The Great Barrier Reef is located off the coast of Queensland in north-east Australia and is the world's largest coral reef system. Designated a World Heritage Site, it has been subject to increasing pressures from tourism, fishing and climate change, and is now protected as a marine park. The Great Barrier Reef: An Environmental History provides an original account of the environmental history of the Great Barrier Reef, based on extensive archival and oral history research. It documents and explains the main changes in the environments and ecosystems of the reef, with a particular focus on the period since European settlement.
The time scale considered is primarily that of the main European impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, with a particular focus on the century from 1860 to 1960 which has not previously been fully documented, in contrast to the later period for which substantial scientific literature is available. More recent decades, when anthropogenic changes on the Great Barrier Reef spread, accelerated and intensified, are also reviewed along with implications for current management and conservation practices. The author provides a compelling narrative of how one of the world's most iconic and vulnerable ecosytems has been first exploited and then protected.
"Through a meticulous analysis of archival materials, official sources, publications, photographs and oral history evidence, this book documents for the first time how the colonisation of Queensland and the resultant growth of primary industries have contributed to the decline of the Great Barrier Reef [...] It provides important historical evidence that demonstrates that the detrimental impacts of increased human population, urban development and agricultural expansion in the Great Barrier Reef catchment area will have to be ameliorated to increase the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to the ravages of climate change."
– From the Foreword by Professor Helene Marsh, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
2. The Nature of the Great barrier Reef
3. The Social, Cultural, Economic and Political Context
4. Indigenous Australian Use of the Great Barrier Reef
5. The Period of Early European Exploration
6. The Period of Pioneering, Settlement and Unregulated Development
7. The Period of Regulated, Rational Development
8. The Period of Expansion and Intensification of Use
9. The Period of Scientific Monitoring and Management
10. Global Issues, Perspectives and Dimensions
11. Conclusions - Trajectories for the Great Barrier Reef
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Ben Daley is a Lecturer in Environmental Management at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK. He was previously a researcher at the School of Tropical Environment Studies and Geography, James Cook University, Australia.