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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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land management

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”

Victoria moves to reduce wild horse numbers

The Andrews government has released a long-term plan to protect the Alpine National Park in Victoria from the threat of feral horses.

Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio launched the Protection of the Alpine National Park – Feral Horse Strategic Plan 2018-2021 this week, which aims to radically reduce wild horse numbers in the park. In announcing the plan, Minister D’Ambrosio said “feral horses cannot be allowed to run rampant in the Alpine national park – their hard hooves damage the precious environment and destroy the habitats of threatened species.”

Continue reading “Victoria moves to reduce wild horse numbers”

NSW ALP pledges to oppose Wild Horses legislation

In a significant move, NSW Labor have announced that they will not support “the ill-thought through Berejiklian-  Barilaro wild horse bill because it ignores science and the irreversible damage that unmanaged wild horse populations have done to Kosciuszko National Park”.

Labor has launched a plan to protect the Park’s fragile environment and the threatened species that live there.

The NSW government, which is proposing to legislate to enshrine the presence of wild horses in the park and rule out future culls, is expected to bring legislation into parliament as early as next week. The numbers are very close, with The Greens stating that they will oppose it. This firm statement from the ALP means the Coalition government has – at best – a very small majority of votes to see the legislation passed.

Continue reading “NSW ALP pledges to oppose Wild Horses legislation”

Horse cull to be banned, horses to be ‘built in’ to future planning for Kosciuszko

In a bizarre and disappointing move, the New South Wales government has announced that a proposed cull of wild horses in the Kosciuszko National Park will be scrapped, and any future cull will be outlawed.

The enormous damage caused by wild horses to the high country is widely documented. It is estimated that around 6,000 wild horses live within the Kosciuszko National Park in NSW. Plans to cull them have been supported by scientists and environmentalists but opposed by people who claim they represent part of the cultural heritage of the mountains. While this is certainly true, they are also massively destructive and a responsible government would be working to reduce their numbers.

Now the NSW government is moving to rule out any culls in the park.

Continue reading “Horse cull to be banned, horses to be ‘built in’ to future planning for Kosciuszko”

Mountain Ash forests facing ‘collapse’

There is ever growing evidence of the impacts of climate change on natural ecosystems. We know that, without meaningful action now, the future of alpine vegetation in Australia doesn’t look good. This is true around the world. For instance, research shows that, in many instances, forests in the western part of the USA are not growing back after wildfire, and warmer temperatures are being blamed.

Here in Australia, longer and hotter summers are increasing the risk of longer fire seasons. Some parts of the Alps have been burnt three times in the space of a decade or so, with resulting impacts on what species grow back.

Continue reading “Mountain Ash forests facing ‘collapse’”

Impacts of Feral Horses on the Bogong High Plains

Feral horses pose a threat to and damage the environmental values of the Victorian alps, including areas of the Bogong High Plains. This impact has been well documented in the past.

To address this threat, Parks Victoria has for some time undertaken a trapping program to reduce the number of horses, and hence the damage they have on sensitive alpine flora and fauna.

A new report has been released based on assessments of impacts on a number of locations across the Bogong High Plains in north eastern Victoria, and how these impacts have changed over the last decade.

Continue reading “Impacts of Feral Horses on the Bogong High Plains”

Parks Victoria seeks feedback on wild horse removal program

Feral horse levels in the Alpine National Park are at critical levels. Their hard hooves cause serious damage to the sensitive alpine environment. Without intervention, their impacts will cause severe long-term harm to the park’s special endangered native alpine wildlife and plant species.

Parks Victoria (PV) is expanding it’s horse removal program in the Eastern Alps and seeks your feedback. Feedback closes on 2 February.

Continue reading “Parks Victoria seeks feedback on wild horse removal program”

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