Tag Archives: environment

Alpine Researchers honoured for contributions to parks

This is from a few weeks ago, but is good acknowledgement of the efforts of researchers working to remove Hawkweed and control willows on the Bogong High Plains. Thanks to David Turner for spotting this one.

The release below is from Parks Victoria.

orange_hawkweedTwo Victorian researchers have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to managing highly invasive weeds in Victoria’s Alpine National Park.

Parks Victoria Chief Executive Dr Bill Jackson today acknowledged The University of Melbourne’s Dr Nick Williams, and Dr Joslin Moore from Monash University, as joint recipients of Parks Victoria’s inaugural Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award.

Dr Jackson said the award was being presented to the two researchers for their outstanding contribution to fostering excellence in applied science for the benefit of park management.

“Both projects demonstrated the researchers’ strong willingness to work closely with park managers to understand the extent and challenge of the weed problems. They also demonstrated leading edge science in solving difficult problems.”

“The work of Dr Williams and his team from The University of Melbourne has helped to protect the Alpine National Park’s biodiversity and transformed hawkweed control into a cutting edge and targeted program. This research partnership between Parks Victoria and Department of Environment and Primary Industries staff has significantly reduced Hawkweeds in the Alpine National Park, and the goal of eradicating it altogether is now a real possibility.”

“Dr William’s research and the work being done by all the partners on this project also benefits private landowners as hawkweeds have the potential to invade agricultural land and significantly affect agricultural production.”

Dr Jackson said Dr Joslin Moore and her team had achieved great results in controlling willow on the Bogong High Plains and as a result has had a major impact in protecting the Bogong High Plains environment.

“Willows are highly invasive and following the 2003 fires began germinating in large numbers. This posed a significant threat to an area within the Alpine National Park that is particularly important for its high biodiversity and landscape environment.

“As a result of a 7 year partnership with Parks Victoria, local Catchment Management Authorities and Falls Creek and Mt Hotham resorts, Dr Moore’s work has been fundamental in improving efforts to control willows on Bogong High Plains.”

Dr Jackson said both researchers had extensively documented their research in scientific publications, adding to the international body of work on effective methods of managing these extremely invasive weeds.

“I warmly congratulate Dr Williams and Dr Moore, and their teams who have contributed to this work, on making a real difference to managing invasive weeds in Victoria’s iconic Alpine landscapes.

“Caring for our parks is a complex task that involves many challenges including climate change, population increases and threats such as invasive pest plants and animals.

“We need innovative solutions and a good scientific understanding of how best to tackle these issues and how best to care for these important natural environments. Dr Williams and Dr Moore’s projects are part of Parks Victoria’s Research Partners Program that fosters collaborative applied research with universities and other research organisations.

The Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award

This award presented by Parks Victoria honours the late Professor Nancy Millis who was Chair of Parks Victoria’s Science and Management Effectiveness Advisory Committee since its inception 1997 and a member of Parks Victoria Board’s sub-committee on Environment.

The Minotaur and Mt Gould

more private development in Tasmanian World Heritage Area ?

As the Tasmanian and federal governments are being internationally criticised at the World Heritage Commission meeting in Doha over their attempt to de-list 74,000 hectares of forest from the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, a new threat to the integrity of Tasmania’s reserves has come to light.

A Tasmanian government website is calling for Expressions of Interest from investors w ho have “ideas (for development) in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area as well as our National Parks and Reserves”.

It says the government wants to “unlock its natural areas to allow exciting new tourism experiences that are complemented by sensitive and appropriate tourism infrastructure”. In other words, more private development in conservation reserves.

Specifically, it says that the Government is looking for “developments which broaden the range of exciting and unique experiences on offer in our state by improving access for tourists while maintaining the integrity of our natural areas”.

It suggests that “sensible and appropriate” developments in the Wilderness World Heritage Area, National Parks and Reserves might include “resort-style accommodation. It might include walking tours, helicopter flights, mountain-bike riding, river cruises, new interpretative experiences or even luxury camping escapes”.

The Government is initially looking for ideas for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area as well as our National Parks and Reserves. In the longer term it will consider other protected areas including Crown land and State Forests.

The first round for putting in an EOI is open until 21 November 2014.

With the anti-green agenda of the Tasmanian government it is very hard not to see this as a dangerous development which will undermine the ecological integrity of the reserve system.

