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Impacts of nutrient additions and digging for human waste disposal in natural environments, Tasmania, Australia


Abstract and Figures

Very little research has been undertaken on the impacts of human toilet waste disposal in non-serviced sites in the wild. The objective of the present project was to determine the relative impacts of the mechanical disturbance of digging during the burial of toilet waste (faeces and toilet paper), and urination, on Tasmanian vegetation types that occur in areas used for wild country camping, in order to develop appropriate guidelines. The mechanical disturbance of digging cat-holes 15 cm deep, typical of those used for toilet disposal in the Tasmanian wild, had largely negative effects on the growth of a few native plant species. These effects were of little or no conservation significance. The nutrient additions simulated by the addition of artificial urine to undug ground and dug ground had largely positive effects on nine distinct types of native vegetation, encouraging the growth of many plant species at many sites, while discouraging the growth of moss at one site. No weed species found at any of the sites were significantly affected by the treatments. Thus, it appears that scattered disposal of urine, even combined with digging, is unlikely to present a major conservation problem in the Tasmania's wild country, and that present guidelines are appropriate, where achievable.
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Impacts of nutrient additions and digging for human waste disposal
in natural environments, Tasmania, Australia
Kerry L. Bridle, Jamie B. Kirkpatrick*
School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 78, Hobart, 7001, Tasmania, Australia
Very little research has been undertaken on the impacts of human toilet waste disposal in non-serviced sites in the wild. The objective of
the present project was to determine the relative impacts of the mechanical disturbance of digging during the burial of toilet waste (faeces and
toilet paper), and urination, on Tasmanian vegetation types that occur in areas used for wild country camping, in order to develop appropriate
guidelines. The mechanical disturbance of digging cat-holes 15 cm deep, typical of those used for toilet disposal in the Tasmanian wild, had
largely negative effects on the growth of a few native plant species. These effects were of little or no conservation significance. The nutrient
additions simulated by the addition of artificial urine to undug ground and dug ground had largely positive effects on nine distinct types of
native vegetation, encouraging the growth of many plant species at many sites, while discouraging the growth of moss at one site. No weed
species found at any of the sites were significantly affected by the treatments. Thus, it appears that scattered disposal of urine, even combined
with digging, is unlikely to present a major conservation problem in the Tasmania’s wild country, and that present guidelines are appropriate,
where achievable.
q2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Camping impacts; Cat-hole; Urine; Vegetation; Weeds; Tasmania
1. Introduction
The overnight walking experience attracts substantial
numbers of tourists to wild country. Approximately 20,000
people spend at least one night out camping in the Western
Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area per annum
(S. Rundle, pers. comm.). While toilet facilities are provided
at many popular back-country camping sites, a substantial
number of overnight walkers defecate and urinate au
naturel. The research presented here was initiated as the
result of concerns that the processes of disposing of human
wastes outside toilets in the wild might have deleterious
effects on the environment. Most recent research on the
impacts of wilderness users has concentrated on the physical
disturbances caused by trampling and camping (Marion and
Cole, 1996; Leung and Marion, 2000a,b; Sun and Walsh,
1998). Given the lack of research (Cilimburg et al., 2000),
and increasing use of wild places by overnight walkers
(Lachappelle, 2000; Sun and Walsh, 1998; Poll, 2002),
there is an obvious need to determine the nature and
significance of any effects of toilet waste disposal in natural
environments, and the manner in which they vary in
different bushwalking environments.
Minimum impact guidelines for walker behaviour have
been disseminated to those who camp in the wild country of
Tasmania for more than a decade (O’Loughlin, 1988).
These guidelines are believed to have been effective in
changing the behaviour of back-country users in critical
areas, such as avoiding the use of fire and the avoidance of
water pollution. The guidelines for the disposal of toilet
waste (faeces and urine) suggest that disposal sites should be
at least 100 m from lakes or streams and campsites. The
guidelines also state that faeces and toilet paper should be
buried to a depth of at least 15 cm. This depth is not
attainable over most of the glaciated country of Tasmania
(Kirkpatrick and Bridle, 1999), and the excavation process,
to whatever depth is attainable, requires the severance of a
dense mat of roots. Cutting of roots occurs even where
excavation takes place in bare ground, as in many
environments at high altitudes (Kirkpatrick, pers. obs.).
Alpine plants are slow-growing and may have extensive
root systems. Therefore this severance could affect veg-
etation well away from the disposal cat-hole. Digging is also
a form of disturbance that could favour the establishment or
spread of particular species (Pyrke, 1994).
0301-4797/$ - see front matter q2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Journal of Environmental Management 69 (2003) 299–306
*Corresponding author. Tel.: þ61-3-6226-2463; fax: þ61-3-6226-2989.
E-mail addresses: (J.B. Kirkpatrick), kerry. (K.L. Bridle).
The addition of nutrients (via urine and faeces) and the
subsequent impact on exotic plant species has been largely
ignored in the recreational impact literature. Weed cover is
absent or minimal in the low nutrient and relatively
undisturbed environments of western Tasmania. Weeds
are usually present in other Tasmanian environments,
especially where there has been a history of stock grazing.
Urine is rich in nutrients, especially nitrogen. Huts in the
wilderness generally have a ring of introduced herbs around
their doors, possibly largely for this reason (Kirkpatrick,
1997). Faeces are also nutrient rich, in comparison to soils.
The addition of nutrients to native ecosystems has the
potential to change their nature (Kirkpatrick and Harris,
The aim of the research reported in this paper was to
determine whether digging for human waste disposal, the
nutrients in human urine and the combination of digging and
nutrient additions, affected attributes of the vegetation at
each of nine sites representing the major bushwalking
environments in Tasmania.
2. Methods
A total of nine sites were chosen on the basis of their
representativeness of environments likely to be used by
overnight walkers. General site conditions were noted,
including variables such as geology, altitude, and climatic
variables such as mean rainfall and mean temperature
(Table 1). Soil depth, texture and nutrient status data were
also collected.
2.1. Site selection and characteristics
Alpine areas have proven particularly sensitive to the
impacts of trampling (Gibson, 1984; Calais and Kirkpatrick,
1986; Whinam and Chilcott, 1999, 2003), and are highly
attractive destinations for overnight walkers. Alpine
environments in Tasmania vary enormously in their soils
and vegetation (Kirkpatrick, 1997; Kirkpatrick and Bridle,
1998, 1999). For this reason, two alpine sites were used in
the project. These exemplified the extremes of the alpine
environments in the State. The first was the western alpine
site at Mount Sprent (western alpine, Fig. 1). The climate,
soils and vegetation of Mt Sprent are well-known
(Kirkpatrick and Brown, 1987; Kirkpatrick et al., 1996;
Bridle and Kirkpatrick, 1997). It typifies the nutrient-poor,
acid, high rainfall (Table 1) extreme of alpine vegetation in
Tasmania. The plant community is Donatia novae-zelan-
diae bolster heath, with high cover of D. novae-zelandiae,
Oreobolus oligocephalus and Dracophyllum milliganii. The
eastern alpine site, on the Central Plateau (eastern alpine),
occurs at the other extreme of alpine vegetation in
Tasmania, with relatively nutrient-rich soils and relatively
low rainfall (Table 1). The vegetation is alpine heath in
which the most abundant taxa are Grevillea australis,
Leucopogon montanus,Pentachondra pumila and Poa spp.
The montane and subalpine zones of Tasmania are also
well-used by overnight walkers. Moorland dominated by
buttongrass (Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus) covers
much of these zones in western Tasmania, as well as
extensive areas of lowland (Jarman et al., 1988). A site was
established at Tim Shea (montane moorland, Fig. 1), where
the peat soils are acid and nutrient-poor and the rainfall high
(Table 1). The vegetation is dominated by buttongrass and
shrubs, most notably Leptospermum nitidum and Melaleuca
squamea. Subalpine rainforest is also widespread in western
Tasmania (Jarman et al., 1984). A site was selected at the
Hartz Mountains (subalpine rainforest, Fig. 1). The soils
formed on sandstone at this site are acid and low in the
macro-nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen, and the precipi-
tation is high (Table 1). The dense canopy of this forest is
underlain by a layer of diffuse shrubs, with a ground stratum
dominated by bryophytes. The third high mountain site was
placed in eucalypt forest on the Central Plateau (montane
eucalypt forest, Fig. 1). The soils are relatively nutrient-rich
and not extremely acid and the precipitation is moderate
(Table 1). The vegetation is Eucalyptus pauciflora-E.
rodwayi open-forest with an understorey in which Leuco-
pogon hookeri and Poa spp. are prominent.
Table 1
Environmental attributes and time of first treatment for each of the study areas
Site Geology Altitude
Mean annual
rainfall (mm)
Mean annual
Mean soil
depth (cm)
Time of first
Western Alpine Quartzite 950 3222 10.0 0.46 140 30.2 Loamy Sand Mar-00
Eastern Alpine Dolerite 1150 1056 11.6 0.37 760 25.9 Sandy Loam Feb-00
Montane Moorland Quartzite 850 1445 12.4 1.06 160 36.7 Silty Clay Feb-00
Subalpine Rainforest Dolerite 755 900 13.1 0.40 270 29.7 Loam Feb-00
Montane Eucalypt Forest Dolerite 945 854 11.1 0.31 440 17.9 Sandy Loam Feb-00
Lowland Rainforest Quartzite 450 1215 13.2 0.44 260 46.4 Silty Clay Apr-00
Heathy Eucalypt Forest Sandstone 110 677 16.8 0.52 130 33.6 Loamy Sand May-00
Grassy Eucalypt Forest Dolerite 230 619 15.6 0.16 120 13.6 Sandy Clay May-00
Coastal Eucalypt Forest Sandstone 5 507 17.4 0.16 55 65.2 Sand May-00
K.L. Bridle, J.B. Kirkpatrick / Journal of Environmental Management 69 (2003) 299–306300
A lowland rainforest site was selected on the Strathgor-
don Road (lowland rainforest, Fig. 1). Soils are nutrient-
poor and acid and rainfall is high (Table 1). The site is prone
to occasional waterlogging. The rainforest that occupies the
site has an understorey dominated by bryophytes (Table 3).
The dry eucalypt forests that occupy most of eastern
Tasmania (Duncan and Brown, 1985), have understories
that vary from heathy to grassy as soils become less acid,
more nutrient-rich and, with a greater proportion of clay in
the profile. A grassy eucalypt forest on dolerite in the
University of Tasmania Reserve (grassy eucalypt forest,
Fig. 1) was selected to represent one of these extremes. The
soils are only mildly acid and are nutrient rich (Table 1), and
rainfall is low (Table 2). Eucalyptus pulchella and E. ovata
dominate the tree layer. The understorey has a dense cover
of native tussock grasses, most notably Themeda triandra
and Poa rodwayi (Table 3). This site was burned last in
1995. A heathy forest on sandstone at Huntingfield (heathy
eucalypt forest, Fig. 1) was selected to represent the other
extreme of dry eucalypt forest. The soils are acid and
nutrient-poor and rainfall low (Table 1). The tree canopy is
dominated by Eucalyptus amygdalina. The understorey is
dominated by scleromorphic (small and hard-leaved) shrubs
and bracken (Pteridium esculentum). Bracken, Bossiaea
cinerea and Leucopogon collinus have the greatest covers in
this layer. The site was burned in 1998.
The coast is one of the most attractive places for
bushwalking and coastal sand dunes are one of the easiest
places to dig a hole for defecation in the wild. A coastal
eucalypt forest on Holocene beach ridges at Seven Mile
Beach (coastal eucalypt forest, Fig. 1) was selected. The
sandy soils are only mildly acid and moderately nutrient-
rich, and the precipitation low (Table 1). The forest is
dominated by Eucalyptus viminalis. The understorey is a
mixture of sagg (Lomandra longifolia), tussock grasses,
shrubs and succulent creepers. The species with the most
cover in this layer are the sedge, Lepidosperma concavum,
sagg and the succulent, Carpobrotus rossii.
2.2. Site environmental data
Soil chemical properties have an impact on vegetation
dynamics at each site. Any addition of nutrients is likely to
change nutrient balances. For example, low fertility soils
may show an increase in plant productivity after the addition
of artificial urine, which is rich in the macro-nutrients
Fig. 1. Location of all sites mentioned in the text.
K.L. Bridle, J.B. Kirkpatrick / Journal of Environmental Management 69 (2003) 299–306 301
nitrogen and phosphorus. Therefore, the surface 5 cm of the
soil below the litter layer was collected for chemical
analysis. The sample was bulked from five subsamples. The
nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus were determined in the
laboratory. Total phosphorus (P) was determined using a
nitric/perchloric digest and I.C.P. analysis, while % nitrogen
(N) was determined by methods outlined in (Rayment and
Higginson, 1992), semi-micro Kjeldahl with steam distilla-
tion (7A1). Particle size analysis was undertaken on the soil
samples (McDonald et al., 1984). Soil depth was determined
by probing each of 10 soil sample locations along a transect
between the 2 treatment transects.
2.3. Sampling and experimental design
At each site two parallel transects, each approximately
20 m in length were laid out along the contour. Within
each transect 20 quadrats (50 £50 cm) were located in
areas that would be attractive as a toilet spot for
bushwalkers, that is, the area was free from prickly
shrubs, and the soil depth was a minimum of 15 cm.
Quadrats were marked by steel roof spikes in each corner
and the distance along the transect, and distance and
direction of offset from the transect line was recorded.
Quadrats were located at least 50 cm from each other in
all directions to avoid overlap.
Quadrats were randomly allocated to four treatments: (1)
control; (2) 250 ml of artificial urine, formulated according
to the recipe of Gotaas (1956), added to the centre of the
quadrat at each visit; (3) 10 cm diameter hole dug in centre
of the quadrat to 15 cm depth and refilled; (4) hole dug and
filled as previously and 250 ml of artificial urine added at
each visit. Visits took place at 0, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months.
2.3.1. Data collection
The first data collection took place in summer to autumn
2000. Data collection was repeated at approximately the
same time in the year for each site in 2001 and 2002. The
first data collection occurred before the excavation of holes
and the pouring of artificial urine. The periodic removal and
replacement of bags containing toilet paper, tissues and
tampons for a related study led to redisturbance of
Table 2
Percentage covers by time and treatment for the herbs Leptorhynchos
squamatus and Senecio lautus at the eastern alpine site
Leptorhynchos Control Urine Dig Dig and urine
2000 3.1 3.0 1.5 1.5
2001 3.7 4.9 1.8 2.6
2002 5.4 12.6 3.3 3.5
2000 0.28 0.97 1.77 0.83
2001 0.39 3.20 0.96 2.00
2002 0.66 6.80 1.66 4.60
Table 3
Significant cover changes through time at each site (ANOVA)
Site and element 2000 2001 2002 FP
Western Alpine
Lichen 5.62 4.15 3.04 5.19 0.007
Litter 4.85 7.40 9.55 8.11 0.001
Montane Moorland
Epacris lanuginosa 3.28 5.31 5.75 3.60 0.031
Dillwynia glaberrima 0.00 0.34 0.61 5.07 0.008
Boronia parviflora 0.06 0.30 0.09 3.45 0.035
Bare 0.35 1.32 0.55 5.51 0.005
Eastern Alpine
Oreomyrrhis ciliata 0.26 0.26 0.66 4.34 0.015
Leptorhynchos squamatus 2.25 3.24 6.36 8.84 0.000
Senecio lautus 0.98 1.66 3.52 10.08 0.000
Asperula gunnii 0.07 0.18 0.52 6.20 0.003
Luzula spp. 0.55 0.71 1.73 13.9 0.000
Agrostis spp. 0.00 0.43 0.67 6.88 0.002
Aira spp. 0.15 0.38 1.20 3.93 0.022
Exotic grass 0.15 0.38 1.48 4.75 0.011
Lowland Rainforest
Bryophyta cover 69.5 65.6 57.8 3.26 0.042
Lichen 0.81 0.15 0.25 6.29 0.003
Fungi 0.04 0.58 0.26 8.87 0.000
Litter 22.55 25.83 34.45 6.63 0.002
Subalpine Rainforest
Lichen 1.04 1.48 1.06 5.01 0.008
Seedlings 0.27 0.37 1.07 6.42 0.002
Montane Eucalypt Forest
Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides 1.50 1.51 4.35 6.51 0.002
Poa hiemata 1.05 1.62 4.58 14.04 0.000
Heathy Eucalypt Forest
Epacris impressa 0.32 0.55 2.07 9.69 0.000
Leucopogon collinus 0.68 2.61 14.87 46.52 0.000
Styphelia adscendens 0.01 0.05 0.13 3.93 0.023
Aotus ericoides 1.24 2.26 6.19 11.00 0.000
Bossiaea cinerea 5.90 7.46 10.15 4.24 0.017
Baeckea ramosissima 0.47 0.86 2.10 4.09 0.019
Stylidium graminifolium 0.05 0.12 0.23 4.11 0.019
Hypolaena fastigiata 6.40 1.47 1.90 7.29 0.000
Pteridium esculentum 1.30 4.75 13.85 10.97 0.000
Bryophyta 0.00 8.08 7.90 6.88 0.002
Bare 53.05 22.79 8.25 87.74 0.000
Litter 22.27 55.25 28.12 4.82 0.010
MDS cover 1 20.43 20.01 0.46 70.90 0.000
MDS height 1 20.17 20.04 0.21 11.02 0.000
MDS height 2 0.16 0.05 20.22 13.72 0.000
MDS height 3 20.13 20.06 0.19 11.11 0.000
Grassy Eucalypt Forest
Astroloma humifusum 0.20 0.66 0.93 6.17 0.003
Epacris impressa 0.00 0.04 0.49 9.02 0.000
Gonocarpus tetragynus 1.11 4.06 5.09 8.63 0.000
Carex breviculmis 2.43 2.62 4.62 8.84 0.000
Schoenus apogon 5.25 4.85 8.95 8.28 0.000
Bryophyta 0.02 1.85 0.00 20.47 0.000
Bare 0.10 0.75 0.00 3.17 0.046
MDS height 1 20.08 20.04 0.12 4.99 0.008
MDS height 2 20.17 20.05 0.22 22.11 0.000
MDS height 3 0.09 0.05 20.13 7.00 0.001
(continued on next page)
K.L. Bridle, J.B. Kirkpatrick / Journal of Environmental Management 69 (2003) 299–306302
a proportion of the dug quadrats between 2000 and 2001 and
2001 and 2002.
The outline covers of all discernible vascular plant taxa,
cryptogam groups, bare soil, litter and rock were measured
using a gridded quadrat frame. Bare soil, litter and rock
were not counted if beneath vegetation cover. Overlapping
cover was used for plant taxa. The maximum height of each
taxon was also measured. Vegetation taller than 2 m was not
included for either cover or height.
2.3.2. Data analysis
All analyses were undertaken for each of the sites.
Global non-metric multidimensional scaling, following
the default options in DECODA (Minchin, 1990) was
used to ordinate the taxon cover data and the taxon
height data. The ordination scores provide a measure of
overall similarity. Generalized linear modelling was used
to test for significant interactions between time and
treatment. Only the most abundant taxa, the ordination
scores and the cover of bare ground, litter and rock could
be analysed in this manner. One way analysis of variance
(ANOVA) was used to test for significant changes in
values for variables over time. ANOVA was also used to
test for significant treatment effects on the difference in
cover between 2000 and 2002. In this case, the data for
each individual analysis were reduced to those quadrats
with a cover value in either or both of 2000 and 2002. In
Table 3 (continued)
Site and element 2000 2001 2002 FP
Coastal Eucalypt Forest
Carpobrotus rossii 1.0 2.3 7.2 5.32 0.006
Lepidosperma concavum 6.3 6.6 11.0 5.13 0.007
Pteridum esculentum 1.9 0.4 11.8 20.12 0.000
Bare 0.0 1.8 0.6 4.68 0.011
Litter 84 81 59 39.97 0.000
Seedlings 0.1 0.5 0.0 4.87 0.031
MDS cover 2 0.16 0.22 20.39 23.50 0.000
MDS height 2 20.05 0.16 20.10 4.87 0.010
MDS height 3 0.07 0.07 20.01 3.78 0.026
Table 4
Significant effects of treatment on changes in vegetation cover by site from 20002002
Site and element Control Urine Dig Dig and urine FP
Western Alpine
Monotoca submutica 20.1a 0.7ab 20.3ab 2.2b 3.87 0.045
Bryophyta 1.0a 22.2b 20.6ab 22.6b 2.95 0.046
Eastern Alpine
Leptorhynchos squamatus 3.3a 9.2b 2.4a 2.6a 5.55 0.004
Senecio lautus 0.5a 6.3b 20.2a 5.3b 9.12 0.000
Asperula gunnii 0.6a 2.4b 0.0a 0.9ab 4.54 0.015
Luzula spp. 1.2ab 2.7a 0.7b 0.6b 3.96 0.017
Poa hiemata 0.2a 10.4b 20.3a 0.4a 4.53 0.014
Native grass 23.9a 4.4b 0.0ab 4.2b 3.09 0.041
MDS cover 2 0.03b 20.25a 0.05b 0.01b 5.62 0.003
Montane Moorland
Melaleuca squamea 21.2ab 20.1ab 21.9a 5.8b 3.11 0.038
Epacris lanuginosa 0.0a 8.1b 2.4a 2.0a 5.19 0.005
Eurychorda complanata 1.7a 12.0b 1.9a 11.5b 3.45 0.029
Bare 20.3a 20.4a 1.3b 0.2ab 3.89 0.017
Litter 2.4a 24.9b 3.4a 24.6b 3.64 0.022
MDS cover 2 0.00a 0.16b 0.04ab 0.12ab 2.97 0.045
Montane Eucalypt Forest
Native grass 20.1a 5.7b 20.7a 3.9ab 4.67 0.007
Grassy Eucalypt Forest
Native grass 211.7ab 4.5b 220.7a 22.1b 5.48 0.003
Litter 20.7a 213.2b 4.0a 27.5b 5.32 0.004
MDS cover 1 0.12ab 20.01a 0.28b 0.00a 3.56 0.024
MDS cover 2 0.02ab 0.16a 20.02b 0.11ab 3.33 0.030
Heathy Eucalypt Forest
Litter 24.2a 23.0b 10.4ab 28.2b 9.87 0.000
MDS cover 2 0.03a 20.42b 20.16ab 20.29ab 3.42 0.028
Coastal Eucalypt Forest
Lepidosperma concavum 1.0a 9.3b 3.5a 6.6ab 4.81 0.007
Note that there were no significant treatment effects at either of the rainforest sites.
K.L. Bridle, J.B. Kirkpatrick / Journal of Environmental Management 69 (2003) 299–306 303
all cases results are regarded as not significant if P.
3. Results
The only significant interactive effects between treatment
and time were for Leptorhynchos squamatus (F¼2:24;
P¼0:044) and Senecio lautus (F¼3:2;P¼0:006) at the
Eastern Alpine site (Table 2). The treatments that involved
urine additions resulted in accelerated increases in the cover
of both species.
Across all sites, 29 species significantly increased in
cover over time, while 2 species showed a significant
decrease in cover and 8 others showed no consistent
tendency (Table 3). The increasers were concentrated in the
eastern alpine (8), heathy eucalypt forest (9) and grassy
eucalypt forest (4) environments. The lowland rainforest
was the only site where increasers equalled decreasers (1 cf.
1). It was also the only site where increasers were
outnumbered by species with no consistent tendency (1 cf
2). The two cases of significant decreases were lichen in the
western alpine and bryophytes in the lowland rainforest
environments (Table 3).
The control treatment had significantly higher values
than one or more of the other treatments in 8 cases, and
significantly less in 10 cases (Table 4). The urine treatment
had significantly higher values than one or more of the other
treatments in 14 cases and significantly less in 7 cases
(Table 4). The dig treatment showed the reverse pattern with
3 and 14, respectively, while the dig and urine treatment had
8 in each class (Table 4). This differentiation by treatment is
significant (Chi-square ¼9.2, d.f. ¼3, P,0:01), with the
urine treatment having more positive outcomes than
expected and the dig treatment having more negative
outcomes than expected.
There were no significant treatment effects in either of
the rainforest sites. Both alpine sites showed some effects.
In the western alpine environment the shrub, Monotoca
submutica, was positively affected by the dig and urine
treatment whereas bryophytes were negatively affected by
the treatments involving urine. In the eastern alpine
environment 6 non-woody taxa were favoured by urine
additions, and the scores on the second axis of the cover
ordination were significantly different between the urine
treatment and the rest (Table 4).
At the montane moorland site, the dominant shrub,
Melaleuca squamea, was favoured by the combination of
digging and urine, the shrub, Epacris lanuginosa, was
favoured by urine without digging, and the restiad,
Eurychorda complanata, was favoured by both the urine
treatments (Table 4). Bare ground was significantly greater
in the digging treatment than in the urine or control
treatments, litter cover decreased in quadrats where urine
was added and the scores on the second axis of the cover
ordination differentiated between the urine treatment and
the rest (Table 4).
The eucalypt forest sites did not individually exhibit as
many significant treatment effects as the montane moorland
and eastern alpine sites. At the montane eucalypt site urine
additions promoted native grass cover (Table 4). In the
grassy eucalypt forest urine also promoted native grass
cover, while it decreased litter cover (Table 4). The cover
ordination scores also indicated a strong effect of urine
additions (Table 4). At the heathy eucalypt site urine also
decreased litter cover, and on cover ordination axis 2 the
scores were significantly different between the control and
the urine treatment (Table 4). At the coastal eucalypt forest
urine increased the cover of the rhizomatous sedge,
Lepidosperma concavum(Table 4).
4. Discussion
Relatively few taxa exhibited significant impacts from
digging, urine application or their combination. Significant
effects on the vegetation as a whole were only evident at the
eastern alpine, montane moorland, grassy eucalypt and
heathy eucalypt sites, which between them accounted for 17
of the 21 significant treatment effects. It is tempting to
attribute this pattern to the successional status of the
vegetation at these four sites, in comparison to the rest. The
eastern alpine site is in process of recovery from a regime of
burning and grazing by sheep, the latter of which only
ceased in the early 1990s (Bridle et al., 2001). The montane
moorland, grassy eucalypt forest and heathy eucalypt forest
were all burned in the 1990s. In comparison, the rainforest
sites were last burned many centuries ago, the western
alpine site was likely to have been burned in the 1890s
(Marsden-Smedley, 1999) and both the montane eucalypt
forest and the coastal eucalypt forest exhibit no signs of
burning in the last few decades. However, there is no
relationship between the number of significant changes
through time and the number of significant treatment effects
on changes in values between 2000 and 2002, indicating that
vegetation dynamism was not related to treatment impact.
The generally positive effect of urine additions on the
cover of taxa is consistent with the roles of P and N in plant
growth. It is notable that the only taxon to respond
negatively to urine additions was the Bryophyta at the
western alpine site. The addition of nutrients to native
vegetation has been long recognized to have negative
outcomes in terms of exotic invasion and reduction of native
species richness (e.g. Specht, 1963; Connor and Wilson,
1968). However, our experiment does not indicate any effect
of urine addition on exotic invasion at the sites where
exotics occurred, and the local impact of urine addition in
the quadrats in which it occurred would mitigate against
reductions in species richness. Digging had a predominantly
depressive effect on native plant taxa that is revealed both
K.L. Bridle, J.B. Kirkpatrick / Journal of Environmental Management 69 (2003) 299–306304
directly through the effects of urine without digging, and in
the depressive effect of digging on the positive effects of
urine addition (Table 4). The only positive effect of digging
on a plant taxon was for Melaleuca squamea, and then only
when combined with urine addition. Previous work in
lowland Tasmania has indicated that physical disturbance,
in the absence of nutrient additions, favours rare or
threatened species and increases species richness (Pyrke,
1994; Kirkpatrick and Gilfedder, 1995, 1998; Gilfedder and
Kirkpatrick, 1998). These tendencies have not been
manifest in the present study.
5. Conclusions
We conclude that scattered disposal of urine, even
combined with digging, is unlikely to present a major
conservation problem in Tasmanian bush. The rings of
exotics around hut doors represent an extreme situation with
frequent, sustained urination. Therefore, there is no need for
amendment of the minimum impact guidelines as a result of
impacts of nutrient additions or mechanical disturbance by
We would like to thank the CRC for Sustainable Tourism
for funding this project. Thanks to the many field assistants
and technical officers with special mention to Denis
Charlesworth, Margaret Gill, Paul Smart, Mona Loofs,
Nick Fitzgerald, Micah Visiou and Bonnie Wintle. The
Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, the Forestry
Commission, the University of Tasmania and Jennie
Whinam of the Nature Conservation Branch, Department
of Primary Industry, Water and Environment, facilitated
access to the study sites.
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... Trampling of the fragile field mark vegetation along the highest mountain ridges in Australia resulted in a decline in native species richness on the track compared to adjacent vegetation, as well as a decline in the abundance of species (McDougall and Wright 2004). The impacts of digging 'cat-holes' was experimentally tested across a range of vegetation types in Tasmania and digging resulted in lower overlapping cover values for a wide range of plant species in most communities sampled (Bridle and Kirkpatrick 2003). ...
... This can create feedbacks for continuing change and also benefit weed species, leading to changes in vegetation communities. However, research in Tasmania found a beneficial effect of low levels of nutrient addition (artificialurine) on vegetation, with increased growth of many taxa and the only obvious negative effect was a reduction in cover of moss at one site (Bridle and Kirkpatrick 2003). ...
Zarghi A, Hosseini SM. 2014. Effect of ecotourism on plant biodiversity in Chelmir zone of Tandoureh National Park, Khorasan Razavi Province, Iran. Biodiversitas 15: 224-228. Tourism in protected areas is generally viewed as a primary source of promoting economic and social growth to local communities and commonly perceived to safeguard biodiversity. However, in the last few decades an increasing number of visitors along with more diverse activities are having greater impacts on nature. Hence due to importance of ecotourism in Iran, the effect of ecotourism on plant biodiversity in Chelmir zone was investigated. To acquire the aim of the article, the sampling area was selected under the condition that the ecotourism is solely the variable factor and the slope, direction and height are considered constant factor after evaluation of the ecological land unit drawings. Two zones of high pressured and low pressured ecotourism were considered after evaluation of related drawings. Samples were taken in spring 2010. For evaluation of the plant biodiversity 60 samples of 1m 2 (30 samples in each zone) were taken randomly and then the list of flora and the cover percentage of vegetation were recorded and then the percentage of vegetation data were analyzed in Biopast software and the biodiversity (Shanon, Simpson) richness (Menhinick, Margalef) evenness (Dominance, Berger-Parker) and dominance (Evenness, Equitability) indices were calculated. The mentioned indices were inserted in SPSS II software and the data normality was tested through Kolomogrov-Smirnov test. Due to data normality, non-paired T test was used in order to compare diversity analysis. The results indicate that the diversity, richness, dominance and evenness indices show significant effects of ecotourism on biodiversity indices.
... A very few groundcover plants were found only in the lakeside areas where people cannot walk and in parts with less closure. Similar to the studies of Kuss (1986), Cole (1992), Bridle and Kirkpatrick (2003), Nepal (2003), and Uzun (2012), in this study, damage to tree roots was found to result from hiking, picnicking, burning in campfires, cycling, etc. because they are located in the areas with the highest user intensity (daily and camping areas). It was observed that tree roots in these areas were exposed to more pressure as an effect of the recreational use. ...
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The purpose of this study was to determine possible damage created by recreational activities in Yedigöller (Seven Lakes) National Park and to recommend recreational impact management decisions in order to ensure its sustainable use. Four picnic and camping areas and one control area in the National Park were selected as sampling areas. In order to determine the ecological effects of recreational activities and the pressures on the plant life and the soil, an observation form was used. The study also addressed the stress on the Fagus orientalis trees in all recreation areas near Nazlı Lake, Büyük Lake, and Derin Lake. Findings from the soil analysis indicated that in general, intense human activities in the area had negatively affected both the physical and chemical properties of the soil. As a result of the evaluation of the observation forms, all of the sampling areas in the park were determined to be in poor condition.
... Extensive soil compaction may significantly reduce a site's capability for timber productivity through degraded reforestation potential, rate of tree growth, and stand health in the long-term. Direct damages to the roots of trees occurred due to activities in digging holes for cooking and disposing of human or other waste (compare Newsome et al., 2002b;Phillips and Newsome, 2002;Smith and Newsome, 2002;Bridle and Kirkpatrick, 2003). ...
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Sal (Shorea robusta C.F. Gaertn) is a dipterocarpus tree species in Central Asia native to the southern slopes of Himalaya, and gregariously distributed in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and southern China. These tropical moist deciduous forests of Bangladesh are locally known as Sal or Gajari forests which cover 32% of the forested land. The uncontrolled growths of the population in Bangladesh lead to massive deforestation, a degradation of forests, wildlife and biodiversity. Both the Madhupur and Bhawal National Park occupy most of Sal forests of Bangladesh. They have a high socio-economical and ecological importance for the central part of Bangladesh but they are mostly unexplored and research is not well documented. Few studies on floral diversity (incomplete list of plants) can be found, but no systematic studies on the role of anthropogenic disturbances, their impact on plant diversity, structure and spatial diversity have been done so far. The aim of this research was to measure the biodiversity, the level of human disturbances, the effect of human disturbances on the plant diversity, and to find out the spatial characteristics of Sal. The study area in the Madhupur National Park was classified according to different levels of disturbances and protection. The core area of the Bhawal National Park was analysed on the basis of a changing intensity of recreational activities. Mature trees, seedlings, saplings, climbers and herbs were measured on 300 plots; beside descriptive statistics, biodiversity indices and neighbour-based variables were calculated to assess the spatial characteristics of the Sal forests. In total 134 plant species were identified in the Madhupur National Park, out of them 129 species were found in the core zone. A total of 43 plant species were enumerated in the core area of the Bhawal National Park. The diversity index and evenness decreased, and the concentration of dominance increased with rising disturbances. In most cases, the plant density and basal area of the mature trees showed a declining trend with the increase of disturbances. Sal grows comparatively faster than other associate species and tended to be more dominant over its natural associates from the low disturbed to the highly disturbed forests. The general dispersion of Sal is correlated to species mixture and its density. The core zone of the Bhawal National Park is a pure Sal forest where mostly mixed forests occur in the Madhupur National Park. The density of shrubs and climbers increased with the decreasing V level of human disturbances. No coarse woody debris was found in the Bhawal National Park, whereas very few snags (2.2ha-1) were found in the Madhupur National Park. The diameter and height class distributions indicate a mixture of very young to giant trees in the Madhupur National Park compared to the less diverse forests in the Bhawal National Park. In the highly disturbed and low protected forests of the buffer and peripheral zone the natural regeneration is in general endangered due to the cultivation of agricultural crops and introduction of exotic tree species. Additionally the picnic activities hamper the tree vitality substantially. Finally recommendations for further research activities about forest dynamics, the rate of deforestation and loss of biodiversity as well as measures for conservation management are given. Key words: Diversity index, neighbour-based variables, evenness, spatial structure, coarse woody debris, deciduous forests, dominance, deforestation, exotic species
... Thompson and Schlacher (2008) indicate that beach camping takes place on 23 per cent (28.7 km) of the Island's ocean foredunes . Carter et al (2015) indicate that widespread acknowledgement of potential environmental impact from human waste in natural areas, has not driven investment in research to inform management and solutions to these issues (Cilimburg et al. 2000;Bridle & Kirkpatrick 2003;Carter et al 2015). Nevertheless, in 2009 in response to a camping review (QPWS 2004), QPWS initiated a requirement for campers to provide their own portable toilets and restricted beach camping to defined zones . ...
Technical Report
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K’gari-Fraser Island is recognised internationally as significant through World Heritage Listing. The values that define this iconic status and the dynamic ecosystems processes will be impacted both by climate change and changing social values with potentially far-reaching consequences. The unique characteristics that define this Island landscape as iconic enable conservation of physical environments, emblematic fauna such as whales and dingoes and natural systems. These World Heritage landscapes also provide unique opportunities for people to engage with nature. This review identifies the broad range of values that have resulted in iconic status of the Island and World Heritage listing of the property. The impacts of global environmental change resulting from climate change, and the impacts of management history on the unique environmental characteristics identify the environmental values of the Island. Future investment in maintaining these environmental values is outlined.
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For nearly a century, researchers have observed the ecological impacts arising from increased numbers of visitors using natural areas for tourism and recreational activities. This study reviews the recreational ecology literature as it is relevant to Sri Lanka providing a rare linkage between global research and local applications of this research. The likely ecological impacts of recreational activities undertaken in natural areas in Sri Lanka are identified with a particular focus on walking/hiking, camping, wildlife watching and motorized activities. We conclude by establishing a research agenda that is relevant for developing countries from the Global South and South Asia that aspire to develop their nature-based tourism industry in a sustainable manner. A particular focus should be on fundamental visitor data collection and relating such data to environmental impacts of specific recreation activities, the establishment of research networks, experimental cause-effect studies, and interdisciplinary studies. We embed this research agenda in a novel conceptual model of the factors and relationships relevant for managing impacts of nature-based tourism as a theoretical contribution to the field of recreational ecology.
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In protected areas (PAs), the lack of tourism impact prediction models on vegetation has not been accurately predicted that is a shortcoming in PA management. Now the main question is how recovery can be accelerated; or which ecological factors are associated with the rehabilitation of vegetation density? We aimed to compare the Multi‐Layer Perceptron (MLP), Radial Basis Function Neural Network (RBFNN) and Support Vector Machine (SVM) models to predict tourism impact on land vegetation density changes. Three old national parks of Iran with diversity in tourist pressure and ecological condition of the site were selected for analyzing. We recorded 12 ecological and tourist variables in 400 sample plots which are classified in topography, plot soil, and tourist pressure factors. We developed the tourism impact assessment model (TIAM) by MLP, RBFNN, and SVM techniques. Comparing to RBFNN and SVM, the MLP model (TIAMMLP) is introduced as the most accurate model in vegetation density changes for tourism impact assessment in PAs. The MLP model represents the highest value of R2 in training (0.969), test (0.806) and all datasets (0.876). Sensitivity analysis proved that the values of the tourist pressure, soil organic matters, soil moisture, soil porosity, and soil EC are respectively as the most significant inputs which influence TIAMMLP in PAs. We concluded that habitats with higher organic matter and moisture in the soil would likely tolerate more tourists’ pressure. The MLP model, as a tool for, PAs managers, is able to predict vegetation density changes under tourism pressure precisely. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
East Africa is an umbrella term that covers an incredible array of different countries, landscapes, cultures and ecosystems. Adventure tourism activities range from a hot-air balloon safari over the Serengeti to an expedition to climb Mount Kenya or Kilimanjaro. Key adventure tourism attractions described in this chapter include Maasai Mara National Reserve; Volcanoes National Park; Zanzibar; Ngorongoro Conservation Area; Mount Kilimanjaro; Lake Nakuru; Serengeti; Murchison Falls; Rwenzori Mountains; Jinja, Uganda; Mount Kenya; and Victoria Falls.
This chapter first defines camping and presents a camping spectrum which ranges from survival camping to trailer tents, caravans, and motorhomes. It then discusses snow caves, quinzhees and igloos, and finally bothies before examining participation numbers. The final part of the chapter focuses on specific environmental impacts: damage to soil and vegetation, impacts on water, and the impacts on wildlife. The final section considers the management of these activities such as trail design and the development of hardened campsites as in the Overland Track in Tasmania. There is discussion on some attempts to manage the impact of human faeces on water resources, with examples from the Cairngorms, UK. Finally, examples of how the impact of camping on wildlife has been managed are presented.
In Australia and overseas, park managers have long expressed concern about human waste management, especially along popular overnight walking tracks. Within Australia, states have implemented Minimal Impact Bushwalking guidelines (MIB) for day and overnight park users. In Tasmania, these guidelines advise walkers to bury their toilet waste in a hole approximately 15 cm deep and 100 m away from campsites or water sources. Data presented in this paper show that these guidelines are not being followed. A number of deposits of poorly buried human waste were found within 50 m of a popular hut in one national park. The impact of nutrient additions from human urine and faeces on soils and vegetation was limited to within a few metres of the hut. Human faecal contamination was detected in small pools near the hut. Management options for influencing the behaviour of overnight walkers are discussed within the framework of a 'limits to acceptable change' model.
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We studied the impacts of camping on soil and vegetation at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We assessed the magnitude of impact on campsites that varied in amount of use and in topographic position. We also evaluated change over a 5-yr period on long-established, recently opened, and recently closed campsites, as well as on plots subjected to experimental trampling. Campsite impacts were intense and spatially variable. Amount of use and topographic position explained some of this variation. Soil and vegetation conditions changed rapidly when campsites were initially opened to use and when they were closed to use. Changes were less pronounced on the long-established campsites that remained open to use. In the trampling experiments, impact varied greatly with trampling intensity and between vegetation types. An open-canopy grassland vegetation type was much more resistant to trampling than a forb-dominated forest vegetation type. Campsite impacts increased rapidly with initial disturbance, stabilized with ongoing disturbance, and-in contrast to what has been found in most other studies-decreased rapidly once disturbance was terminated. Implications of these results for campsite management strategies, such as use concentration or dispersal, and rotation or closure of campsites, are discussed.
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Abstract—This paper ,reviews ,the body ,of literature ,on recreation resource impacts and their management in the United States, with aprimary,focus on research ,within designated ,wildernesses ,during the past 15 years since the previous review (Cole 1987b). Recreation impacts have become a salient issue among wilderness scientists, managers and advocates alike. Studies of recreation impacts, re- ferred to as recreation ecology, have expanded and diversified. Research,has shifted its focus ,more ,towards ,questions ,driven ,by wilderness,and ,park ,planning ,frameworks ,such ,the Limits of Acceptable,Change ,and ,the Visitor Experience ,and Resource ,Pro- tection. This paper ,begins by providing ,an overview ,of recreation impacts and their significance in wilderness, followed by a review of research,approaches ,and ,methods. ,Major ,findings ,from ,recent studies are summarized. ,The contribution of this ,knowledge ,base to management,decisionmaking ,and practices is examined. ,The paper concludes,with a discussion ,of major ,knowledge ,gaps and suggested areas for future research. The passage ,of the ,Wilderness ,Act in 1964 and ,the cre-
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Data on floristics, structure and environment were collected from quadrats throughout the geographic range of alpine vegetation in Australia. These data were used to explore the floristic and environmental relationships of ten alpine vegetation formations: bolster heath, coniferous heath, heath, alpine sedgeland, fjaeldmark, tall alpine herbfield, short alpine herbfield, grassland, bog and fen. Alpine sedgeland and coniferous heath, and tall alpine herbfield and grassland, proved to be closely similar in their floristics. Grassland and coniferous heath were most separated in ordination space. The environmental variables with the largest numbers of significant differences between formations were extractable phosphorus, summer temperatures, winter temperatures and topography. However, many other edaphic, climatic, topographic and biotic variables were important in discriminating between formations. The results of the formation-environment analyses were largely consistent with the relationships suggested in the previous literature. However, some environmental differences between formations that were observed or posited from local studies did not prove to be exportable to the alpine zone as a whole. Edaphic and topographic variables appear to be more important in discriminating the environments of alpine formations than the environments of alpine floristic communities.
