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      girraween > history > a glimpse of girraween

Chapter 6 - A Bright Future

The landscape of Girraween National Park has changed since the time it was the hunting grounds of its traditional custodians and the farmlands of our forefathers. The future managers of Girraween must face a variety of challenges as we strive to maintain an environmentally sustainable future.

Even though the Aboriginal people of the area used fire as a land management tool, the subsequent difference in frequency and intensity of bush fires since the coming of the European settlers has affected the composition and structure of plant communities. Some changes in the bush have been slow to occur - such as the replacement of original grassy groundcover with a shrubby understory. Others changes have been quite rapid - the disappearance of the fire-sensitive black cypress from the woodlands of Girraween's north-western ridges.

Other changes to the landscape are much more obvious. While the hills were left mostly untouched, large areas of the valleys were cleared for grazing, orchards and crops. Ringbarking and timber felling also turned bushland into open grassy fields, where introduced weeds were quick to take over.

The European settlers introduced many new plants into the landscape, some of which have gone wild and become weeds. Modern visitors also, unknowingly, bring exotic species into the park on their vehicles. Many weeds can be found growing along the roadsides and in the camping areas. Blackberry, Whisky Grass, African Lovegrass, pines, thistles, Scarlet Pimpernel, Catsears, Honeysuckle and the pretty daisy-like Coreopsis are all introduced species.

Settlers also introduced a number of animals that have since gone wild - pigs, cats, rabbits, foxes and even fish! Feral Goldfish and Mosquito Fish (gambusia) threaten native fish and amphibian species.

Rabbits are no longer the problem they were in the past, but foxes are still a serious threat to native animals. Foxes and cats not only hunt the wildlife, but they also carry parasites which can kill or harm native animals. For example, foxes carry a mite which causes mange and blindness in wombats.

Feral pigs damage natural habitats as they hunt for food in the park's watercourses and swamps. They wallow about disturbing the soils and uproot plants which would otherwise prevent erosion. Pigs also compete for the same foods found in forest litter that the Superb Lyrebirds need. The larger pigs have a higher breeding rate and litter size, so the birds are at a great disadvantage.

Land clearing and over hunting also contributed to the decline of many native animals - such as the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby and Koala.

The good news is that the park's rangers are making significant progress in rehabilitating degraded areas and reducing the unnatural pressures on the native plants and animals. Plants native to Girraween are being carefully propagated from collected seed and the seedlings are then planted in cleared areas to hasten the rehabilitation process.

Girraween staff use new-age methodology of national park management to help protect Girraween's biological diversity

Pest and fire management programs, species management programs for the rare and endangered, and environmentally-friendly facilities and practices help ensure the increasing demands of Girraween visitation do not impact on the natural environments that Girraween's creatures rely on. [For more information, see the Girraween National Park Management Plan.]

Rangers today have more tools in their tool-kit than at any time in the past. From better-equipped tractors to satellite-linked telephones and GPS, email and on-line camping booking systems. In some ways the management of national parks is now easier, but there are always new challenges and greater public expectations.

In the past couple of years, new terms have also evolved into the everyday language of Australians. Together with looming climatic concerns and increasing living pressures, people are adopting new attitudes in the workplace and home, with the goal to globally help care for the environment.

Even at national parks like Girraween, there can be no exception! While remaining as a place for nature and a playground for naturalists, adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts, Girraween must be a carbon-friendly environment. Solar power, water resources and fuel are being utilised more efficiently.

With the continuing advance of technology, the implementation of effective management schemes and greater public awareness, the future is looking bright for Girraween.

Previous...   Chapter 5 - Nature's Extremities

Farmlands, 1953.
© Max Vincent, 2010.
Farmlands, 1953.

© Girraween National Park, 2009.
Blackberry - an introduced species.

Feral pig trap.
© Michael Jefferies, 2009.
Feral pig trap.

Trays of seedlings.
Native seedlings.

Fauna Survey.
© Paul Grimshaw, 2011.
Fauna Survey.

Solar hot water has been installed in all the rangers' residences.
© Girraween National Park, 2009.
Solar hot water has been
installed in all the rangers' residences.

© Vanessa and Chris Ryan, 2009 | Copyright Details and Disclaimer
Last updated: 7th May 2014