The Greens have opposed this process. Greens’ Parks and Tourism spokesperson Nick McKim said in May that “the Liberals have an irrational and ideological desire for development at any cost, and they simply cannot be trusted to safeguard the natural and cultural values of Tasmania’s National Parks.”

 

Introducing The Watershed

6a00d8341d07fd53ef01a3fd06febb970b-500wiAs we wait patiently for cooler weather and serious snow falls, you may enjoy this one. Its the pilot issue of a newsprint publication.

The previous one focused on all things snow and was called The Drift.

The Watershed is a collaborative newsprint publication between The Usual (‘The Usual is a creative team with a penchant for the outdoors’) and Patagonia to celebrate the joy of simple fly fishing, healthy rivers, dam busting, and sustainably sourced food.

The Watershed features Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia fly fishing ambassador April Vokey, DamNation producer Matt Stoecker, director Travis Rummel, 1% for the Planet co-founder Craig Mathews, dam buster Katie Lee. With contributions by Malcolm Johnson, Jeremy Koreski, Paul Greenberg, Jeanine Pesce, Keith Malloy, Trevor Gordon, Stefan Knecht, Jim Mangan, and others.

Pick up your  Spring/Summer 2014 copy at select Patagonia stores worldwide.

You can read it here.

Leaves From An Australian Forest Protest

Ron coverIn the late 1980’s the campaign to save the majestic forests of the South East New South Wales hinged on a Base Camp set up at Reedy Creek to provide a jumping off point for Direct Action.

The forest protests were having limited effect and getting very little media. Late one night, around the campfire, a small group of greenies discussed their ’perfect’ action. It turned out that each of us dreamed the same dream; getting away from the mass arrest protests of the day where people simply presented themselves en-mass for arrest and moving up into the trees where the Police couldn’t reach us and staying there – that is how the first long-term tree action on mainland Australia was born.

This is a poetic memoir of the actions that followed by Ron Fletcher, who was a central figure in the campaign. As Ron notes “while much of those forests has since been sacrificed to the wood chippers greed, the spirit and skills developed through Nullica and subsequent SE forest protests continued and grew to be followed by many powerful platform protests and protestors”.

You can read a review and order the book here.

Alpine grazing. It’s not just a bumper sticker, it’s a hypothesis

fire damage on Great Alpine Road
fire damage on Great Alpine Road

Its just not a credible one.

Latrobe University recently hosted a significant event organised by the Research Centre for Applied Alpine Ecology on the much contested topic of alpine grazing and whether it is a useful management tool to reduce fire intensity.

It featured two researchers with long term research backgrounds in the realm of fire and grazing.

A report is available here.

w-valley

challenge to alpine grazing

The following update comes from the Victorian National Parks Association.

Today we lodged papers in the Supreme Court of Victoria challenging the Napthine Government’s reintroduction of cattle grazing to the Alpine National Park.

The whole idea of national parks is to conserve nature for future generations, and for its own sake. These natural environments are irreplaceable – a gift to the present, and a legacy for the future.

But by insisting on putting cattle back into the Alpine National Park the Victorian Government is ignoring the intention of the law that established national parks.

Now that all other avenues of protecting the national park have been thwarted we have been forced to take legal action.

Both the state and federal governments have failed in their duty to protect the Alpine National Park.

This is a legal test case. No one has ever tried it before, so we can’t guarantee we will win.

But in our view there is no other option. We have to take this brave step.

Ensuring the integrity of national parks is an investment in the future. Whether we win or lose this legal test case, the idea and importance of national parks as a haven for people and nature must be defended.

To fight this campaign we need to raise money from visionary people in Victoria. We’re hoping you are one of those people.

This campaign is vital. It’s not just about stopping cattle, it’s also about putting a stop to all the other attempts to exploit and commercialise our national parks in ways that irreversibly damage them for future generations.

We have to take this legal action now.  In March this year, 60 cattle were rushed back into the Wonnangatta Valley, part of the heritage-listed Alpine National Park, by your government as part of a flawed fire management trial.

These ‘cattle grazing trials’ have been roundly criticised as flawed science that will contribute little, if anything, to our understanding of fire management. The evidence speaks for itself, you can read it on our website.

We have to stop them going back in again over the coming 2014-15 summer when more cattle (up to 300) will do even more damage!

The mountain cattlemen have clearly said they want to return cattle to the entire Alpine National Park, and that this ‘trial’ is just the starting point.

