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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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land management

Former fire chiefs demand urgent action on ‘escalating climate change threat’

We know that climate change is already impacting on Australia’s high country through longer and more intense fire seasons and increasingly erratic winter snow.

What is perhaps less obvious is the fact that emergency services are not adequately resourced to defend the mountains from worsening bushfire seasons.

This has been highlighted in the case of recent fires in Tasmania, where – even with interstate and international support – emergency services were not able to control fires in Tasmania’s world heritage areas over the summer of 2018/19. This had previously been the case in Tasmania in 2016, when precious areas of fire sensitive vegetation were destroyed. Additionally fires in the Victorian high country burnt some areas for the third time in 10 years, with the possibility of significant long term ecological impacts.

Now 23 of Australia’s most senior former emergency service bosses have come together in an unprecedented show of unity, calling on the Prime Minister to ‘get on with the job’ of reducing greenhouse gasses.

They also highlight the fact that Australia currently lacks the resources we need to fight wild fire effectively.

Continue reading “Former fire chiefs demand urgent action on ‘escalating climate change threat’”

“Reining in feral horse numbers should be top of Matt Kean’s to-do list”

The re-election of a conservative government in New South Wales sends a worrying signal to people who are concerned about climate change and the environment. They have already announced that the Office of Environment and Heritage will cease to be a ‘stand-alone independent body’ and environment issues will be absorbed into a new planning and industry department, while heritage will be moved into premier and cabinet. The Nature Conservation Council responded to this move by saying the government has ‘been at war with nature and environmental protection since it came to power in 2011’.

Reclaim Kosci, an advocacy group which is campaigning to ensure the Kosciuszko National Park is protected through tackling the number of feral horses running rampant in the park, says this issue should be the number one priority for the new energy and environment minister, Matt Kean.

Continue reading ““Reining in feral horse numbers should be top of Matt Kean’s to-do list””

‘Save Kosci’ walk finishes at Mt Kosciuszko

More than 600 people joined sections of the 36 day walk from Sydney to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko which aimed to raise awareness about the negative impacts of feral horses in the Kosciuszko national park. The walk finished on December 9. The five people who did the whole walk from Sydney were joined on the final day by 178 people, walking from Jindabyne, Thredbo or with the main group from Charlotte Pass.

Continue reading “‘Save Kosci’ walk finishes at Mt Kosciuszko”

Volunteer Hawkweed eradication programs in the Snowy Mountains

Mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella) is an invasive perennial herb in the daisy (Asteraceae) family. It is native to Europe and Asia but now occurs as a serious weed in New Zealand, Canada and USA.

A small infestation of mouse-ear hawkweed was discovered in December 2014, near Charlottes Pass in the Main Range of Kosciuszko National Park. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has an active control-and-detection program under way to eradicate this threat.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service in NSW is organising a volunteer program in the Snowy Mountains from January until March 2019. Volunteers help with identifying the location of hawkweed infestations.

Continue reading “Volunteer Hawkweed eradication programs in the Snowy Mountains”

‘Hooves off our Alps.’ Public forum in Melbourne

NSW wants to protect its feral horses. Why Victorians should be worried?

You’re invited to this free forum hosted by the Invasive Species Council in Melbourne, on Wednesday, 28 November 2018 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

Continue reading “‘Hooves off our Alps.’ Public forum in Melbourne”

‘Save Kosci’ walkers to start their 560 km journey

On the 3rd November, a group of bushwalkers will start a 35 day walk from Sydney to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, to highlight the damage being caused by feral horses.

If you live in Sydney, please consider attending the ‘send off’ as they leave for Kosci.

Saturday Nov 3 at 9am.

Continue reading “‘Save Kosci’ walkers to start their 560 km journey”

Climate change influencing tree death in times of drought

In Australia, we know that climate change driven fire regimes are impacting on plant species in mountain environments.

Research published earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change describes a series of ‘sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts’ that have occurred recently across Australia. These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience.

In the south east of the continent, in terms of massive fires (greater than 250,000 ha), Victoria experienced two such events in the 19th century and five in the 20th century. In less than two decades, we have already had three mega fires in the 21st century. This has led to fears that Alpine Ash could become extinct in many parts of the alps unless we intervene through more extensive wildfire suppression or artificial seeding. It appears that increased fire frequency is the key factor impacting on the likely survival of plant species like the alpine ash.

New research, covered in the Colorado-based High Country News, points to temperature rise as an issue for mountain species in sections of North America.

Continue reading “Climate change influencing tree death in times of drought”

Concerned about feral horses in Kosciuszko? Get walking

On the 3rd November, a bunch of bushwalkers will start a 35 day walk from Sydney to the summit of Kosciuszko, to highlight the damage being caused by feral horses.

They are looking for walkers to join them for all or some of the walk. The route will follow main and secondary roads, via Camden, Mittagong, Goulburn, Canberra, Cooma and Charlotte Pass.  With the support of the National Parks Associations of NSW and the ACT, and Bushwalking NSW, they are expecting large crowds at the start and finish of the walks. More detail is available on the Save Kosci web site (savekosci.org)

You’ll be able to register as a walker or non-walking helper from early September. Watch this page for further news, or contact Linda Groom, convenor@savekosci.org

‘Ecosystem collapse’ threatens Alpine Ash and Pencil Pines

The news is really scary at present. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Climate change has helped melt nearly a fifth of Colombia’s mountaintop glacier cover in just seven years
  • As a record-breaking heat wave scorches Sweden, dozens of wildfires are raging in parts of the country. At least 11 fires within the Arctic Circle. As one researcher put it: “This is definitely the worst year in recent times for forest fires,”
  • Meanwhile many places in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest temperatures ever recorded.

Closer to home, research recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change describes a series of ‘sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts’ that have occurred recently across Australia. These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience.

While coverage of this research has tended to focus on the impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, other examples – about Gondwanic forests in Tasmania and Alpine Ash forests in the Australian Alps – should be a wake up call for people concerned about mountain environments.

Continue reading “‘Ecosystem collapse’ threatens Alpine Ash and Pencil Pines”

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