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The conservation status of Heard Island and the McDonald Islands

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Keage, PL (1981) The conservation status of Heard Island and the McDonald Islands. Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

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.

Item Type: Thesis (Coursework Master)
Keywords: Heard Island (Heard and McDonald Islands), McDonald Islands (Heard and McDonald Islands), Nature conservation, Nature conservation
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

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).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Env.St.)--University of Tasmania, 1981. Includes bibliographical references

Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 02:24
Last Modified: 30 May 2016 00:42
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