With a looming state election, the Napthine Government and the Labor opposition must clarify their policy on these ‘scientific’ cattle grazing trials.

Victorians have a right to know before the next state election if they are voting for a small-scale scientific trial, the full-scale return of cattle grazing to the Alpine National Park or for the exclusion of cattle from the park once and for all.

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winter on it’s way

With a couple of good dustings across the Alps in early May, everyone is getting impatient for winter. Thoughts turn to the big questions in life: when will we get that first serious dump? What trips am I going to do? Do I need any new gear?

If you’re getting ready for the first serious falls and opening weekend, maybe it’s time to think about:

ethical gear.

The Green and Sustainable gear site brings together information and listings on green and ethical outdoor gear, including what is still produced locally.

There are also a growing number of outdoor equipment producers who are paying attention to ensuring they have good working conditions in their factories. A lower impact snow industry is certainly getting closer every year – but only if we support it.

our carbon footprint.

Here in Australia, a trip to the snow usually means a lot of hours sitting in a car. But most resorts are well serviced by buses. Perhaps think of doing at least one trip a year by bus, as a practical way of reducing your impact. There are various ‘carbon calculators’ that are available so you can measure – and hopefully – reduce the impacts of your lifestyle.

If you’re a backcountry skier/ boarder, one option is to use buses to do longer tours: eg starting at Falls Creek and ending at Hotham.

hassle the resorts.

Most Australian ski resorts have given up on acting in any meaningful ay to reduce their contribution to global arming. In the US and Europe, many resorts are implementing a range of energy efficiency programs, sourcing green power (and even producing their own) and other measures. Resorts here have abandoned meaningful commitment to reducing impact.

If you stay in a resort, why not give them some feedback about the need for them to show leadership in responding to climate change?

sunscreen.

Up high, just that bit closer to the sun, we need our sunblock. But what about the hidden nasties? Check here for a guide to nano free sunscreens.

keep your recycling hat on.

At home, most of us nowdays think about the little things that make a big difference: separating the rubbish from the recycling, turning off the lights when we leave the room, keeping an eye on water and energy use. A big problem with the massive influx of people to resorts in winter is that lots of them seem to leave their conscience at home when they are on holidays. Wasteful behaviour, lower recycling rates, cranking up the heating while leaving the door open. We’ve all seen it.

But if we can look after these things at home, we can certainly do it while on holidays …

protecting the Alps.

Climate change is an ever a greater risk to the mountains that we love and enjoy. Please think about supporting one of the groups that campaign on climate change or protecting the Alps.

A few ideas here:

Friends of the Earth Australia

Protect Our Winters

More ideas and contacts for local groups here.

Public Symposium on Fire Management and Alpine Grazing

10001434_807156965961438_7591415225312276971_nWEDNESDAY 21st MAY 2014, 530 to 700 PM

Hoogenraad Auditorium, La Trobe Institute for Molecular Sciences

LA TROBE UNIVERSITY, Bundoora Campus

Hosted by the Research Centre for Applied Alpine Ecology, La Trobe University

This Symposium will showcase how science answers questions about a current, highly topical management issue in the Australian Alps – the effects of livestock grazing on fire regimes of the Australian High Country.  The guest speakers will address globally important topics such as the evolution of Australia as a flammable continent, how weather and fuels determine fire regimes, fire-grazing interactions, and approaches to assessing the effectiveness of various fire management options, including alpine grazing. This is a public forum about an important land management issue, and there will be ample time for questions and discussion at the conclusion of the talks. The Symposium will be followed by drinks and nibbles.

This Symposium is a must for anyone with an interest in the ecology and management of the Australian Alps. Enquiries and reservations: femaa2014@gmail.com

Places are limited. RSVP: 15th May 2014

 

there is already substantial viewing infrastructure on the mountain

Mt Wellington cablecar proposal update

The following update comes from the Hobart group Respect the Mountain, who are concerned about plans to build a cable car up Mt Mount Wellington/ Kunanyi (check here for some background).

Dangerous precedent to be discussed at Hobart City Council meeting on 28th April

April 25, 2014

cable carA dangerous precedent is to be discussed at the Hobart City Council meeting in Town Hall on Monday 28th April at 5pm.

Mount Wellington Cableway Co. (MWCC) is hoping that council will grant landowner permission to extend the boundary of the Pinnacle Zone without any indication of what will be built in the area between the lookout and the top of the Organ Pipes.

