Rainforests, agriculture and Aboriginal fire-regimes in wet tropical Queensland, Australia

Hill, Rosemary, Griggs, Peter, and Bamanga Bubu Ngadimunku Incorporated, (2000) Rainforests, agriculture and Aboriginal fire-regimes in wet tropical Queensland, Australia. Australian Geographical Studies, 38 (2). pp. 138-157.

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Abstract

This paper challenges the hypothesis that Aboriginal fire-regimes in the coastal wet tropics of north Queensland have been responsible for significant rainforest decline in the past, and rejects the narrative that recent rainforest expansion is the result of the disappearance of Aboriginal people and their fire practices from the area. Mapping of vegetation in the Mossman district in c. 1890 from surveyors' plans, and in 1945 and 1991 from aerial photography demonstrates that the expansion of rainforest since 1945 represents a recovery following extensive rainforest destruction associated with sugar cane cultivation in the first 70 years of European occupation. Kuku-Yalanji Aboriginal people continued to occupy their traditional lands, and participated in the sugar industry, throughout this period. They adapted their fire management practices to the changed economic and social circumstances. Management of fire by the Kuku-Yalanji people prior to European occupation ensured the presence of extensive rainforest cover, whilst also providing access to fire-prone forests and their cultural resources.

Item ID: 12764
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Aboriginal studies; agriculture; fire; rainforest
ISSN: 1745-5871
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2012 02:39
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0705 Forestry Sciences > 070503 Forestry Fire Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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