Date of Award

2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Hugo Bekle

Abstract

This study examines the historical and present extents of native wetland-floodplain vegetation along the Swan River foreshore in the City of Bayswater, within the Perth metropolitan area. As a geographical history of native vegetation it is largely concerned with the contribution cultural values and modifications have made to ecological changes in foreshore biodiversity and the sustainability of the ecosystem. Adopted into the urban psyche, the Swan River forms a central artery in the cultural landscape and natural ecosystem; evocative and practical in combination. However, the contemporary foreshore is a modified environment with native vegetation, in terms of biodiversity and land area available to it, significantly deteriorated from its once pristine state. No longer supporting a wide range of birdlife, frogs and aquatic creatures, its health is a reflection of the changing human priorities assigned to it. Sustainable foreshore management, respecting the environment as an equal partner, is vital for survival of flora and fauna species diversity in Bayswater and the Swan River corridor as a whole. To that end, the memories of history inform and invigorate consciousness of the foreshore's ecological needs and potential. This study offers a local perspective of changes in native vegetation diversity and extents, and establishes an historical reconstruction indicative of how the Swan River environment has been transformed. The approach taken has important implications for understanding the human-environment relationship throughout the Swan River catchment, as well as other estuarine landscapes. Locally, this study found that Bayswater foreshore vegetation, across the river fringe and floodplain to the Bassendean Dune System behind, has declined to less than half its pre-settlement coverage. In some areas losses are in the order of 70% and more and the remnant ecology is no longer self-sustaining. Boding well for the future is that many individuals in society have accepted that it is our obligation to protect the foreshore ecosystem, and as a consequence, semi-natural environments are now receiving landcare and other restoration works. There, native vegetation coverage is improving and compensating for vegetation losses in parkland landscapes designed for cultural pursuits. However, differences in societal perceptions, over what is an appropriate landscape on the river foreshore, continue to appear as stark as the differences in contemporary foreshore conditions.

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