Currently the area below the lookout platforms are protected from development. If the MWCC gets their way, then panaromic views from the top of the mountain could be marred by cables protruding beneath them.

This has the potential to set very a dangerous precedent for any future development on the mountain. Without any plans or specifications provided to council, the proponent is asking the City of Hobart to blindly provide permission to develop outside of established development zone. If the Hobart City Council agrees to this request, then it sets a precedent for any further proposals to be able to design wherever they want on the mountain!

MWCC are also yet to reveal exactly what they plan to build on the summit. Apart from a cableway station, other potential buildings that have been discussed include restaurants, cafes, visitor centre, accommodation, and an ampitheatre/function centre. This would form an enormous footprint on the fragile alpine environment and naturally wouldn’t all fit within the current development zone.

It is our belief that the cable car is being used to cloak an enormous development at the pinnacle.

Revelations at the MWCC breakfast launch just before Easter focused mostly on what they had planned on Cascade Brewerys land. Very little was mentioned about what was planned for the summit other than MWCC planned to fly an open-top cable car over the Organ Pipes.

Current revelations of plans are eerily similar to the 1993 Skyway plans that was to start at Cascades and used an aerial tram to travel to the summit where a restaurant and ski field were to be erected.
Respect The Mountain is calling on all concerned residents of Hobart to contact their Aldermen over the long weekend via mobile or email to register their concern before Monday’s meeting. Contact details are available on Respect The Mountain’s Facebook page, Twitter account and website. Alternatively, members of the public can attend the meeting at Town Hall at 5pm.

Giving Back part 2: the Victorian Mobile Landcare Group

I recently posted about the need for people who enjoy the mountains to give back to the natural environment in some way. One great option is to join or support one of the many groups that do ecological restoration work or track maintenance. One group that certainly ‘walks the talk’ is the Victorian Mobile Landcare Group, who work across a range of projects in the Victorian High Country.

The following is a report on a recent project they completed on the Bogong High Plains.

For contact details on a range of groups, check here.

Roper’s Hut Track Repair

Seven members of the Victorian Mobile Landcare Group Inc. (VMLCG) travelled to Mt. Beauty late on Friday 7 March in order to take on a request from Parks Victoria (PV) to assist create a rock vehicle bridge to protect sensitive sphagnum moss beds which straddle the Management Vehicle Only track out to the iconic Roper’s Hut, burn in the 2003 fires and restored in 2009 by a community effort, headed by the Freemasons Victoria NE District.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This one is the end of work. Time is 1 pm

The team met Parks Ranger Elaine Thomas and contractor Kim, on Saturday morning at Falls Creek and after rationalising vehicles and loads to reduce track impact, travelled out to the Big River Fire Trail and Roper’s Track intersection.

Once fortified by an early morning team, the VMLCG team then walked to the site, and after a JSA and briefing on design and approach by Kim, commenced the work to excavate and create the crossing.

In all, around 4 cubic metres of existing material was moved to make two purpose built and rock-based wheel tracks for both PV and contractor vehicles required to access the hut site. The 4 cubic metres of 75 – 150 mm granite rock used to fill the wheel tracks was kindly donated to the project by AGL, the operators of the recently constructed Clover hydro power station and this kind donation is much appreciated and acknowledged. Without it, this work would not have been possible.

This one is the end of work. Time is 1 pm
Start of the work at 10am. The pink dots mark the outlines of the track to be built
This one is start of work 10 am.  The pink dots are the track outlines we had to create.
This one is start of work 10 am.  The pink dots are the track outlines we had to create.

The VMLCG was originally tasked for two days but with the combined effort of the team and Parks Victoria rangers, the entire project was completed between 10 am and 1:30 pm on the Saturday – and after a quick lunch, the crew returned to Falls Creek and an early mark for the weekend!

The next phase of the project will be when the VMLCG returns with Fintona Girls’School to plant out around 450 alpine shrub species to stabilise the soil around the tracks and reduce their visual impact. It is expected in time, the spot will become barely noticeably and yet provide a much needed stabilising base for the occasional and required vehicle access.

We’ll let the before and after photos speak for the work done.

The VMLCG specialises in the development and delivery of remote area landcare projects and works collaboratively with a number of conservation groups on a diverse range of projects across Victoria. They can be reached via http://www.vmlcg.org.au