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Canadian wetlands

This research aims to bring together a number of previously disconnected strands about the role of wetlands in Canadian culture, history and ecology. To date, most research and publications regarding this topic have fallen into three broad categories:

  • general governmental policy documents about their conservation with site descriptions;
  • overall scientific documentation of their biotic features and conservation values, and
  • site-specific studies or place-based writing focussing on individual wetlands, or the wetlands of one region, coming out of one approach or discipline.

The approach to this research is transdisciplinary across history, geography, literature and culture. This is appropriate given the nature of wetlands. The methodology is a cultural and historical exploration of the representation of Canadian wetlands in various media, genres and disciplines, including literature, history and geography. It aims to promote the conservation of Canadian wetlands by showcasing their values as places of new life and historically as sites of sustainable agriculture.

The research will create a dialogue between Australian and Canadian researchers about the history and contemporary cultural values of wetlands in their respective countries as well as their differences and similarities.

Canadianists have largely been fixated on mountains, lakes and prairies as the national landscapes. Canadian wetlands have largely been neglected, yet Canada possesses 26 percent of the world’s wetlands, many of which have international conservation status, such as Ramsar Convention Wetlands of International Importance.

This research will result in a book on Canadian wetlands, which will enhance the understanding of wetlands in both Australia and Canada. The proposed book will complement the following books about wetlands:

  • Western Australian wetlands: The Kimberley and South-West (with Hugh Webb) (Black Swan Press, 1996) the only book to document the conservation values of all the Ramsar Convention wetlands in the state and to discuss their indigenous, historical and ecological significance;
  • Postmodern wetlands: Culture History Ecology (Edinburgh University Press, 1996) focuses on British, American and Australian wetlands, and on themes and issues across all three such as aesthetics, medical history, military history, social history, psychology, etc.;
  • Forrestdale: People and Place (Access Press, 2006) a book of local, oral and natural history about Forrestdale Lake and its surrounds; and
  • Black Swan Lake (under consideration by Melbourne University Press) a book of nature writing about Forrestdale Lake and essays on themes and issues arising from it.


Associate Professor Rod Giblett

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