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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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environment

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.

Continue reading “Join the 2015/2016 Falls Creek Hawkweed Volunteer Program”

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’”

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.

 

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