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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Protecting our playground means action on climate

We’ve on the tail end of an awesome winter. But the fact is that climate change poses an existential threat to the winters we love.

Yet again, climate scientists have warned that we are running out of time to cut greenhouse emissions. Yet the federal government has dropped the ball on climate action (and our carbon emissions continue to soar), so we need everyone to put their shoulder to the wheel and remind them that the community wants to see meaningful action on climate change. Please send a message to the PM, Scott Morrison, that our winter landscapes are at threat, and that we expect his government to act.

The outdoor community and the outdoor industry have enormous political power. But only if we choose to flex our muscles.

Here’s two really simple ways you can get climate change on the radar of the PM:

Continue reading “Protecting our playground means action on climate”

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The 2018 Victorian backcountry festival

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come along to the inaugural Victorian backcountry festival (BCF). More than 200 people attended over the two days, with more than 20 sessions being held, including clinics, tours, skillshares, presentations, and a film festival.

BCF grew from the world telemark day celebrations that have been happening at Mt Hotham the last 5 years. After deciding to bring it to Falls Creek, the idea morphed into an ‘all things backcountry’ event which would aim to bring together some of the backcountry (BC) community and offer an opportunity for ‘first timers’ to get involved. We focused on many forms of human powered winter adventure – including cross country, snow shoeing, alpine touring, telemark and splitboarding.

Continue reading “The 2018 Victorian backcountry festival”

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Ignition Mountain Bike Festival

From the organisers:

‘You like to ride bikes? You like to party? Well this is the biggest and best bike riding party around!
Blue Dirt Mountain Biking presents Ignition, a mountain bike event hinged on the core social elements of the rider lifestyle.

Join us at Falls Creek 17-18 November 2018 to celebrate all things MTB’.

Full details here.

#VoteTheOutdoors

The outdoor recreation community is huge. The outdoor recreation industry is equally large, employing many thousands of people and generating billions of dollars of economic activity each year (the Australian ski industry alone generates more than $1.8 billion a year and employs more than 18,000 people).

Yet the outdoor industry, taken as a whole, remains curiously silent on key issues like park protection, threats to wild areas and climate change. There are a few standouts, like Patagonia, but generally they’re missing in action on the key issues of our time.

Not so in the USA, where the election of the anti environment Trump administration has radically heightened the already active outdoor sector. With the mid term elections happening soon, which will have enormous implications for the balance of power in both houses of federal government (and hence Trump’s ability to implement his negative agenda), the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has launched an impressive  #VoteTheOutdoors campaign to mobilise people concerned about climate and protecting wild nature.

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TAS and federal govs ‘ignored expert advice’ in approving wilderness development

The attempt by some in government and business to open up World Heritage and other protected areas to commercial development has seen a long running campaign by those who fear that individual developments could be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ and open the door to much greater incursion.

Recently there has been substantial concern about plans to build a fly-in, fly-out luxury camp at Lake Malbena in Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) on the Central Plateau. It is a remote location, to the south east of the famed Walls of Jerusalem area. The plan includes a helipad, accommodation, kitchen and toilet facilities.

Now, leaked documents show that Tasmania’s national parks advisory body argued against the controversial development which has been supported by both the State and Federal Governments.

Continue reading “TAS and federal govs ‘ignored expert advice’ in approving wilderness development”

Citizen Science Survey Camp – Spring 2018

The Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO), based in far east Gippsland is hosting a citizen science survey over the Melbourne Cup long weekend in November (November 3 – 6, 2018).

“You will learn from the dedicated and passionate ecologists and activists at GECO whose citizen science campaign is saving forests from logging. We’ll be based in and around Goongerah, including surrounding high conservation value and old growth forests, and the iconic Kuark forest”.

Continue reading “Citizen Science Survey Camp – Spring 2018”

Climate change influencing tree death in times of drought

In Australia, we know that climate change driven fire regimes are impacting on plant species in mountain environments.

Research published earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change describes a series of ‘sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts’ that have occurred recently across Australia. These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience.

