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the GBRWHA. Nevertheless, while the recent history of European activities in
coastal Queensland is broadly characterised by rapid urbanisation and expansion
of the tertiary sector, primary industries - mining, grazing, sugar cane farming and
aquaculture - remain economically significant activities in the region (Powell,
1994; Bowen and Bowen, 2002).
This chapter has provided a brief overview of European settlement in Queensland,
which followed a long period of natural and cultural changes since the formation
of the Australasian continent. In summary, the period since European settlement
in Queensland represents a time of considerable environmental change, although
that period belongs within the larger history of the broader environmental impacts
of European settlement in Australia and the environmental transformations
wrought by Indigenous Australians (Archer et al., 1998). In Queensland, the
first European settlers encountered an environment that had been extensively
transformed by natural processes and by Indigenous Australian land management
practices. In that context, the spread of European settlement, driven initially by
pastoral expansion, was extremely rapid after the founding of Moreton Bay in
1824. By 1860, three major coastal ports were operating and, by 1920, most of
the economically viable land in Queensland had been taken up by settlers. After
1860, sugar cane farming became the dominant form of agriculture in the colony
and, later, extensive plantation production methods were replaced by the small
cane farming system. By 1900, various environmental impacts had been sustained
in coastal Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, including the depletion of
guano, bĂȘche-de-mer , pearl oysters, dugongs, marine turtles, red cedar and rainforest
areas, as the earliest terrestrial and marine industries became established. In the
following decades, closer settlement and further land clearance also contributed
to environmental degradation, which was compounded by the rapid expansion of
tourism, commercial fisheries and mining during the second half of the twentieth
Significantly, since European settlement in Queensland commenced,
many human impacts have been concentrated in coastal areas, increasing the
interaction between land-use in the GBRCA and the condition of the nearshore
waters of the Great Barrier Reef (Resource Assessment Commission, 1993). With
its growing impact on coastal waters, European settlement in the region inevitably
resulted in the degradation of the adjacent habitats of the Great Barrier Reef.
The dominance of grazing, sugar cane farming and mining in Queensland means
that those industries, in particular, are strongly implicated in the degradation of
the Great Barrier Reef. Moreover, the very rapid spread of European influence
in Queensland, the predominantly coastal European population and the relative
economic specialisation of the colony means that environmental impacts have
been concentrated geographically and temporally in coastal locations. Although
the eastern coast of Queensland is long, the relative inaccessibility of large
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