Interpreting the human-landscape dynamic of the Maleny region strives to connect people to their heritage, to their sense of place and identity, and to a desire to create sustainable futures. To achieve this, it is necessary to study how the natural and cultural history of the Maleny region is reflected in the landscape; how this can be interpreted to the public; and how futures studies concepts can be applied to the data to help create preferred futures for the region. This thesis provides a multidisciplinary approach to exploring historical impacts of human land use, and to communicating it to a wider audience. The intention is that the findings will be integrated into an interpretive trail in the Maleny Community Precinct, a multi-use community area east of the Maleny town centre. Environmental history theory is used to examine the relationship between humans and their landscape; environmental interpretation theory is used to shape the data into a narrative to engage visitors of the interpretive trail; and futures concepts are applied to suggest ways of encouraging visitors to participate in creating sustainable futures at both the individual and planning levels. The key findings of this research indicate that the case study of the Maleny region is a story of humans engaging with the complex dilemma of how to balance a diverse range of land-use needs. Contestation has arisen throughout history to determine prevailing landscape dynamics under shifting and overlapping land-management regimes. The human-landscape dynamic has fluctuated between high degrees of sustainability with low populations and low industrial productivity, and higher populations and industrial productivity with lower levels of sustainability. The trajectory of these variances is leading towards a new emerging sustainability land-management regime that is a hybrid of these historical ends of the human-landscape dynamic spectrum. Community and government participation in planning more open, inclusive and holistic landscape dynamics is leading the charge towards more resilient communities and landscapes and this thesis is a contribution to creating this newly envisioned future.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of University of the Sunshine Coast, Master of Arts, 2015.