Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



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.

Continue reading “Demand up for native Australian food mountain pepper”

‘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’”

Feral cattle cull in Snowy River National Park

Having seen cattle within various sections of the Alpine National Park over the years I have wondered whether they are cattle that have not been collected when herds have been removed, or whether its been illegal grazing. The comments in this story from Kath Sullivan in The Weekly Times are interesting. A farmer says of cattle found within a national park “I can’t lay claim to them because they’re not earmarked, but I can claim an interest in them”.

SHOOTERS will be choppered into the Snowy River National Park, in East Gippsland, to destroy feral cattle.

Parks Victoria district manager Will McCutcheon said 10 cattle remained in the park.Parks Victoria had recent success with helicopters used to locate the cattle and drop skilled shooters into remote, rugged sites, where access has been an issue,” he said. “With another helicopter operation we hope to remove the last of the cattle over the next few weeks.”

Gordon Moon, a farmer at Black Mountain in East Gippsland, was “devastated” to learn of the cull. His family owned a cattle-grazing lease in the park before cattle grazing in national parks was banned. When asked if the cattle could be his, Mr Moon said: “I can’t lay claim to them because they’re not earmarked, but I can claim an interest in them.

I’d think it’d be costing squillions to cull them.”

Victorian National Parks Association spokesman Phil Ingamells said: “They (cattle) are not meant to be there.”

Wild dog attacks. Farmers ask for more trappers.

Wild dogs are a huge problem in farming areas around the mountains in north east Victoria. They also prey heavily on native fauna. The issue of dog control has risen again recently in Victoria because of claims that there are fewer people employed to control population numbers.

According to a report in The Weekly Times (29/4/15):

“The Victorian Government employs 18 dog trappers, 10 in Gippsland and eight across the North East.

The Victorian Farmers Federation says that five years ago there were 25 trappers for the same area.

But the community engagement officer for the Government’s wild dog program, Barry Davies, said there were now “five or six casual wild dog controllers, two contractors and 25 field services officers who are trained to various deg­rees, some capable of trapping dogs.”

The full article, by journalist Kath Sullivan can be found here. It highlights the impacts on farmers and animals as a result of dog attacks on stock.

There are, of course, a number of ways of dealing with the problem. Trapping and shooting is a traditional method. Is funding for dog-proof fencing an option in key farming areas around the high country national parks? Some farmers use Maremmas (is a breed of livestock guardian dog indigenous to central Italy), while others bait.

There is also some question about whether the government will allocate more resources to employ additional hunters in the state budget, due to be released in early May.



Protecting the Kuark forest

The spectacular old growth forest of Kuark in East Gippsland provides habitat for threatened species such as the Sooty, Masked and Powerful owls, Greater gliders, Long footed potoroos and a rare rainforest type where warm and cool temperate rainforest blend together in an ‘over lap” assemblage.

The state owned logging company VicForests plan on conducting extensive clear fell logging operations in the forest this year and local conservationists are getting organised to halt the proposed destruction.

Victorian conservation group, Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) are stepping up their efforts to protect these forests from logging. The group have launched a citizen science program and public campaign to collect data and publicise the Kuark forest in the far east of Victoria.

Check here for the full story.

High country cattle grazing ban in national parks likely to succeed

In an update to our recent report on the Victorian government introducing legislation to ban cattle grazing in the Alpine and Red Gum national parks, it now seems likely the legislation will pass through the Upper House.

The ALP controls the Lower House but will require at least two additional Upper House votes to have the legislation approved. The Weekly Times is reporting that this is now looking likely:

Many Upper House MPs still expect the Government to succeed despite its minority position.

At least two of the five cross-benchers are expected to join the ALP and Greens and vote the Bill through after it clears the Lower House.

While all minority parties say they are still waiting to see the legislation’s wording, Sex Party MP Fiona Patten said she was likely to support the ban, as was Democratic Labour Party MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins.


Hands off the Tasmanian World Heritage Area!

In January, The Australian newspaper reported that:

“TASMANIA’S  Liberal government is to take the “wilderness’’ out of the state’s iconic Wilderness World Heritage Area, rezoning it to allow tourism developments, more aircraft and ship access, and even selective logging.

The radical plans, which have provoked outrage from conservationists, are contained in a draft ­revised management plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.”

The natural and cultural values of this incredible landscape are under threat, but you can write a submission about the management plan.

Friends of the Earth in Melbourne is hosting an information night to let people know what is being planned and how to write a submission.

Please come along and find out what is really going on and how you can help Tassie campaigners to protect this global treasure!

Featuring speaker Robert Campbell (President of the Tasmanian National Parks Association), amazing photography, films, snacks and drinks.

Thursday March 12, at 6.30 pm.

At Friends of the Earth, 312 Smith street, Collingwood.

A Facebook page for the event is available here.


Campaign to drain and restore Lake Pedder gains momentum

The following comes from the ABC (journalist is Rosemary Bolger). It chronicles the latest stage in the decades long campaign to have the dam waters above Lake Pedder in south west Tasmania drained so that the original lake and ecosystem can be restored.

Check here for details on the campaign to have the lake restored.

A long-running campaign to drain Lake Pedder and return the natural jewel of Tasmania’s south-west to its former glory is ramping up again.

Despite opposition from a small group of environmentalists, the lake’s still waters were swallowed up in 1972 by a massive inland sea created to supply the Gordon Power Station.

Harnessing the power of the green movement that emerged from the failed campaign, protesters went on to wage one of the biggest environmental fights in Australia to block the damming of the Franklin River.

Continue reading “Campaign to drain and restore Lake Pedder gains momentum”

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