In the south east of the continent, in terms of massive fires (greater than 250,000 ha), Victoria experienced two such events in the 19th century and five in the 20th century. In less than two decades, we have already had three mega fires in the 21st century. This has led to fears that Alpine Ash could become extinct in many parts of the alps unless we intervene through more extensive wildfire suppression or artificial seeding. It appears that increased fire frequency is the key factor impacting on the likely survival of plant species like the alpine ash.

New research, covered in the Colorado-based High Country News, points to temperature rise as an issue for mountain species in sections of North America.

Continue reading “Climate change influencing tree death in times of drought”

‘Stopping Climate Change Is Hopeless. Let’s Do It.’

Auden Schendler is well known to many skiers and riders as being a key figure in snow industry efforts to move towards sustainability. He is the Vice President of Sustainability at the Aspen Snowmass resort in Colorado.

Just before the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C report was released, Auden co-authored an opinion piece in the New York Times with Andrew P. Jones. Given Auden’s pivotal role in the snow community, I thought it was worth sharing some excerts from it here which underscore the political challenge we face if we are serious about resolving the ‘climate problem’. The full article is available here.

Continue reading “‘Stopping Climate Change Is Hopeless. Let’s Do It.’”

1,000 km by bike through the Alps for climate action

On Oct 13 Clycle 2018 will leave Federation Square in Melbourne, with the plan to cycle all the way to Canberra via the Australian Alps.

Clycle 2018 is described by the organiser as a ‘non-charity’ bike ride. The idea is that instead of pledging money, supporters pledge ‘actions’ that will help to fight climate change. This is an unsupported trip so riders need to be fit and competent in remote areas and able to ride long distances (they expect to average 80 – 100 kilometres a day).

The organiser Peter Foot says “I’m riding a bicycle from Melbourne to Canberra, a distance of 1000km, whilst carrying an inflatable elephant. I’m doing this to bring attention to the climate crisis (the elephant in the room), and to start conversations about this most pressing of issues. It’s the largest threat to our way of life, yet it is rarely discussed in the media, or in polite company, and I want to change this.”

Grand Departure: 9am, Saturday 13th of October, Federation Square Melbourne.

Continue reading “1,000 km by bike through the Alps for climate action”

Gunaikurnai and Taungurung negotiate boundaries in the High Country

The Gunaikurnai and Taungurung Traditional Owner groups have connection to the Victorian Alps over thousands of generations, and in recent years they have been reasserting that connection.

Recently they have sought support form the Victorian government’s Right People for Country program to help clarify the boundaries between their respective countries. The Right People for Country Program supports Traditional Owners groups in the process of making agreements:

  • between groups – about boundaries and extent of Country
  • within groups

In general terms in this part of the Alps, Gunaikurnai country is in the catchments south of the Great Dividing Range while Taungurung country is on the north side of the divide. This process allowed the groups to clarify the boundaries for a section of the divide between Warburton and Mt Hotham.

Additionally, Taungurung and Gunaikurnai agreed to seek shared joint management of the Alpine National Park, valuing this as an opportunity for both groups to have increased involvement and greater influence over the management of Country.

Continue reading “Gunaikurnai and Taungurung negotiate boundaries in the High Country”

Leadbeater’s Possum habitat being logged in the Blue Range

Critically important habitat for Victoria’s faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum is being logged right now in the Blue Range to the east of the Cathedral Ranges in the Central Highlands.

Despite being notified of the critical habitat that is likely being logged in breach of the law, the environment department are making excuses as to why logging should continue and are refusing to investigate.

Please call on the Victorian environment minister to protect threatened species habitat and cease logging in forest along Tom Burns Creek in the Rubicon Region.

Take action

You can email the environment minister here – to tell her we want critical Leadbeater’s Possum habitat protected, not logged. And we want to be able to trust that the environment department is making every effort to protect species and not making excuses about why they will not carry out their obligations.

For background information on the logging please check here.

IMAGE: from WOTCH

 

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