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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Nat Segal – Greenland and the future of skiing

In March of 2014 six women set sail from Ísafjörður, Iceland with the intention of sailing across the Denmark Straight and up the south-west coast of Greenland. They hoped to explore the remote coastline, pioneer new ski descents, and collect scientific data in some of the most incredible wilderness on earth.

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Thirty years of co-operative management of the Alps

National Parks now cover much of the higher terrain in the Australian Alps, from the Baw Plateau to the east of Melbourne, all the way across the mountains almost to the outskirts of Canberra.

Those of us who enjoy these parks owe a great debt to the people who argued for the creation of the reserves in the first place, and to the generations of land managers that have looked after them.

While it is a discrete series of parks in Victoria, NSW and the ACT, there is also overall co-ordination of the parks through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the three state and territory and federal governments.

The MoU has allowed the Australian Alps to be managed co-operatively by the various agencies. Treating the Alps as a single bioregion makes a lot of sense, especially in a time of climate change. Yet like all good government decisions, the concept of co-operative management didn’t just appear. It took decades of work by a range of big picture thinkers and visionaries, and engagement in political processes at many levels that saw the creation of the agreement.

The current version of News from the Alps is dedicated to the co-operative arrangement and includes a potted history of the processes that lead to the signing of the MoU.

Whereas in the early stages after European colonisation, the Alps were seen largely as summer grazing grounds for cattle and sources of wood, gold and other materials, the history in the newsleter makes it clear that there was concern about the state of the Alps from the early to mid 1940s.

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Strengthening Parks Victoria – Your vision for parks

Parks Victoria is asking the community to ‘share your experiences, expectations and aspirations for parks’ via a website and series of community forums. This is happening as part of the Strengthening Parks Victoria project.

PV says:

‘As part of the Strengthening Parks Victoria project, we will be looking at your stories, comments, and advice to us, to help better understand what values parks have to you, and what we can do to enhance your enjoyment of Victoria’s incredible natural settings.

This information will help us to celebrate with you the spectacular landscapes, habitats and places we have managed for nearly 20 years, and understand how we must evolve in the future to deliver the best outcomes for Victorians, visitors, our economies, and the incredible Country we care for.’

On their website you can:

Tell PV about how you enjoy and experience Victoria’s parks

Provide ideas on how to improve the experience of visiting parks

Alpine Ecology Course 2017

The Research Centre for Applied Alpine Ecology is pleased to announce details of its 2017 Alpine Ecology Course.  This is an exciting opportunity to learn about the plants, animals, land-forms and soils that make up alpine ecosystems. The course is designed for people who are involved in natural resource management or conservation activities in alpine and other natural environments.

It will be held on the Bogong High Plains from the 5th – 10th February 2017.

Further information available here.

Hakuba MountainLife Magazine

One of the influences for Mountain Journal was a great magazine from Colorado called Mountain Gazette, which existed in a number of forms from the early 1970s. It was an insiders view of life, landscape, and culture in the mountain states of the USA (it now exists as an online journal).

As a lover of regionally focused art and media, I’ve long enjoyed a range of magazines from around the world, mostly North America, which cherish and appreciate the mountain environment. There are lots of great sport-focused journals that have a strong emphasis on the natural environment where our adventures take place (some of my faves include Backcountry, Wild and Rock and Ice). The rarer ones focus on culture, landscape and the interaction between people and their surroundings (Orion is a brilliant ‘all round’ journal in this regard, but I especially loved Highline, which stopped production last year).

I was recently introduced to Hakuba Mountain Life magazine, a thoroughly beautiful homage to the backcountry in this part of the Japanese Alps (thanks Peter).

It is put together by Mio Tonouchi and Damian Banwell. Damian is an Australian backcountry guide. The magazine does have a focus on their business but extends way beyond, celebrating particular mountains, providing advice on backcountry adventures and avalanche safety, and touching on the human culture that inhabits the valleys around the Japanese Alps. It has great images. The magazine describes itself as ‘reflecting our love for backcountry life in our local mountains’. Damian and Mio are doing their best to Live the Dream, riding in winter and farming at other times.

Loving and appreciating place through any form of media is a great thing to do. But I do agree with the ‘contributers’ section of the magazine, which notes the contribution of The Mountains & Nature Itself: ‘do not confuse the moon with the finger that points at it’.

[IMAGE: Hakuba Mountain Life]

Ethics, Culture and Wild Horses

Mountain Journal has often featured pieces on the issue of wild horses in the Australian High Country.

Public debate has hit a recent high point because both Victoria and NSW have updated their positions on horse management, with both states noting the significant negative environmental impacts of this introduced species.

The following article comes from The Conversation, and is by ecologist Don Driscoll who notes that while many in Australia hold a ‘cultural affiliation with horses’ there are other ways to celebrate this connection than ‘by having horses in fragile alpine ecosystems where they cause environmental damage’.

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Last week to have your say on the Mt Baw Baw and Lake Mountain 2030 project

Both the Lake Mountain and Baw Baw alpine resorts have been going through an extensive planning process and are in the final stages of seeking community input to the various options that have been identified for each resort.

Consultation has led to the creation of Future Direction Papers, which will inform the recommendations that are presented to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change.

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41 scientists back plan to cull 5,000 brumbies

The issue of how to manage wild horse populations in the Australian high country is a complex and vexed issue.

The NSW government has recently released a draft wild horse management plan for Kosciuszko national park which aims to cut the population of wild horses in the park from 6,000 to about 3,000 in the next five to 10 years.

The Guardian is reporting that plans to cull more than 5,000 brumbies in the Snowy Mountains has received the support of leading scientists from around Australia.

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Deer hunters want more access to Victorian wilderness

There is currently a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria into the control of invasive animals on Crown land. It is due to report back in March 2017.

Continue reading “Deer hunters want more access to Victorian wilderness”

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