Home » Dingoes » Future of an Icon: K’gari-Fraser Island, Climate Change and Social Expectations

Future of an Icon: K’gari-Fraser Island, Climate Change and Social Expectations

Or browse by topic

Browse by date

Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, Special Issue, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2015. http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tjem20/current#.VaxHp_mTznE

One of the papers in this Special Issue has been short-listed and two additional papers were longlisted for the annual best paper award. [Angela Wardell-Johnson, Guest Editor.]

“GUEST EDITORIAL Future of an icon: K’gari-Fraser Island, climate change and social expectations”: FREE DOWNLOAD: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/49ERURYi7RBCxUMnnuuQ/full.

K’gari-Fraser Island is under pressure in a changing global environment. The unique hydrologic and vegetation environments of K’gari-Fraser Island were driven by succession, fire and climatic change during the accumulated evolution of a series of 100-thousand-year cycles. The future of K’gari-Fraser Island is subject to significant changes in the way it is valued as a result of World Heritage listing, and increasingly as a tourism resource rather than a conservation asset. These global social and environmental changes have implications for the way in which planning for policy and management must emerge.

International obligations under the World Heritage Convention can only be met if the island is protected from destructive influences. Current state-based resourcing and policy meets state government policy priorities. However, it is federal obligations for Australia’s responsibilities under the global Convention that will protect the World Heritage values. Changes in the legal basis for management are needed to reflect the importance of World Heritage listing.

Recommendations for protecting the diverse World Heritage values for K’gari-Fraser Island in this special issue include:

  • systematic changes in Australia’s legislative system to improve potential to meet Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention;
  • review of World Heritage listing to include values based on cultural multiplicity and diversity of Butchulla people, with improved mechanisms for economic benefit beyond involvement in management;
  • cultural recognition of intrinsic value of nature to engender context-sensitive behaviours and visitor awareness through dedicated visitor centres with coherent interpretative material that clearly differentiate the World Heritage values of K’gari-Fraser Island; and
  • clear articulation of the values and purposes of World Heritage listing for management and monitoring to reduce the impact of people by applying robust and defensible measurements of the extent, severity and duration of environmental harm caused to species, ecosystems and physical values by human activities.

The quality of WH landscapes has important consequences for the health of people, communities, and in turn, for the natural environment. WH listed sites, such as K’gari-Fraser Island, provide unique cross-cultural and global connections between people and landscapes, and Australia’s economic and social stability guarantees the kind of governance that affords responsibility for WH values.


B.L. Allen, K. Higginbottom, J.H. Bracks, N. Davies & G.S. Baxter

“Balancing dingo conservation with human safety on Fraser Island: the numerical and demographic effects of humane destruction of dingoes”: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14486563.2014.999134

FREE DOWNLOAD: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/wVm4jJ2Bb8zpKNYdKXMp/full


Australian dingoes are threatened by interbreeding with domestic dogs. As a refuge from further interbreeding, the conservation significance of dingoes on Fraser Island is unquestioned. However, some dingoes presenting genuine human safety risks are humanely destroyed. In this study, we explore the potential effects of this on the sustainability of the island’s dingo population. Dingo abundance was 76–171 adult individuals during the mating (pre-whelping) season of 2012. A total of 110 dingoes were destroyed between 2001 and 2013. Approximately 66% of known-age dingoes destroyed were <18 months old and 65% of known-gender dingoes destroyed were male. In any given year, no more than four female dingoes of any age were destroyed during dingoes’ annual mating and whelping seasons. On only one occasion was an adult (and subordinate) female dingo destroyed during this period. Available data therefore indicate that the spatially and temporally variable removal of so few female and/or adult animals from a population of this size is highly unlikely to have adverse effects on dingo population growth rates or breeding success. Adverse effects of humane destructions might be expected to increase if a substantially greater proportion of adult and/or female dingoes are targeted for destruction in the future.

Clare Archer-Lean, Angela Wardell-Johnson, Gabriel Conroy & Jen Carter

“Representations of the dingo: contextualising iconicity”: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14486563.2014.985268.

