Cape York Peninsula Fire History and Palaeoecology Report

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

    Abstract

    The charcoal trapped in sediments can be used as an indicator of past fire activity. Charcoal records show that the climate-controlled trajectory of increasing fire during the late Pleistocene (41,000 to 11,000 years ago) was initially enhanced by people and that by the beginning of the Holocene (11,000 years ago) there was a balance between climate and human impact on fire regimes so that it difficult to disentangle the relative contributions of climate and people through time. Through the Holocene there is increasing evidence across Australia that people had a greater influence on shaping fire regimes and impacting upon landscape ecology. This is most strongly evident in the Cape York Peninsula region where fire, controlled by people, was a persistent and significant influence on the environment. The evidence for past fire regimes is an outstanding example of human interaction with the environment that has persisted for at least 9200 years and has likely been a significant factor since first occupation of the region by humans at least 41,000 years ago. Further palaeo-fire research will lead to an enhamced understanding the long-term environmental history of the Cape York Peninsula and will provide crucial insights into the origins and influences on the people, plants and animals that inhabit the region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Commissioning bodyDepartment of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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