Phillip Island has become a popular touristic destination due to the significant biodiversity of the area. Ironically, tourism is having a negative impact on the island’s biota. The island’s landscape is changing due to human activities and it can sometimes pose significant threats to biodiversity. The island is especially popular due to the large population of little penguins (Eudyptula minor) and koalas. However, these species are also in danger. It is possible to trace the implications of the landscape change as regards populations of penguins and koalas.
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As has been mentioned above, Phillip Island is a very popular touristic destination. The result of this popularity is a significant change of the landscape as new roads, new facilities (hotels, restaurants, residential areas and so on) have appeared (Martin & Handasyde 1999). Admittedly, this negatively affected development of the biodiversity as it was associated with deforestation. Ecosystems of vast areas were damaged and many species had to migrate to other areas (or even become extinct). For instance, koalas did not have enough food and living space, and their population decreased significantly. More so, a lot of their food trees were by the roads and this increased mortality of koalas as they were killed in road accidents (Martin & Handasyde 1999). Ironically, tourists who came to see koalas were the major reason of death of these animals.
The problem of the decrease of koalas’ population was solved with the help of a program of sustainable land use. Thus, a specific reservation park was established and koalas were safe there. More so, some animals from the park are often released into the wild, which also contributes to the increase of population of these animals.
As for the population of penguins, it is one of the largest in Australia. Little penguins prefer Phillip Island due to a limited number of predators and abundance of food (Giling, Reina and Hogg 2008). Giling, Reina and Hogg (2008) also note that anthropogenic structures (like the breakwater) have attracted these animals due to increased safety (no predators and still abundance of food). At the same time, these structures are also associated with numerous hazards for penguins. Numerous lights and significant noise produced in the area negatively affects reproduction of penguins. Apart from that, people often walk out their dogs in the area and many penguins are killed or injured by dogs. People’s activities such as climbing, fishing and swimming also contribute to mortality and a significant degree of injury among penguins. Thus, many penguins die in fishing nets or they can be injured by boats. Therefore, it is clear that the existing infrastructure, use of land and people’s behaviour can lead to improper development of penguins’ population in the area.
It is important to launch some programs similar to the ones utilised to safe koalas’ population. Thus, it is necessary to impose certain restrictions and ensure that penguins have safe areas where people will not reach them. Apart from leaving some areas with anthropogenic structures for penguins, it is also possible to ensure availability of intact habitat as some coastal areas should be left as well.
Hudson and Lee (2010) stress that development of tourism is very important as this sector of economy brings significant funds (millions of dollars). However, it is important to develop this industry in a more sustainable way. The land use should be sustainable and it is essential to make sure that facilities for people occupy limited areas and the rest of the land is used as parks and intact habitats. The parks should be similar to the habitats of species to make sure that biodiversity of the area will remain intact.
It is also important to educate people and promote sustainable tourism (Hudson & Lee 2010). Thus, tourists should become more responsible and the tourism should be more sustainable. People should understand that they can enjoy the intact wildlife if they leave as few traces as possible. These trace include a variety of things (roads, hotels, and so on; garbage, damaged species and so on). Phillip Island can also become a platform for development of sustainable tourism strategies that can be later transferred to other areas of Australia. Clearly, the continent has exceptional biodiversity that attracts many tourists, but unsustainable land use often leads to decrease of populations of many species. Therefore, sustainable approaches should be used to maintain biodiversity of the entire continent.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that Phillip Island is a popular touristic destination as people want to see koalas and little penguins in their natural or urban settings. The development of these animal’s populations can be seen as an example of hazards humans’ activities pose as well as opportunities that exist. Hence, people can use the land in a more sustainable way and they have to make sure that there are areas of intact habitats as well as reservation parks or restricted areas. The infrastructure to support tourism should be sustainable as it is clear that various facilities often contribute to decrease of population of many species.
Giling, D, Reina, RD & Hogg, Z 2008, ‘Anthropogenic influence on an urban colony of the little penguin Eudyptula minor’, Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 59, pp. 647-651.
Hudson, K & Lee, D 2010, ‘Biodiversity and tourism: a valuable relationship‘, Social Alternatives, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 39-43.
Martin, RW & Handasyde, KA 1999, The koala: natural history, conservation and management, UNSW Press, Sydney.