Reconstructing reefs: qualitative research and the environmental history of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Daley, Ben, Griggs, Peter, and Marsh, Helene (2008) Reconstructing reefs: qualitative research and the environmental history of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Qualitative Research, 8 (5). pp. 584-615.

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Abstract

Given recent concerns about the degradation of coral reef ecosystems world-wide, we investigated the environmental history of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia using qualitative methods. In particular,we used archival and oral history sources to reconstruct changes in coral reefs, islands and marine wildlife species for the period 1860–1970 and we evaluated the potential of qualitative methods to inform marine environmental research. Here, we argue that qualitative research offers a valuable means of reconstructing environmental changes, their drivers and their historical contexts. However, we found that qualitative methods also had important limitations. Hence we identify strategies for addressing those challenges and we suggest criteria for ensuring the accuracy and rigor of qualitative sources in marine environmental research. Overall, we argue that qualitative methods offer distinctive insights into the environmental history of the Great Barrier Reef, and that qualitative reconstructions can act as important triggers for conservation of marine ecosystems.

Item ID: 8129
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: archival research; environmental history; Great Barrier Reef; marine environment; oral history; Queensland
ISSN: 1741-3109
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2010 03:01
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 3
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