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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, telemark skier, volunteer firefighter.

NSW National Parks Association and Nature Conservation Council launch campaign against ‘massive’ commercial development in Kosciuszko National Park.

The NSW National Parks Association and the Nature Conservation Council have launched a campaign to stop a massive intensification of commercial development within Kosciuszko National Park.

The NSW Government is proposing to increase the cap on resort beds by more than 40% (up from 10,915 to 15,360), build new and expanded carparks, allow helicopter flights onto the ski fields, and open walking tracks to four-wheel drive vehicles.

“These reckless proposals overturn more than 40 years of careful planning and management of the park,” NSW National Parks Association Executive Officer Gary Dunnett said.

Continue reading “NSW National Parks Association and Nature Conservation Council launch campaign against ‘massive’ commercial development in Kosciuszko National Park.”

Getting ready for the next Big One

As Victoria shivers through a good, old fashioned winter, it might be a strange time to be thinking about fire. But next fire season will be with us soon enough, and there are some lessons for us from the horror summer currently being experienced in the northern hemisphere.

A 1.5 million hectare bushfire is raging in Siberia, and Alaska is burning. So are large parts of Turkey. The ‘heat dome’ that brought record breaking temperatures to the Pacific North West of North America has been followed by a fire season comparable with what we experienced over the terrible summer of 2019/20. California is experiencing a fire season that started in their winter. In January, Issac Sanchez, of Cal Fire Sacramento said “we’re not seeing ‘fire season’ any more. It’s just one big fire year, where we can be prepared for and expect a large destructive fire at any point.”

Continue reading “Getting ready for the next Big One”

UNESCO pushes back against the privatisation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area 

Many thousands of people campaigned for years to see the best areas of wild Tasmania protected in national parks, World Heritage and other conservation reserves. However, the current Liberal state government continues its efforts to open up these areas to commercial development via tourism ventures.

While the plans for a ‘helicopter’ tourism venture at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau has been generating a lot of community opposition, a range of other, lesser known projects are also being pursued by a number of developers.

There has been a recent meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which considered the ‘In Danger’ listing of the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian government’s efforts to avoid this listing received a huge amount of coverage. There was another issue which got far less coverage, but which includes some much better news.

UNESCO has put the government on notice over it’s privatisation agenda: any development that impacts upon the World Heritage Area’s Outstanding Universal Values must be referred back to the Committee for review.

Continue reading “UNESCO pushes back against the privatisation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area “

Protect Our Winters Australia film screening: Purple Mountains

Snowboarder and environmentalist Jeremy Jones embarks on a mission to raise awareness about climate change.

His film Purple Mountains is being screened in Bright as part of the 2021 Victorian Backcountry Festival, which will happen in and around Mt Hotham resort over September 3, 4 and 5. Join festival sponsors Bright Brewery for a free screening of ‘Purple Mountains’ inside the brewery.

Continue reading “Protect Our Winters Australia film screening: Purple Mountains”

Lessons from the Tasmanian fires of 2018/19: state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’

Over the summer of 2018/19 huge fires burnt across Tasmania. An independent review of Tasmania’s management of the summer bushfires was released in August 2019. It found inadequacies in the response to the fire burning near Geeveston, and revealed that crews withdrew from the Gell River fire in Tasmania’s southwest in the mistaken belief it was out. The fire then expanded again and became out of control.

The report made a series of recommendations

Now, a comprehensive study examining the 2018/19 and the experience of authorities and affected groups by Insurance Group Zurich has found that the state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’.

“Since the turn of the millennium, climate change and land use change have converged to bring about a new fire regime in Tasmania,” Zurich’s first Australian Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) report said.

More than two thousand dry lightning strikes hit the state during that summer, igniting 70 fires that formed into four massive fire complexes. Over 95,000 hectares of protected land was burnt.

Continue reading “Lessons from the Tasmanian fires of 2018/19: state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’”

Traditional owners concerned with plan to dump spoil in Kosciuszko National Park

Threats to the Snowy Mountains continue: Amendments to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management have been published for public feedback, which set out the ‘desired changes’ to the area over the next 40 years (the submission timeline has now closed).

