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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Author

Cam Walker

I work with Friends of the Earth, and live in Castlemaine in Central Victoria, Australia. Activist, dad to Tali & Mia, mountain enthusiast, climber & would be telemark skier.

Is this a game changer for sustainability in the outdoor industry?

US-based retail giant REI has just announced a new set of sustainability standards, which will apply to all 1,000-plus outdoor brands it currently sells , and all the ones it will sell in the future. The standards address a broad range of social and environmental concerns, with minimum requirements and a set of preferred or suggested practices’.

These guidelines will be implemented almost immediately. While REI only trades in the USA, many of the brands it stocks are sold here in Australia, so we have to assume these brands offerings in Australia will be manufactured to these standards.

While individual companies have been making significant advances in sustainability and workplace issues in recent years, the sheer scale of REI’s influence on the retail market in the USA could prove to be a game changer in that it could cause a ‘step change’ in the baseline operating standards of the outdoor gear sector.

Brands sold through REI include:

Arc’teryx, Deuter, Exped, Mountain Hardware, Mammut, Osprey, OR, MSR, The North Face, Columbia, Burton, ExOfficio, Helly Hansen, Kuhl, La Sportiva, Marmot, Smartwool, etc.

The full story can be found on Green Outdoor Gear.

Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Final Master Plan released

Several years ago, Tourism Victoria suggested that Victoria needed four ‘iconic walks’ in order to help ensure the state became a bushwalking destination. One of these was the ‘Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing’.

After a great deal of work, the final masterplan for the walk has been released by Parks Victoria.

Continue reading “Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Final Master Plan released”

Climate change impacts on resorts – and how they’re taking action to reduce emissions

We all know that climate change poses an existential threat to the snow and alpine environments that we love. While Australia’s lower mountains and modest latitude make it something of a miracle that we even have snow, there is little doubt that already our seasons are getting shorter, with less snow (our snow pack has been in decline since 1957).

But it is disturbing to see the impacts that are happening elsewhere, in countries at higher latitudes and with higher peaks. This recent story sums up some of what’s happening in North America, and how some resorts are responding.

Continue reading “Climate change impacts on resorts – and how they’re taking action to reduce emissions”

New hut opened at Frenchmans Cap

Lake Tahune sits beneath the main face of Frenchmans Cap in south west Tasmania and the hut, nestled slightly above the lake, can be a real God send in bad conditions. While the old hut certainly did the job of providing a dry space to gather and sleep in an often cold and wet place, it was as if it was designed to ignore its surroundings.

This new one is certainly a lot nicer looking and it honours the magnificent terrain it is located in, with much larger windows and lots more natural light.

Continue reading “New hut opened at Frenchmans Cap”

The economic impacts of climate change on winter sports

Protect Our Winters has released an update of it’s report ‘the economic contributions of winter sports in a changing climate’. It is yet another reminder about the economic benefits of the snow industry, both in local economies and at the national level, and the threat posed by climate change to this economic activity.

Continue reading “The economic impacts of climate change on winter sports”

Helicopter tourism in the Walls of Jerusalem?

Tasmania is blessed with beautiful and intact landscapes and excellent protection of much of the state. World Heritage Areas and national parks have long been coveted by developers and have been resisted – with varying degrees of success – over the years. The old saying ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom’ is certainly true in a place like Tasmania.

Under the current very pro ‘development’ Liberal government in Tasmania there are no end of proposals for private developments in national parks and other parts of the conservation network (check here for a current list). Mountain Journal has covered some of these, including the cable car planned for kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, the walking track into Lake Geeves in the south west of the state, and the gondola and re-development that is being proposed for the Cradle Valley in the north of the state.

Now a new proposal being pursued which would see helicopter tourism inside the Walls of Jerusalem National Park in central Tasmania.

Continue reading “Helicopter tourism in the Walls of Jerusalem?”

Grasshopper says the 2018 snow season will be ‘Not Bad’

The famed Grasshopper has released their first assessment of what the 2018 season may be like. Obviously its early in the year so hard to make definite predictions, but this first one is fairly hopeful.

It is definitely worth a read but the take home message is that:

‘At this early stage, I estimate that we will have a fairly good start to the season, then a slowish late winter. I’m leaving the door open for a spring dump, possibly even a rerun of the ‘Blizzard of Oz’ but that might be going too far. Maximum snow depths should lie within a range of 180-220 cm when comparing to a long-term average of 195 cm at Spencer’s Creek. The potential for artificial snow making may be hampered during the preseason due to warm and wet conditions, but later in the season snow machines will get their chance to shine.’

The next forecast will be released in early May.

 

Older forests experience ‘smaller and less severe’ fires

A new study in the journal Austral Ecology provides the most comprehensive analysis ever performed of the fire history of forests in the Australian Alps. This is a significant piece of work because it says that unburnt forests are less fire prone than those that have been recently burnt.

This has implications for how we manage these forests and woodlands. The current widely held assumption is that by reducing fuel loads, fire reduces the flammability of most eucalypt-based forests.

Continue reading “Older forests experience ‘smaller and less severe’ fires”

Mountain May Day

It’s crunch time in the campaign to stop the cable car up the face of kunanyi/ Mt Wellington. The proposal is being fast tracked by the Tasmanian government (background here).

If you’ll be anywhere near Hobart on Sunday 6th May please join this event and show your opposition to the desecration of the mountain.

Meet at 11am, Cascade Gardens, South Hobart.

Speakers include Bob Brown, Denison MP Andrew Wilkie, Richard Flanagan, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and others.

The Cable Car Company have said that ‘public opposition is virtually non existent’.

Put it in your calendar! Please share this event. More details coming.

Facebook event page here (has full details on the location).

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