The system of value is a powerful concept controlling the health and vulnerability of an ecosystem. This project will explore ‘value’ and its application to the marine environment, asking why do humans define the value of Earth’s natural systems? It will manifest the tensions between agriculture and the marine environment under the new regime of value. A system once flawed by human bias now reversed to favour Earth. We are no longer a ruling power, rather we are ruled by the Marine Domain. Value in Tension explores a world in which, the Fitzroy Region, an agricultural community, has transformed into a society driven by vulnerability of the marine environment.
The marine environment, a complex and delicately balanced ecosystem is under threat from human activities.
This decline of marine water quality is a global issue pressured by climate change. Value in Tension does not claim to “heal the Reef” and stop all the issues causing the degradation in water quality. Rather it will focus on the issue of sediment and land-based pollution in the local Fitzroy Region, proposing a new radical lens in which to view the current system of environmental valuation. This proposal will aim to support the health and well-being of The Great Barrier Reef.
The Fitzroy catchment contributes directly to the decline of marine water quality of the southern section of the Great Barrier Reef. The Fitzroy River carry’s five to ninefold higher nutrient and sediment loads from cleared, fertilized and urbanised catchments into the ocean. Grazing is the dominant land use for The Fitzroy Catchment. The Burdekin and Fitzroy catchments in particular contribute 75% of the total fine sediment load that flows into the GBR. Fine sediment smothers coral and seagrass. Flooding events can push plumes of sediment to reach the outer reefs.
Agriculture has long been central to the Australian identity and prosperity; the wellbeing of farmers is seen to be crucial to the wellbeing of all. It is considered integral to Queensland economy; it is the backbone and social fabric of many rural and regional communities. Paradoxically, agriculture has been the centre of destruction of the natural environment.
“Understanding how to approach cumulative impacts on such a complex and delicate socio-ecological ecosystem remains the most important challenges for management of the Reef”(CSIRO, 2020)
The Source of Sediment
Grazing and agriculture impacts water quality by altering vegetation in catchments, increasing erosion turbidity, reducing ground cover, disturbing soil, increasing sediment run-off and nutrient inputs. The long term impacts include decline in pasture and native grasses, leaving land less resilient to dry periods, vulnerable to the invasion of weed species and reduced diversity and health of riparian vegetation. The decline in pasture condition and ground cover has led to greater run-off and erosion, thus increasing sediment and nutrient loads into water systems.
In order to demonstrate the devastating effects of sediment on water quality and clarity, I created a model using water, a glass container and acrylic paint. Below depicts plumes of paint or in this case, sediment, entering the clear water and quickly ‘contaminating’ what was once clean drinkable water. From the model it can be seen that sediment rapidly expands in water, engulfing everything in its path. Plumes of sediment caused by agriculture smother and kill marine life, an important Earth asset.
It is for this reason that Value in Tension aims to reduce sediment discharge trough the radical lens of disruption in power. Under the reign of the Marine domain, sediment discharge into waterways will be reduced to 0% by 2025. The Marine Environment will recover and thrive under this new regime.
The system of value is a powerful concept controlling the health and vulnerability of an ecosystem. What determines the VALUE of Earth’s natural assets? This project will explore ‘value’ and its application to the marine environment, asking why do humans define the value of Earth’s natural systems?
We desire to control. To overpower and rule the Earth. The marine environment is a resource, there to provide economical wealth. We cage it, restrain it, pollute it and destroy it for our own benefit. This is our definition of a ‘valuable’ ecosystem. This definition is not sustainable.
Value in Tension will manifest the new regime of value under which Humans are no longer the highest power, we are now ruled by the Marine Domain. A system once flawed by human bias now reversed to favour Earth. Exploring a world in which, the Lower Fitzroy Catchment, an agricultural community, has transformed into a society driven by vulnerability of the marine environment.
The Marine Domain, a powerful entity and new ruler of Australia.
In order for sustainable survival of both human and non-human systems, there needs to be a change in value. The current defined value is a concept existing only in the human territory. Under this new lens human Institutions and governance systems no longer define what is valuable or not, we as humans are no an longer power over earth, rather merely inhabitants, ruled by natural systems. This new radical lens will allow creative exploration of the balance of tensions, environment and agriculture. This project is dedicated to creatively explore the implementation of this new radical regime of power.
A Biophilic City
A city of symbiotic existence, Rockhampton is a city of biophilic design.
The Fitzroy River is zealously guarded by the Marine Domain. This river is one of the main contributors of sediment and pollution into the Great Barrier Reef, it therefore a symbol of power.
Molly is a 4th year Landscape Architect Student who has grown her passion for biophilic design, inspiring to integrate the built environment with the natural environment, creating a symbiotic existence. Leading environmental concerns have influenced Molly’s designs to propose sustainable outcomes to preserve the future of our natural environment.