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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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New system for fuel reduction burns in Victoria

The Victorian government has announced changes to how fuel reduction burns (‘controlled burning’) will be carried out in the state.

Since the Black Saturday fires of 2009, public land managers have been seeking to burn 5% of public land each year. This has been criticised for being a very blunt management instrument for a complex problem. There are concerns that burning regimes have been inappropriate for some types of vegetation, causing ecological damage, and have not been able to reduce overall fire risk in the state.

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Defending the Jumbo Valley

The Jumbo Valley, located deep in the wilds of British Columbia’s Purcell Mountains, has long been revered for its spiritual significance and beauty. To the Ktunaxa Nation, it is known as Qat’muk, home of the grizzly bear spirit.

For decades, First Nations, conservationists, backcountry skiers and snowboarders have fought a proposed large-scale ski resort deep in the Jumbo valley. After 24 years of opposition, what more will it take to keep Jumbo wild for good?

Jumbo Wild is a beautiful film about the plan for – and the campaign against – this major development.

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Review: Mountain Ash: Fire, Logging and the Future of Victoria’s Giant Forests

David Lindenmayer is the renowned specialist on the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum and the Mountain Ash forests that are their home. He has collaborated with other researchers to produce a book which looks at the possums future in light of fires and logging.

While it is expensive (almost $60) it is an incredibly important contribution to our knowledge about these forests. It is available from the CSIRO.

The following review was written by Alex Mullarky, and originally published on the Wild Melbourne website.

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Fuel reduction of limited value in reducing fire risk

Fuel reduction (also called controlled burning) is a key tool used by land managers to reduce the intensity of fires when they do occur. Its a simple theory: do a controlled, ‘cool’ burn through an area to reduce the amount of fuel on the forest floor.

In Victoria, there is an annual target, whereby public authorities need to try and burn 5% of public land each year. This has lead to widespread criticism that Parks are burning areas a long way from ‘assets’ (house, farms, etc). In effect, it seems that the target has become political rather than about reducing fire risk. There is also evidence that some fire regimes being imposed on some landscapes may be causing ecological harm or even potentially increasing fuel loads through changing vegetation structure.

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Vale Ern Mainka

Many people will know the work of Ern Mainka. His photography was hugely popular amongst nature enthusiasts, and I must have seen his images in hundreds of places over the years.

Apart from capturing our wild places so well, Ern played a significant role in raising awareness about the many threats posed to these places. Many of these landscapes are now protected, and Ern played a big part in many of these victories.

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Join the 2015/2016 Falls Creek Hawkweed Volunteer Program

Native to Europe, Hawkweeds have recently become naturalised on mainland Australia.

Hawkweeds are highly invasive and spread quickly via runners and roots, forming dense mats inhibiting and outcompeting native vegetation. They can cause major environmental damage in alpine and sub-alpine areas, and are considered a significant threat to the Victorian Alps if not eradicated early.

Participating in volunteer surveys is a great way to help protect the Victorian Alps from this dangerous weed, as well as a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the magnificent alpine environment during the green summer months.

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Victorian government tables bill to protect National Parks

Earlier this week the Andrews Labor Government put an amendment before Parliament to implement its election commitment to prevent large-scale private development in national parks by removing the ability to grant 99 year leases.

This is a good move given the previous government’s interest in allowing new and potentially intrusive developments in the park system.

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Demand up for native Australian food mountain pepper

Anyone who has walked in the High Country will be able to relate to this one. Mountain Pepper is a common shrub that has a strong and spicy taste. Its about some farmers in Gippsland who have started to cultivate Mountain Pepper to sell at markets.

Mountain Pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) is found in cool wet habits from sea level to alpine areas in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. It grows in mountain gullies and mountainous areas

The story below comes from the ABC by journalist Laura Poole.

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‘Unite for POW in Paris’

Mountain Journal has often covered the various sustainability initiatives by ski resorts and the snow/ outdoor industries.

It has also noted the fact there here in Australia, the resorts and industry have either given up all pretense of even caring about climate change or simply have never done anything on the issue. In theory most resorts at least support the ideas behind the ‘Keep Winter Cool‘ initiative, but when was the last time you saw any of them promote climate change or sustainability measures in their materials?

It will be interesting to see if the sale of Perisher Resort in NSW to Vail Resorts will have any impact on the local industry. Vail has at least signed on to some initiatives like “Target 10” aiming for a 10% reduction in energy use.

As we get closer to the climate negotiations which will happen in Paris in late November, the stakes keep getting higher. With the current global agreement (the Kyoto Protocol) due to expire shortly, it is essential that world leaders agree on the framework for the agreement which will replace it.

Continue reading “‘Unite for POW in Paris’”

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