drill cores
Woodward, C., Chang, J., Zawadzki, A., Shulmeister, J., Haworth, R., Collecutt, S., Jacobsen, G. (2011). Evidence against early nineteenth century major European induced environmental impacts by illegal settlers in the New England Tablelands, south eastern Australia. Quarterly Science Reviews, 30(27-28), 3743-3747. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2011.10.014