Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



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.

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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.

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POW launches new campaign: #weallmisswinter

Protect Our Winters Australia has launched a new campaign, drawing the link between winters missed and climate change.

POW says:

‘Winter 2020 was one like no other. With limited or no access to our favourite mountains. It was difficult no being able to see our shred buddies, no fresh morning mountain air and for those who did manage to get some on-snow time, what snow did fall was well below average. But what if Winter 2020 was a look into the future? What if missing winter was the new norm?’

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Our best chance to get climate action in Victoria

Anyone who is paying attention knows that climate change poses an existential threat to the mountains we love so much. From more intense fire seasons to less snowpack and less water in the rivers, change is coming, and we need to act now as a global community before we become locked in to catastrophic climate change.

In Victoria, where we still mostly rely on dirty coal to make our electricity, we have a chance to steer our economy towards clean, renewable energy. That chance comes from the fact that the Victorian government soon needs to set emission reduction targets (ERTs) for the years 2025 and 2030.

As part of one last push to influence the government, we hope you will join this simple ‘selfie’ action, and tell the government you want to see serious climate action.

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Ethical fashion guide – how are the outdoor brands going?

Baptist World Aid Australia (BWAA) is one of the organisations that track working conditions and sustainability in clothing brands. They have just released their report for 2020. It provides great information on how many brands are going – including key outdoor companies.

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Stand with bushfire survivors for climate action

Bushfires devastated huge areas of mountain country last summer – across the eastern Alps in Victoria and the northern Snowy Mountains in NSW. These fires triggered three government inquiries – all of which identified climate change as being a key factor in the scale of the fires.

Now the Bushfire Royal Commission is due to release its final report. A key question will be whether the Commission recommends that Australia act decisively to reduce it’s contribution to global heating. Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action (BSCA)  is asking you to stand with us on climate change to highlight the need for the federal government to act.

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What’s your Big Idea for climate action?

The Victorian government is required to prepare and rollout a climate strategy every five years out to 2050. However, because of the C-19 pandemic, it is well behind schedule, so the Friends of the Earth Act on Climate collective has launched a push to write a People’s Climate Strategy for Victoria and is seeking your Big Idea that Victoria could take to act on climate.

It can be something to rein in emissions or protect the community from climate impacts. What could be done in mountain areas and surrounding towns?

There has long been a plan for a wind turbine at Mt Hotham. There have been several bulk buy programs to get solar panels onto houses and businesses at Hotham and Dinner Plain. What about micro hydro power in ski resorts? Or protecting the carbon dense forests of the Victorian Central Highlands? Running ski resort lift operations on 100% renewable energy? Using electric rather than diesel buses in ski resorts. Or building bushfire refugees in mountain communities?

What’s your big idea that will be good for climate change and good for the mountains?

  Continue reading “What’s your Big Idea for climate action?”

SEPT 25: Join the School strike 4 climate

Last September, outdoor and mountain communities joined the student’s strike for climate in unprecedented numbers. A highlight for me was the colourful gathering that happened at Mt Hotham, demanding action on climate change.

On September 25, school strike for climate are organising another day of nationwide actions and they would welcome your involvement.

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Walking the Mountains of Home – Kurrunganner /Mt Bride

Community members from Warburton in the Upper Yarra Valley have been attempting to stop the proposed logging coupes on and surrounding Mt Bride.

They say that “logging this area will reduce water security as the proposed coupes are within water catchment areas and it has long been recognised that logging has a negative impact on water yield”.

They also say that the coupes will increase fire risk, “as the micro climatic conditions will dry out the understory and the regrowth saplings will create more fuel”.

Some locals have been holding an annual ‘Walking the Mountains of Home’ journey up the local peaks. The Upper Yarra is blessed with gorgeous forested hills that rise steeply from the River. This tradition is about deepening connection to place and been happening for half a decade: ‘On the morning of each pilgrimage, we began by visiting the Yarra where everyone collected a river stone. We each carried our small token to the summit. Over the years, we are very slowly shaping a cairn. This is a place we visit annually, to remember the long legacy of love of this place by the first peoples, and to renew our commitment to learning about and caring for this country into the future’.

This year, because of the threat posed by the logging, the walk climbed Kurrunganner /Mt Bride. Local Maya Ward reports:

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Forest protests continue to ramp up in Victoria and NSW

For the last few months there have been sustained, decentralised protests happening against logging operations in Victoria. Check here for some notes on previous actions. It has continued today (June 29) with protests in the Black Range, Toolangi, Lakes Entrance Mt Disappointment and the Pyrenees State Forest, with a symbolic connection to protests being held in NSW.

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Black Lives Matter and the outdoor community

The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis has triggered global protests. From religious groups to trade unions, students to Indigenous people, there has been an outpouring of anger and solidarity. Tens of thousands of people have marched in Australia and street protests continue each day in the USA.

Many in the outdoors community and many outdoor brands in the USA have also expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Here are a few examples.

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Burning season in the Central Highlands

As post logging burns darken the sky across eastern Victoria, a growing number of community groups are mobilising to oppose the practise of the burns.

Post logging fires are different to fuel reduction burns. Post logging fires are meant to remove all the debris left behind from logging – the unwanted trees, the heads and branches, and the understory vegetation. Generally the waste is pushed into piles and burnt.

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