Deakin University

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Ecological and Cultural Understanding as a Basis for Management of a Globally Significant Island Landscape

Version 2 2024-06-03, 13:15
Version 1 2022-09-29, 02:54
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 13:15 authored by Kim E Walker, Claudia Baldwin, Gabriel C Conroy, Grahame Applegate, Clare Archer-Lean, Angela H Arthington, Linda Behrendorff, Ben L Gilby, Wade Hadwen, Christopher J Henderson, Chris Jacobsen, David Lamb, Scott N Lieske, Steven M Ogbourne, Andrew D Olds, Liz Ota, Joachim Ribbe, Susan Sargent, Vikki Schaffer, Thomas A Schlacher, Nicholas Stevens, Sanjeev K Srivastava, Mike WestonMike Weston, Aaron M Ellison
Islands provide the opportunity to explore management regimes and research issues related to the isolation, uniqueness, and integrity of ecological systems. K’gari (Fraser Island) is an Australian World Heritage property listed based on its outstanding natural value, specifically, the unique wilderness characteristics and the diversity of ecosystem types. Our goal was to draw on an understanding of the natural and cultural environment of K’gari as a foundation on which to build a management model that includes First Nations Peoples in future management and research. Our research involved an analysis of papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, original reports, letters, and other manuscripts now housed in the K’gari Fraser Island Research Archive. The objectives of the research were: (1) to review key historical events that form the cultural, social, and environmental narrative; (2) review the major natural features of the island and threats; (3) identify the gaps in research; (4) analyse the management and conservation challenges associated with tourism, biosecurity threats, vegetation management practices, and climate change and discuss whether the requirements for sustaining island ecological integrity can be met in the future; and (5) identify commonalities and general management principles that may apply globally to other island systems and other World Heritage sites listed on the basis of their unique natural and cultural features. We found that the characteristics that contribute to island uniqueness are also constraints for research funding and publication; however, they are important themes that warrant more investment. Our review suggests that K’gari is a contested space between tourist visitation and associated environmental impacts, with an island that has rich First Nations history, extraordinary ecological diversity, and breathtaking aesthetic beauty. This juxtaposition is reflected in disparate views of custodianship and use, and the management strategies are needed to achieve multiple objectives in an environmentally sustainable way whilst creating cultural equity in modern times. We offer a foundation on which to build a co-management model that includes First Nations Peoples in governance, management, research, and monitoring.









Basel, Switzerland





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal