Far from Moderate - PhD thesis

An account and appraisal of some aspects of the human involvement with the natural environment of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia

by Stephen Palmer

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Portsmouth

This dissertation examines the main events in the human history of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia which have had an effect upon the natural environment.

The dissertation contains four case studies, i.e. Sealing, Whaling, Farming and Fishing. Much of the documentary material used in this dissertation has not been subjected to scrutiny before.

Each case study is examined in its own right; the story is outlined and conclusions are drawn. Common themes between the case studies are noted and comparisons are made.

Sheep farming has been the dominant human activity on the Falkland Islands from first settlement until very recently; the effects of the grazing of large numbers of herbivores on native grasses has been significant. Until recently there has been consistent failure to address the decline in the grasslands, and to adopt a more sustainable farming system.

Sealing was the first human activity associated with these Islands ; the various phases of the exploitation of this vast natural resource culminated in the near disappearance of some species and a considerable reduction in all other species.

Southern Ocean whaling began at the beginning of the 20th century; within 60 years whale stocks had been reduced by 90% and all attempts to ensure that whaling companies exercised restraint ultimately failed.

Fishing began in the late 1970s, and is now the foremost economic activity. The revenue accrued from the sale of fishing licences has enabled extensive social change to occur on the Islands . Considerable efforts to control the scale of the fishing effort have been made; the conservation of the stocks, through regulation and enforcement, has been a central concern.

Until very recently, with the exception of the fishing industry, the majority of conservation measures in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia have been largely ineffective. The dissertation considers why this has occurred.

The dissertation shows that the human effects on the natural environment of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia have been far from moderate. It evaluates the reasons for the degradation of the Islands natural environment, and it suggests that rather than giving prominence to one particular aspect as the prime cause of the degradation, in practice there are normally a number of factors involved. Most of the circumstances that are described in the four case studies are usually the product of a combination of a number of factors.

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  • Section 1
    • Declaration
    • Abstract
    • Acknowledgements
    • Contents
    • Abbreviations
    • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Section 2
    • Chapter 2. Discovery and human settlement
      • a. The Falkland Islands
      • b. South Georgi
  • Section 3
    • 3. Geography and climate
      • a. The Falkland Islands
      • b. South Georgia
  • Section 4
    • 4. 1842 Governor Richard Moody and Joseph Hooker
      • a. Richard Moody
      • b. Joseph Hooker
  • Section 5
    • 5. Grasslands and Sheep farming
      • a. Introduction
      • b. Grasslands and pasture
      • c. Grassland degradation
  • Section 6
    • 6. 1924 The Munro Report - an opportunity missed
  • Section 7
    • 7. 1935 The Davies Report - a Governor thwarted
  • Section 8
    • 8. 1942 Governor Sir Alan Cardinall ’s ‘Utopian dream'
  • Section 9
    • 9. 1939-1946 John Gibbs - Director of the Department of Agriculture
  • Section 10
    • 10. 1961-1971 Yet more reports - ‘Old ground, new ploughs’
      • a. The Wannop Report 1960-1961
      • b. The Guillebaud Report 1967
      • c. Grasslands Improvement Conferences 1966 & 1967
  • Section 11
    • 11. 1971 & 1972 A Sea Change in Government
      • a. Ministry of Overseas Development Team 1969-1971
      • b. T W D Theophilus 1972
  • Section 12
    • 12. 1976 & 1982 The Falkland Islands Economic Reports.
      • The Shackleton Reports
  • Section 13
    • 13. 1983 The Low Report - Tree planting in the Islands
  • Section 14
    • 14. 1987 The Tom Davies Report - Agricultural research and development in the Islands 1969-1986
  • Section 15
    • 15. The present agricultural scene
    • a. The difficulties of farming in the Islands
    • b. Sub-division
      • (i) Management methods
      • (ii) The failure to implement change in the past
    • c. Future challenges
      • (i) Sustainability from a human perspective
      • (ii) Sustainability from an environmental perspective
      • (iii) Sustainability from a developmental perspective
  • Section 16
      • 16. Sealing in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia
        • a. Introduction
        • b. Sealing in the Islands up to 1881
        • c. Sealing in the Islands 1881-1967
        • d. Sealing in South Georgia and other Dependencies up to 1904
        • e. Sealing in South Georgia and other Dependencies 1904 -1969
        • f. Concluding remarks
  • Section 17
    • 17. Whaling:
      • a. Introduction 189
      • b. The early history of the Southern Ocean whaling industry
      • c. The period from the beginning of shore based whaling until the commencement of pelagic whaling 1905-1925
      • d. The period from the commencement pelagic whaling until the cessation of whaling based at South Georgia 1925-1964
      • e. Concluding remarks.
  • Section 18
    • 18. Fishing: ‘Dear God, let the sea be filled with fish’
      • a. Introduction
      • b. Inshore and Freshwater fish and fishing
        • (i) Falkland Islands
        • (ii) South Georgia
      • c. Offshore fish and fishing in the Islands waters
      • d. Offshore fish and fishing in South Georgia waters
  • Section 19
    • 19. Factors that have contributed to the degradation of the natural environment of the Islands
      • a. Introduction
      • b. Factors which have contributed to the degradation of the natural environment of the Islands and South Georgia
      • c. Concluding remarks
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