A new dilemma for the government:

According to The Age newspaper, “traditional owners of Victoria’s high country have threatened the Baillieu government with legal action, accusing it of “stepping over the mark” in the controversial return of cattle to the Alpine National Park.”

The government appears to be in the bunker and not responding to a number of recent stories in The Age.

UPDATE, 12/1/11: it has just been announced that the government has secretly put a small number of cows back in the Alps Park in order to “prevent any potential Federal Government injunction”. (!!)

This secrecy flies in the face of the Ted Baillieu’s committment to transparent government.

Check this letter from the Environmental Farmers Network on the grazing decision.

Background

Cattle were removed from the Alpine National Park in 2005 by the government of Steve Bracks. This was an important step forward for good land management in our state. Since then, some of the long term damage caused by decades of grazing have started to heal.

However, the Victorian Coalition announced in the build up to the November election that it would return cattle grazing to Victoria’s alpine national parks as a tool to reduce fire risk.

It probably made sense to summer graze cows in the alps when the practise started in the 1800’s. Given what we now know – of the ecological damage they cause – it made sense to remove them from the precious alpine areas.

Putting them back into the Park – in the very headwaters of our most significant river systems in a time of climate change – would mean turning our backs on common sense land management and scientific evidence. Grazing greatly damages the alpine systems, including the peat beds, that release high quality water into our river systems across the north east of the state.

Research on alpine grazing has consistently shown that the pro grazing mantra ‘grazing reduces blazing’ simply isn’t true.

The Victorian National Parks Association has substantial information on the question of grazing and fires which is available here.

You can also see the CSIRO’s finding on grazing and fire here.

We need to send a strong message to the new government that the majority of Victorians do not support the re-introduction of grazing into the Alps and other protected areas like the Barmah forest.

TAKE ACTION

Please write to the Premier and Environment minister, explaining that you are opposed to the reintroduction of cattle grazing into Victoria’s alpine environment.

You could mention that the grazing of cattle in a national park is inconsistent with conservation management, which is the main purpose of national parks protection. It will not help reduce fire risk. Our alps are at great risk from climate change and do not need that degradation that will come with grazing.

Simply send a brief and polite email outlining your concerns, with your name and address to:

The Hon Ted Baillieu MP
Premier of Victoria
ted.baillieu@parliament.vic.gov.au

The Hon Ryan Smith MP
Minister for Environment and Climate Change
ryan.smith@parliament.vic.gov.au

It would be great if you could cc us a copy so we know how many letters have gone in: foe@foe.org.au

Please send this alert on to your friends. Thanks!