FREE DOWNLOAD: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/jDPcUKcNQyFrN5rs2n3R/full


Iconic species can present particular political and management imperatives and often shape national identities, and are shaped by them. More importantly, in the case of K’gari-Fraser Island and the dingo, shape the perceptions of iconicity in that landscape. Iconic species are used to represent diverse human valuing such as commercial, recreational, national, conservation and cultural. The dingo is contested as an introduced species in social evolution, is identified as a pest animal in contemporary land management, raises ancient human fears of predation and is, at the same time, the iconic representative of a World Heritage Listed landscape, due partly to the alleged genetic purity of K’gari-Fraser Island dingoes. Iconic species are viewed differently depending on epistemological biases and disciplinary frameworks, but these multiple constructions are rarely acknowledged or articulated. This paper searches for commonalities in constructions of the dingo across three literatures: scientific, anthropological/cultural analyses and tourism geographies. We find that each of these disciplinary literatures is divided. Within this contestation the dingo remains a liminal being in human perception defined by a predominantly anthropocentric vision. But there are two participants in any gaze, and future research might seek to understand how the dingo looks back at humans.

S. Brown, C. Baldwin & L. Chandler *long-listed for annual best paper award

“Representation of Butchulla cultural heritage values in communication of K’gari (Fraser Island) as a tourism destination”: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14486563.2014.985266#abstract.

FREE DOWNLOAD: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/RWINX3C4eQIuZ98E7xnW/full


K’gari is a popular international tourism destination, having gained World Heritage (WH) status for its natural values. In spite of the local indigenous population, the Butchulla, having clear aspirations for its management, indigenous cultural heritage values have yet to be recognised in the listing. This project examined the degree to which indigenous values are visible in the promotion of K’gari as a tourism destination, through content and image analysis. The study found a lack of representation of indigenous culture in tourism marketing material. This acts to marginalise indigenous values and misses the opportunity to share a rich history, makes indigenous perspectives visible for visitors and provides a different perspective to the values for which WH status is nominated. The research provides recommendations about promoting indigenous cultural values in tourism and a future review of K’gari’s WH status, as well as recommendations for further research.

R.W. (Bill) Carter, Neil Tindale, Peter Brooks & Daryle Sullivan *long-listed for annual best paper award

“Impact of camping on ground and beach flow water quality on the eastern beach of K’gari-Fraser Island: a preliminary study” link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14486563.2014.985269


Concern for the maintenance of water quality of the lakes on K’gari-Fraser Island has attracted research attention but the impact of beach camping on beach freshwater has been poorly considered. The assumption has been that the natural assimilative capacity of the foredune ecosystem is sufficient to dissipate any negative environmental impact. An exploratory study of nutrients, faecal coliforms and faecal sterols in the watertable and beach flows associated with camping and non-camping zones reveals concerning differences between sample sites. The study suggests nutrient levels in the watertable are enriched in camping zones and that, in some areas, faecal coliforms persist in beach flows. The link to a human cause is supported by the presence of strong faecal sterol signals in soil samples from the watertable interface. The risk implications for human health are significant although the biological impact implications remain unexplored.

A.M. Gontz, P.T. Moss, C.R. Sloss, L.M. Petherick, A. McCallum & F. Shapland

“Understanding past climate variation and environmental change for the future of an iconic landscape – K’gari Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia” http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14486563.2014.1002120#abstract

FREE DOWNLOAD: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/q4mXQcyRnG7GjmBJtrCX/full


The unique combination of landscapes and processes that are present and operate on Fraser Island (K’gari) create a dynamic setting that is capable of recording past environmental events, climate variations and former landscapes. Likewise, its geographic position makes Fraser Island sensitive to those events and processes. Based on optically stimulated luminescence dating, the records archived within the world’s largest sand island span a period that has the potential to exceed 750 ka and contain specific records that are of extremely high resolution over the past 40,000 years. This is due to the geographic position of Fraser Island, which lies in the coastal subtropical region of Queensland Australia. Fraser Island is exposed to the open ocean currents of the Coral Sea on the east coast and the waters of Hervey Bay on its western margin and is positioned to receive moisture from the Indo-Australian monsoon, southeast trade winds and experiences occasional tropical and ex-tropical cyclones. We review literature that presents the current level of understanding of sea level change, ecological variation and environmental change on Fraser Island. The previous works illustrate the importance of Fraser Island and may link processes, environments and climates on Fraser Island with global records.

