Australian Immigration And Its Effects

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Australian Immigration and Its Effects

Australia is an island continent which is geographically isolated from

the rest of the world. This has resulted in the evolution of many unique plants

and animals and the development of a very fragile ecosystem. This ecosystem has

been influenced by human immigration for many thousands of years.

The original immigrants were the Aborigines who are thought to have

migrated to Australia from Asia between 50 and 100 thousand years ago. These

primitive people learned to live in the inhospitable environment of Australia

with very little effect. Their major environmental impact was from the use of

controlled burning of the land. Over the years they had learned the benefit of

periodic fires to control pests and to clear debris before it accumulated and

led to large uncontrolled disastrous fires. This also returned nutrients to the

soil which helped to grow back new vegetation. Unlike those who followed, the

Aborigines had very little impact on the environment.

Following the Aborigines, Asian seafarers are believed to have traveled

to Australia to trade on the north shores. Experts are not sure, but they

believe that these seafarers are the ones who first introduced the dingo into

Australia almost 3,500 years ago. The dingo rapidly became the top predator and

is probably the cause of the disappearance of the Tasmanian wolf and the

Tasmanian devil from Australia. They will hunt down almost anything but they

are not known to attack humans. They will attack kangaroos, wombats, rabbits,

and even lizards. After the settlers arrived and the sheep were brought in, the

dingo started to hunt the sheep. The sheep were much easier for them to get.

As a result of this the sheep grazers built a 3,307 mile long fence to separate

the sheep from the dingo. A $20 US bounty is now placed on the pelt of each

dingo.

European immigrants did not come to Australia until after April 29, 1770

when captain James Cook landed in Botany Bay and made the first claim for

England on the eastern part of the island. He called it New South Wales.

In 1787, England started their first colony in Australia which was a

penal colony since England's prisons were very overcrowded. That year, on May

13, eleven ships carrying almost 1,500 people, 800 of them convicts, left

England for the new colony. The ...

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... to spawn.

The European immigrants had specific ideas regarding the beauty of

nature. The Australian landscape did not fit these standards of beauty. They

therefore began to landscape by first clearing native plants and replacing them

with imported ones. The list of these plants grew year after year. Some failed

while others thrived and overcrowded the native plants. One of these plants is

the Prickly pear. It was originally imported as a hedge plant but eventually

took over 120,000 square miles of land.

The effects of immigration on the Australian environment over the last

few centuries has been devastating. The original European immigrants could not

foresee the major impact their transplants and traditions would have on the

environment. Even if they had, conquering the land was necessary for their

survival. In many areas the environmental degradation may have past the point

where it can be restored and is now beyond repair. However, with greater

understanding and knowledge of the Australian ecosystem it is hoped that further

degradation can be stopped or even reversed. What is needed now is the

commitment of people and resources to make it happen.
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