Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


climate change

‘Australia’s Environment Report’ identifies impacts on alpine areas

The annual Australia’s Environment Report summarises a large number of observations on the trajectory of our natural resources and ecosystems. It is prepared by the Centre for Water and Landscape Dynamics at the Australian National University (ANU).

As part of their report for 2019, they prepared an assessment of alpine areas. With hot weather, terrible fires, and dry conditions we already know how bad summer was for the mountains. This report quantifies some of the impacts.

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Interview: Vicki Adams

Vicki recently helped establish Outdoors People for Climate Action, which aims to engage people who work in or love the outdoors with the Climate Movement. This will help to mobilise a group of people with strong connections to wild and natural places, and connect them with the movement which is working to protect these areas from the long term impacts of climate change.

Vicki has decided to devote 2020 to climate action. As part of our series of interviews with people with connections to the mountains and outdoors, Vicki shared some thoughts on her work and connections to place.

The interview is available here.

Energy experts call for halt to Snowy 2.0

Back in 2017, the Federal Government announced a feasibility study into the possible expansion to the Snowy Hydro Scheme in the Snowy Mountains of NSW.  It was billed as being a circuit breaker in the ongoing impass in the ‘fossil fuels vs renewables’ energy debate because it would be renewable energy that will provide baseload capacity. The project would greatly enhance the pumped hydro capacity of the existing hydro scheme, meaning that water can be used multiple times to produce electricity.

While some environmentalists gave in principle support to the project, many wanted to see the details on what the physical environmental impacts of the project would be. In 2019, the NSW government released the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) into the project. This showed the level of physical impact of the project. The National Parks Association of NSW said in response that the EIS ‘proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park’. It has been expected that the project will soon receive approval for its EIS from the NSW government.

Now a group of thirty Australian energy experts have called for a halt to the hydro scheme.

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SOCIAL MEDIA ACTION: Support science-based Emissions Reduction Targets in Vic!

We all know that unchecked climate change poses an existential threat to the wild places we know and love.

This is a global problem, and requires a co-ordinated global solution. But all states, governments and communities also need to play their part. And we have a huge opportunity to see Victoria leap forward and start the transition away from it’s current reliance on fossil fuels.

This is a simple (and hopefully, creative) action that only takes a few minutes to do.

Continue reading “SOCIAL MEDIA ACTION: Support science-based Emissions Reduction Targets in Vic!”

Outdoors People for Climate Action

Outdoors People for Climate Action is a new group that was launched on the 1stof March 2020 following what was, for many outdoors people, a climatically confronting summer.

The launch also followed a period of growing climate change concern and action in Australia and around the world, marked by protests, actions, mass engagement, media coverage, and some major climate wins. Because the only thing lacking in addressing the climate crisis globally is political will – it’s now widely recognized that climate activism is essential to achieve a safe climate future.

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Kuark forest after the fires

The old growth forest of Kuark is (I can’t bring myself to say ‘was’) a jewel in the wild landscape of East Gippsland. It provides habitat for threatened species such as the Sooty, Masked and Powerful owls, Greater gliders and Long footed potoroos, and is a rare rainforest type where warm and cool temperate rainforest blend together in an ‘over lap’ assemblage.

There was a long campaign, led by Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) and The Wilderness Society to see the Kuark protected. It had considerable success, and was scheduled to be fully protected under a Bill in parliament to include Kuark in the Errinundra National Park.

Then this summer happened. I watched in horror as parts of the legendary Errinundra Plateau burnt and the rainforests of Martins Creek were devastated. I hadn’t heard news of the Kuark until now.

Ed Hill led the campaign to protect the Kuark forest. He has been up there recently. This is his report.

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Huge opportunity for climate action in Victoria

Climate change poses an existential threat to the wild ecosystems that skiers and snow boarders, hikers, climbers, paddlers, trail runners, and mountain bike riders rely on for adventure. It also poses an equally grave threat to the businesses that rely on wild nature for their existence. This is true locally and globally.

Climate change is a global problem. This requires a co-ordinated global response. But as part of global efforts, we all need to step up and do our part. From individuals to transnational corporations, and local councils to the UN, we all have to apply ourselves wherever we can, using the resources and influence we have.

At present there is a huge opportunity to set the state of Victoria onto a path that will see the transformation of it’s economy away from fossil fuels. But we need to seize this opportunity now.

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Community energy hubs in north east VIC

Interested in renewable energy and how to make it happen?

There will be information sessions across north eastern Victoria soon, including mountain and valley towns like:

Cheshunt: 11 March

Mt Beauty: 20 March

Mansfield: 23 March

Bright: 26 March

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Research highlights the fire threat to King Billy Pine

Tasmania is home to a treasure trove of ancient vegetation that emerged when Australia was part of the Gondwanda super continent. Most of the relict vegetation is not fire adapted (fire being a relatively recent arrival to Australia compared to Gondwanaland). Widespread wildfires in early 2016 caused devastating damage across large areas of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, including significant sections of vegetation which is not fire adapted, such as Pencil Pine forests.

At the time, and in follow up investigations, it became clear that increased fire risk due to climate change posed an existential threat to these vegetation types. Now additional research has confirmed the trend towards more extreme fire seasons. It suggests that we reached a ‘tipping point’ sometime around the year 2000and that, since then, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

Research just released through the journal Global Change Biology, titled ‘Population collapse and retreat to fire refugia of the Tasmanian endemic conifer Athrotaxis selaginoides following the transition from Aboriginal to European fire management’ underscores the threat posed to these forest types.

Continue reading “Research highlights the fire threat to King Billy Pine”

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