If approved, the plan would see a huge amount of development, including several thousand extra beds in resorts and new areas, occurring within this precious and fragile alpine park.

Meanwhile, Snowy Hydro pushes ahead with its plan to excavate approximately seven million cubic metres of earth for the project’s tunnels and subterranean power station.

That spoil will then be dumped on 55 hectares across four sites within Kosciuszko National Park.

Now a Traditional Owner representing the Ngarigo Nation in southern New South Wales says she has received no consultation about a plan to dump tonnes of waste spoil on her Country.

Continue reading “Traditional owners concerned with plan to dump spoil in Kosciuszko National Park”

Victorian Backcountry Festival 2021 Speakers Program Launched

As part of the 4th Victorian Backcountry Festival, we once again have a speakers program. As with other festivals, the program covers a range of mountain-related topics and great line up of presenters.

The program is being hosted by The General and Jack Frost, in Hotham village. It is being held over two days, the saturday and sunday.

The festival will run over three days: September 3, 4 and 5, 2021.

Continue reading “Victorian Backcountry Festival 2021 Speakers Program Launched”

Victorian Backcountry festival 2021 program launch

Here is the draft program for the 2021 Victorian Backcountry Festival, which will happen in and around Mt Hotham resort over September 3, 4 and 5. This will be the 4th year the festival has run.

Registration for the festival, and for the tours will be announced shortly – the program is being launched so you can get a sense of what’s on offer.  

Continue reading “Victorian Backcountry festival 2021 program launch”

14 million cubic metres of spoil to be dumped in Kosciuszko National Park

The proposal to build Snowy Hydro 2.0 to strengthen capacity for energy storage seemed like a good idea at first. But as the details of the project emerged, especially the likely direct physical footprint of the project, more and more people and groups started to oppose it. (Background stories on the issue are available here).

After the release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the NSW National Parks Association said that the plan ‘proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park’.

The project received approvals and is now being constructed. However documents tabled in the NSW Legislative Council reveal that the NSW Government will only receive $1.65 million from Snowy Hydro Ltd for the dumping of 14 million cubic metres of spoil in Kosciuszko National Park.

So, a large section of the Kosciuszko National Park (fifty-five hectares) will be impacted by the dumped waste, yet the NSW Government will receive barely 1/1000th of commercial waste disposal rates.

Continue reading “14 million cubic metres of spoil to be dumped in Kosciuszko National Park”

Major new developments planned for Kosciuszko National Park

The New South Wales government has released its 40-year plan to turn the Snowy Mountains into a ‘year-round tourist destination’. The draft Special Activation Precinct plan outlines options for future growth in and around Jindabyne.

The public is encouraged to submit feedback on the draft plan by mid-August. Amendments to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management have also been released for public feedback. This proposes substantial new developments within the Kosciuszko National Park. It is also open for public comment.

Continue reading “Major new developments planned for Kosciuszko National Park”

It’s getting hot in here

Australian skiers, boarders and other snow lovers know that our snowpack is often pretty erratic. Last winter saw ‘boom and bust’ snow events then heavy rain that destroyed the base. We all know the misery of rain and drizzle when it should be snowing.

We know that because of climate change, our snow pack has been in decline since the 1950s.

Without serious action on the global scale to reduce emissions, we will see more and more winters like 2020: erratic, sketchy snowpack and lots of rain events.

Continue reading “It’s getting hot in here”

Jaithmathang Senior Elders reconnect with their original Country

Jaithmathang Original Country elders are returning to the mountains to reconnect with their Yerto (meaning land/country high up). This story was produced by North East Catchment Management Authority and reproduced with their permission.

Jaithmathang Senior Elder, Loreman and Songman, Goengalla Jumma Myermyal Minjeke looks out over Yerto (meaning land/country high up) while standing on Mt Loch and reflects on a separation from Jaithmathang Original Country that has lasted generations. Mt Loch is within Shared Yerto of the GunaiKurnai and Jaithmathang Original Peoples’ Country. 

Continue reading “Jaithmathang Senior Elders reconnect with their original Country”

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