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 ... ... middle of paper ... ... 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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