This research contextualises the environment that humans lived in and how different subsistence practices have impacted the vegetation. Much of western Tasmania is climatically suitable for rainforests. However, it is a mosaic of scrubs, eucalypt forest, moorlands and heathlands – with moorlands being the most extensive. The vegetation is, as described by Jackson (1968), in a state of disclimax; meaning it is decoupled from the underlying climatic regime and responding to other factors, particularly fire. The origins of the Tasmanian vegetation structure are debated with regards to three main causal agents: anthropogenic; climatic; or a combination of both climatic and anthropogenic factors.

The aims of this research will be, firstly, to determine the environmental history of Yellow Marsh in Surrey Hills, north-west Tasmania. Secondly, to determine which causal agent is the main driver for the changes in vegetation. Thirdly, to determine how the landscape changed across the transition from Aboriginal to European settlement, covering both the pre- and post-colonial periods. Finally, this research will attempt to determine what connections exist between the environment changes and historical socio-economic activities.

For the purposes of this research, a high resolution, multi-proxy approach using pollen, phytoliths, and geochemistry will be undertaken. This approach produced results that highlight the complex interplay between vegetation, climate, fire and humans in altering past landscape.

Advisory Team: Professor Patrick Moss, Dr Alison Crowther


Project members


PhD Candidate