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Vegetation change in a suburban coastal reserve

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-25, 23:06 authored by James KirkpatrickJames Kirkpatrick
Enclaves of natural vegetation in suburbia have an importance far beyond their area. The sprawling cities of materialistic Australia are in fact surprisingly well endowed with the lost values of rural beauty and natural scene. Sydney has its large national parks which provide an impediment to northern and southern suburban expansion as well as a large number of reserves in at least a near natural state around the margins of its magnificent harbours. Melbourne has Studley Park, a semi-natural area in a river setting within walking distance of the CBD, as well as a considerable extent of coast in a more or less natural condition. Adelaide has its pastoral parks which ring the CBD. Brisbane has the Mount Coot-tha Reserve. Perth is fortunate to have King's Park and Hobart its Domain and numerous other reserves, all in a close to natural state. Despite a rapidly growing and vocal conservation movement, which is largely centred on the cities, almost all of these natural and semi-natural reserves are suffering from a steady encroachment of other uses. They are regarded as the best sites for freeways and planned recreational expansion, and are even occasionally suffering commercial encroachment. Their natural qualities are also being steadily destroyed in a more subtle manner consequent upon the intensive land use that is found on their margins. Some of the symptoms and probable causes of such subtle change have been described in an earlier article in this journal (Kirkpatrick, 1974) in relation to the Sandringham Foreshore Reserve in Melbourne. This article completes the consideration of the reserve, in discussing the changes that have occurred in the vegetation with the suburbanization of its hinterland, the vegetation in 1971, and the problems of conserving the vegetation of the reserve in the future. In this paper the term 'native' is used to denote that a species to the best of my knowledge would have occurred in the Sandringham area before white settlement. The terms 'alien', 'introduced' and 'exotic' denote that a species has been introduced into the area since white settlement. A more detailed indication of the origin of all species mentioned in this article can be found in Kirkpatrick (1974) along with authorities for the nomenclature used. The word 'natural' is used to imply that vegetation is similar to that which would have probably been found in the area before white settlement. Thus, the most natural area of vegetation in the reserve would be composed of native species, have a structure that could be found in similar environments less intensively used by man, and would not owe its genesis to actions of European man. Similarly the word 'disturbance' is used purely in relation to the actions of European man. Normal environmental events and processes may lead to the creation of habitats suitable for the establishment of exotics, but are excluded from the definition of disturbance for the purposes of this article.


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Australian Geographical Studies



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