Uluru Environmental Strategies By Claudia Litver

Reversing the damage of several generations of human traffic in Uluru and the conservation of Anangu land is of tremendous importance if we are to protect this sacred aboriginal site. Management and protection strategies have been implemented by park rangers and scientist, who have communicated with the Anangu people for a manageable, sustainability project. Introduced species of animals have wrecked havoc on the surrounding areas of Uluru as well as compromising the well being of Australian natives, humans have created their own damage through tourist trade. Environmental conservationists have been able to successfully make clear strategies for the future of Uluru and for the care of one of Australia’s most important land sites.

Uluru/Ayers Rock

Human traffic has damaged Uluru by causing a type of erosion. Tourism is strong in Australia and thousands of foreigners and Australians travel to the countries centre to experience Uluru’s beauty and get a sense for the aboriginal heritage. The walking track has been worn away by millions of climbers and the rock itself has been badly eroded. Strategies for guarding Uluru from this human erosion such as, introducing different activities for the tourists which can draw away the attention from the climbers. Most importantly the Anangu people and park rangers educate tourists about the spiritual significant of the area and refer to Uluru as their sacred church. Educating the public about respecting Uluru will hopefully minimise the amount of human tread on the rock.

Uluru tourist trap

The human footprint is further affecting the area of Uluru, tourists are leaving behind huge amounts of rubbish and sometimes even converting the area into a human toilet. Increased water usage, waste and energy consumption are damaging the area, tourists leave behind litter that negatively impacts small native animals welfare and habitats as waterholes are polluted with rubbish. There are no toilets or holes on Uluru, human excretion gets washed off the rock and into water holes, polluting animals drinking water. Limiting climbing on the rock and adding more controlled rubbish disposal systems will limit the amount of human pollution and support animal habitats.

Rubbish on Uluru

Introduced plant life into Uluru is compromising Australian native plants and killing small indigenous animals. Buffel grass is the most invasive weed that scientists and park rangers are engaged in eliminating. Buffel grass chokes out native grasses, destroying habitats for native animals and provides further fuel for wild fires in areas not recently burned. Management of Buffel grass is based on its removal, volunteers remove the grass by hand, however because of how fast it spreads, scientists are considering other means to the effect of a combination of burning and herbicides. It is crucial to remove Buffel grass, historical evidence shows us that weeds are able to survive and regrow in areas and the strategies but be maintained consistently.

Buffel grass

The introduction of feral animals has done much damage in Central Australia. Local park rangers have dedicated much time trying to eradicate feral camels, cats, rabbits and foxes from the area. Camels were introduced in the 1840’s to assist with exploration; the current camel population damages water holes and soaks as they drain the water in huge amounts at rapid speeds. Camels and rabbits eat the grass and vegetation causing weathering to the soil, depleting important plant species from the area. Foxes and cats hunt small animals who inhabit Uluru, and are a major threat to Australia’s natives. Scientists discovered a virus that was introduced to the rabbit population to cull numbers. Controlling the animals is done with the permission of the Anangu people, strategies involve baiting and killing the ferals to control the numbers, further the Anangu people have adopted rabbits and foxes into their diets, hunting them for food and pelt.

Uluru camels

Some of the implemented conservation strategies are easier to read as being more effective than others in so far as evidence based environmental success. Dealing with the eradication of introduced species has been successful because we can actually count the animals culled and can tag large groups which can be used along with data to show if killing ferals has lead to the successful regeneration of native animals and fauna. Also limiting tourists climbing Uluru will no doubt be an important way of conserving the natural geography of the rock itself. It is easy to understand that the introduction of rubbish disposal will undo human damage to the area. However it is harder to realise the benefits of weed eradication because it is an ongoing and volunteer based program. All conservation is good and should be developed further, without conservation Uluru will simply be a huge, uninhabited garbage dump.

Example of a rubbish dump


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