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How old is the Tasmanian cultural landscape?



Research confirms a model of Late Pleistocene inheritance of open vegetation using pollen-based landscape reconstructions.

Reconstruction quantifies change in landscape openness in a defined geographic area for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere. Results indicate a landscape dominated by treeless vegetation throughout the last 12 kyr. We identify a regional shift in regional vegetation at c. 4 ka, manifest as a rapid halving of rain forest cover from 40% to 20% landscape cover. This phase likely reflects a modulation of the effects of regional-scale anthropogenic burning in response to regional climatic change. Finally, evidence for a persistently open landscape supports the notion that this region represents an ancient cultural landscape resulting from the influence of anthropogenic burning through the last glacial cycle and its influence over post-glacial vegetation development.

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Geraldine Jaconsen