University of Tasmania
whole_KeagePeterLawson1981_thesis.pdf (14.24 MB)

The conservation status of Heard Island and the McDonald Islands

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posted on 2023-05-26, 21:54 authored by Keage, PL
For all its area, the subantarctic region has few land outcrops and those which do occur, with the exception of Heard Island and the McDonald Islands, have been extensively and irreversibly affected by human beings. As the last unspoilt unit representative of the subantarctic biome Heard Island and the McDonald Islands are of outstanding universal value. They contain unique natural features of exceptional beauty and host habitats of rare and endangered plant and animal species. With the cessation of sealing on Heard Island in the early 1900's, extreme geographic isolation and severity of climate have deterred visitors. The Islands are now experiencing increasing popularity and legal nature protection and conservation measures which can be considered to apply to the Islands are insufficient to ensure continuation of their biological integrity. This study draws attention to. the conservation status of subantarctic Heard Island and the McDonald Islands which are governed by Australia. Legal controls for the protection of nature on the Islands are assessed and contrasted with international conservation treaties and scientific programs which apply to the subantarctic region. It is concluded that the conservation status of the Islands is delicately balanced and that steps need to be taken as a matter of extreme urgency, to upgrade legal controls to facilitate their future protection. Practicable options available to government to afford appropriate protection to the Islands are identified and examined. These are: (a) introduction of new legislation; (b) incorporation of the Islands under the control of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service; or (c) incorporation of the Islands under the Antarctic Treaty (Environmental Protection) Act 1980. Of the three approaches, Option (c) is considered to be most beneficial for the Islands and would provide continuity between Antarctic and subantarctic nature conservation measures. The history, geography and biology of the Heard Island and the McDonald Islands are discussed in the first half of the study to provide background to the subantarctic region generally and to give an appreciation of the current value of the Islands. The second half is devoted to describing and assessing past and current legal controls to protect nature. The final section focuses on reform options to upgrade nature protection which may be pursued by government. It is evident from this study that the Islands under study are worthy of international conservation status. Declaration as a Biosphere Reserve under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or inclusion on the World Heritage List in accordance with the World Heritage Convention are particularly relevant. However, action in this direction is dependent on, and subsequent to, the reforms options identified.


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Copyright 1981 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Env.St.)--University of Tasmania, 1981. Includes bibliographical references

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