Insights into the indigenous-managed landscape in southeast Australia during the Holocene

Matthew Adeleye, Simon Haberle, Felicitas Hopf, Stephen Harris, D.B. McWethy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Understanding the long-term interactions between people and the ecosystem in which they live is vital for informing present-day ecosystem management plans. The use of pollen data for palaeoecological reconstructions is often limited by the low taxonomic resolution of pollen, which often reduces the detail of reconstructions of human influence on past vegetation. This is true for Australia where Myrtaceae, particularly Eucalyptus species, dominate the landscape, but their pollen is difficult to differentiate. We present a pollen record with high taxonomic resolution of Myrtaceae pollen from the Bass Strait area of southeast Australia, focusing on the period of major human occupation there during the Late Glacial transition. These results were compared to records of hydrology, fire, sediment deposition, herbivore abundance and human occupation. We found that Indigenous burning practices promoted open, subgenus Monocalyptus Eucalyptus woodland at the expense of dense subgenus Symphomyrtus Eucalyptus forest. Previous studies have shown the need for management of the vegetation of southeast Australia guided by Indigenous people, to promote ecosystem resilience and reduce the risk of wildfires. Our results reveal that in addition to reducing wildfires, cultural burning by Indigenous people has the potential to promote the diversity of ecosystems and habitats.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)419-427
    JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

    Cite this