Year

2011

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Honours)

Department

School of Earth & Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Lord Howe Island, located 700 kilometres north east of Sydney, New South Wales, is part of the World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island Group. In 1982 the Lord Howe Island Group was listed under the World Heritage Convention for its outstanding ‘natural’ heritage values. Since the listing, the World Heritage Convention has revisited the concept of ‘nature’ as the sole criterion for the designation of World Heritage, by embracing the concept of ‘cultural landscape’. However, this has no retrospective effect and therefore has not affected the listing of the Lord Howe Island Group. Consequently, despite a cultural heritage of over 180 years of European settlement, Lord Howe Island’s ‘cultural landscape’ and ‘intangible heritage’ are not valued in the process of managing it as a World Heritage Site.

This thesis explores the consequences of environmental management processes arising from World Heritage listing which presently operate to marginalise, if not silence, Islander knowledge and how Islanders and other residents care for the Island. To do so, the project invited all Island residents, including those employed in ‘environmental management’ positions, to talk about what and how they care for the Island. The project required the development of a methodology that employed mixed-methods, and, crucially, was mindful of the concept of islandness, that is the cultural protocols of island places. Applying a form of narrative analysis, the results explore the differences and similarities between how ‘Islanders’ and other residents, on the one hand, and ‘environmental managers’ on the other, talk about nature, the Island, boundaries, plants, animals and World Heritage. Case studies illustrate how ‘environmental managers’ and other Island residents, particularly ‘Islanders’, draw on different knowledge-making practices to care for the Island and how this often results in disagreement over what should be protected, and what belongs and does not belong on the Island. This thesis suggests contemporary concepts of World Heritage, including ‘cultural landscape’ and ‘intangible heritage’, offer a mechanism whereby the process of environmental management of Lord Howe Island can engage with different knowledges of caring for the Island.

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