Long-term data from six sites in treeless subalpine and alpine vegetation in central Tasmania are used to document change in vegetation cover and life form dominance over time. All sites have been disturbed by burning and domestic stock grazing in the past. Although burning ceased at least 8 yr before initial measurements were taken, stock grazing still occurs at one site, and rabbits and native vertebrate herbivores (mainly wallabies) graze throughout the region. Vegetation cover increased across all sites over a 5- to 23-yr period at an average annual increment of approximately 1%. There was no significant relationship between the initial cover of bare ground and change in bare ground over time for most of the sites. Annual increases in vegetation cover were least in locations grazed by rabbits and native vertebrate herbivores and where domestic stock still grazed. Exclosures grazed only by rabbits had an intermediate rate of increase. Vegetation cover was found to increase most in ungrazed exclosures. The rates of increase in vegetation cover suggest that, in the absence of fire, it is a matter of decades before cover will be almost complete in the area.
The results of contemporary research suggest that vegetation varies continuously with environment, except where dominants create new habitats. However, phytosociological and distributional data from the treeless parts of mountains in the south-west of Tasmania indicate the existence of a sharp vegetation boundary at 700-900 m above sea level, despite an apparent climatic, geologic, edaphic and topographic continuity of environment. This boundary cannot be attributed to the interactions between species, because it occurs within sparsely vegetated gravel as well as within continuous vegetation cover on peat. The boundary might have originated as a result of the local extinction of lowland species during the climatic vicissitudes of the Quaternary. However, there is a possibility that the boundary correlates with a persistent cloud ceiling, and more climatic data are needed from the region before historical explanations become necessary.
There have been major changes in the fire regime of southwestern Tasmania over the past 170 years. The fire regime has changed from an Aboriginal fire regime of frequent low-intensity fires in buttongrass moorland (mostly in spring and autumn) with only the occasional high-intensity forest fire, to the early European fire regime of frequent high-intensity fires in all vegetation types, to a regime of low to medium intensity buttongrass moorland fires and finally to the current regime of few fires. These changes in the fire regime resulted in major impacts to the region's fire-sensitive vegetation types during the early European period, while the current low fire frequency across much of southwestern Tasmania has resulted in a large proportion of the region's fire-adapted buttongrass moorland being classified as old-growth. These extensive areas of old-growth buttongrass moorland mean that the potential for another large-scale ecologically damaging wildfire is high and, to avoid this, it would be better to re-introduce a regime oflow-intensity fires into the region. Mter much fatigue in getting through, we suddenly, on reaching the top of the hill, opened into ground recently burnt, with a most beautiful valley extending SW, beneath us. The whole of this ground had been burnt, apparently immediately before the late snow, and I conclude, by the natives. The valley had the appearance, at a distance, of undergoing all the processes of agriculture, -some parts looking like freshly ploughed fields; and again, other parts possessing the most beautiful verdure from the sprouting of the young grasses and rushes.
The impact of trampling on the alpine bolster heath communities of Newdegate Pass and the Mt Field West plateau (1300-1400 m) were investigated. It was found that in the track vegetation, percentage bare ground was significantly higher, and percentage cover of some taxa and species diversity were significantly lower than in the surrounding undisturbed vegetation. Degradation was measurably worse on sections of the track subject to water-logging. Implications of these findings for recreational management are discussed.
Regular altitudinal sampling of the vascular plant species composition of treeless vegetation on Mount Sprent, Tasmania revealed gradual change between 510 and 820 m, and between 930 and 1050 m, but steep change between 830 and 920 m. The zone of sharp change was the boundary between lowland sedgeland dominated by Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus and alpine vegetation. Edaphic and topographic conditions varied relatively little along the transect. Two years of temperature and precipitation data were obtained from sites on either side of the boundary, a site near the summit and a site near the lower limit of the sedgeland. These data indicate that the phytosociological zone of change is coincident with a sharp change in mean temperature conditions between the two central sites. Variation in precipitation appears largely unrelated to phytosociological conditions at this scale. This climatic break appears to be consistent in its characteristics with a frequent subsidence inversion layer, and could explain the similar sharp boundaries found elsewhere on Tasmanian mountains. The phenomenon may be widespread in maritime mountains.
Approximately 8,000 walkers used the Cradle Mountain‐Lake St Clair National Park in 1979/80. They and their predecessors had created a maze of tracks, 29 per cent of which were in a poor condition. Badly damaged tracks are concentrated at high altitude, and in ill‐drained areas, mostly where usage exceeds 1,500 people per year. Alpine vegetation recovers from trampling damage at a much slower rate than the treeless vegetation at lower altitude. Track damage and track usage data are stratified by environmental types, and regression analysis is used to identify the level of usage in each environment that is associated with unacceptable damage to the vegetation and soils of the park. Relative effort of passage is more important in understanding trampling impact than the resistance and resilience of plant species.
A complete fertilizer was applied to a native heath community in the coastal lowlands of south-eastern Queensland. Changes in species composition, and the structure of the community 14 years later are reported. The application of fertilizer allowed the establishment of non-endemic plants, notably Imperata cylindrica and Baccharis halimifolia, at the expense of many of the original components. It also allowed Angophora woodslana, which originally existed as a fire-maintained coppice, to develop into a low tree layer, thereby completely changing the structure of the community. Details of changes in species composition and density are recorded.