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University of Melbourne (1993)

The rise of ecological consciousness in Victoria : the Little Desert dispute, its context and consequences

Robin, L.

Titre : The rise of ecological consciousness in Victoria : the Little Desert dispute, its context and consequences

Auteur : Robin, L.

Université de soutenance : University of Melbourne

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1993

Résumé
The central event in this thesis is the Little Desert dispute, a 1969 controversy about whether land in western Victoria should be developed for agriculture or retained as natural bushland. The Little Desert dispute has lived on in the minds of protagonists and later environmentalists as a cultural icon and a ‘win’ for conservation. This pivotal event provides a framework within which the politics of nature conservation, ecology and land management can be examined. The thesis explores the role of ‘public science’ – science in government, bureaucracy and the community – in this context, as well as tracing the history of the science of ecology in post-war Australia. The second focus of this thesis is ‘the rise of ecological consciousness’ – the rise of the political relevance of the natural world and emerging concerns about the place of people in nature. This is a multifaceted concept, and includes ‘ecological’ in both its scientific and philosophical guises. ‘Consciousness’ is studied I the individual, collective and political senses.
The Little Desert dispute occurred just as ecological consciousness was beginning to rise in Australia and throughout the western world. The resolution of the dispute through the establishment of the Conservation Council of Victoria and the Land Conservation Council, in 1969 and 1970 respectively, was played out against a backdrop of changing environmental values and systems. The dispute had antecedents in diverse utilitarian, scientific, aesthetic and romantic conservation traditions. It was these values that motivated the leading protagonists, who were conservationists but not environmentalists. However, many environmentalists today look back on the Little Desert dispute as the beginning of the new ‘ecologically conscious’ era. The contribution of earlier conservationists to the environmental movement is often overlooked in environmentalist literature. Through examining closely the role of science and scientists in land management, this thesis explores some of the continuities as well as the discontinuities of the ‘environmental revolution’ in Australia.

Mots clés : environmental responsibility ; ecosystem management Victoria ; Little Desert National Park ; Little Desert dispute

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Page publiée le 3 juin 2013, mise à jour le 4 juillet 2017