Sanjeev Kumar Srivastava

“Availability and uses of spatial databases for research and management of K’gari-Fraser Island”: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14486563.2015.1028108

FREE DOWNLOAD: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/vzVpiM2PnSfPJPns3ifb/full


K’gari-Fraser Island is a dynamic ecosystem influenced by natural and anthropogenic processes such as forest fires, tropical cyclones, pests and recreation activities. Being a unique sandy island, the ecosystem of this world heritage area is relatively more dynamic and sensitive than other parts of the world, especially under climate-change scenarios. For monitoring and managing this dynamic ecosystem, a huge archive of spatial information in diverse forms is available from various agencies, mostly in digital form. For example, the temporal coverage of the area with images can document and monitor the changing components across multiple scales. Moreover, the modern user-friendly technological component of geographical information systems facilitates the integration of diverse spatial data sets that originate from miscellaneous sources such as remote sensing, surveying, census, digitisation and crowd-sourcing. However, since these data sets are meant for various map-scales and themes, their integration often leads to inappropriate uses. This article discusses the availability of the archive of spatial data sets for the Island, their practical application, limitations and advantages. Finally, the article provides a theoretical model for the effective, efficient and judicious selection of data sets for their subsequent utilisation to provide insights into the sensitive ecosystem for effective research and management.

E.V.C. Vivian & T.A. Schlacher

“Intrinsic and utilitarian valuing on K’gari-Fraser Island: a philosophical exploration of the modern disjunction between ecological and cultural valuing”: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14486563.2014.990936


In this article, we address a problem found in both ecology and philosophy of culture. In ecology, it appears as the problem of environmental advocacy, within the cultural domain, of geocentric values; and in philosophy of culture, it becomes the question of whether an intrinsic value of nature can attain cultural recognition in late modernity. The concurrence of these two problems becomes apparent when the geocentric valuing of late modern ecology is considered in light of the philosophy of modern culture of Louis Dupré (Passage to Modernity): ecological valuing can be seen to reflect a recognition of an intrinsic value in nature which remains unrecognised in the broader cultural domain. This disjunction between ecological and cultural valuing has a negative impact on advocacy to protect the natural environment of K’gari-Fraser Island. We aim to clarify underlying cultural causes of this disjunction in order to contribute toward more successful advocacy of ecological values in the cultural arena. To this end, we apply our adaptation of the Principle of Double Effect to the problem of environmentally destructive use of motor vehicles on K’gari-Fraser Island.

G. Wardell-Johnson, D. Schoeman, T. Schlacher, A. Wardell-Johnson, M.A. Weston, Y. Shimizu & G. Conroy *short-listed for annual best paper award

“Re-framing values for a World Heritage future: what type of icon will K’gari-Fraser Island become?”: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14486563.2014.985267

FREE DOWNLOAD: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/6AfRsSFmiewqrUHQ8432/full


K’gari-Fraser Island, the world’s largest barrier sand island, is at the crossroads of World Heritage status, due to destructive environmental use in concert with climate change. Will K’gari-Fraser Island exemplify innovative, adaptive management or become just another degraded recreational facility? We synthesize the likely impact of human pressures and predicted consequences on the values of this island. World-renown natural beauty and ongoing biological and geological processes in coastal, wetland, heathland and rainforest environments, all contribute to its World Heritage status. The impact of hundreds of thousands of annual visitors is increasing on the island’s biodiversity, cultural connections, ecological functions and environmental values. Maintaining World Heritage values will necessitate the re-framing of values to integrate socioeconomic factors in management and reduce extractive forms of tourism. Environmentally sound, systematic conservation planning that achieves social equity is urgently needed to rectify historical mistakes and update current management practices. Characterizing and sustaining biological refugia will be important to retain biodiversity in areas that are less visited. The development of a coherent approach to interpretation concerning history, access and values is required to encourage a more sympathetic use of this World Heritage environment. Alternatively, ongoing attrition of the island’s values by increased levels of destructive use is inevitable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s