Both ends of the candle? Discerning human impact on the vegetation

23rd January 2014

Lesley Head

Introduction*

1974–1994. Only the numbers have changed?

Twenty years is the scuffage on the rockshelter floor, or the bit of the pollen core that sticks to the scalpel. It is the time Darwin sat on his Origin, and the time it took his biographers to be ready to write his life. Why do we feel inadequate that we have not answered questions that were well and truly on the agenda two decades ago? The research environment is now dominated by the expectation that the rhythms of funding and breakthroughs will be in harmony—one or three or five years. I do not want to suggest that we should not be accountable for the ways scarce research funds are spent. I do want to argue that the spatial and temporal resolution of study necessary to identify prehistoric anthropogenic influences on the Australian environment precludes quickie solutions. As Frankel (1993: 31) recently argued, perhaps we should accept ‘a slower pace for substantial contributions’.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Head, L.
Both ends of the candle? Discerning human impact on the vegetation
December 1994
39
82–86
Article
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