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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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land management

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.

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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.

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Mount Stirling in 2030 – Draft for Consultation

Mt Buller and Mt Stirling Resort Management and the Mount Stirling Stakeholder Group are preparing a contemporary vision for the Mount Stirling Alpine Resort. Mount Stirling 2030 is a vision that reflects community and stakeholder aspirations, celebrating the social and environmental values of the mountain and addressing challenges of climate change.

Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management seeks your feedback on Mount Stirling 2030, which is being prepared to guide future management decisions for the Mount Stirling Alpine Resort.

The consultation period is open between Monday 18 December 2017 and 5pm Sunday 21 January 2018.

Continue reading “Mount Stirling in 2030 – Draft for Consultation”

Victorian Government moves on invasive animals

Wild deer cause massive damage across the Alps and many other forested parts of south eastern Australia. The Victorian Government has accepted most of the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into the Control of Invasive Animals on Crown Land. Significantly, the government has acknowledged that recreational hunting is generally an ineffective means of invasive animal control and announced that feral cats will be declared pest animals on public land, allowing more effective control programs.

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Myrtle Rust – an emerging threat to plant communities

People who have walked in Tasmania are probably familiar with the threat posed by Phytophthora, a fungus that attacks the roots of susceptible plants, in many cases killing the plants. In some native plant communities, epidemic disease can develop causing the death of large numbers of plants.

The fungus is now well established in many areas of moorland, heathland and dry eucalypt forest in Tasmania.

Continue reading “Myrtle Rust – an emerging threat to plant communities”

NSW Parks Service staff: a threatened species?

We need national parks. Primarily they exist to protect wild nature. But many of them provide wonderful opportunities for outdoor pursuits, recreation, relaxation and solitude.

But national parks need staff. To manage the land, control weeds and invasive species of animals, manage for fire, provide interpretation and education, look after visitors and park infrastructure like tracks and other facilities.

Sadly in NSW, the state government is carrying out a major ‘restructure’ of the Parks Service which, according to the Public Service Association (the public sector union representing Parks employees) “will cuts jobs and push hundreds and hundreds of years of experience out the door.”

Continue reading “NSW Parks Service staff: a threatened species?”

Falls Creek Hawkweed Eradication Program Volunteer Surveys.

As you may know, Hawkweeds are a highly invasive pest plant species which could cause major environmental damage in alpine and sub-alpine areas of Australia if not eradicated early.

For several years there have been summer field trips where volunteers join with Parks Victoria to identify and remove Hawkweed from the Bogong High Plains. They will be on again this summer and you can register now.

Continue reading “Falls Creek Hawkweed Eradication Program Volunteer Surveys.”

Increased fire frequency is changing snow gum forest structure

Mountain Journal has often reported on the impacts of climate change enhanced fire seasons on the mountains of Australia and, in particular, on plant species.

The iconic mountain species of the mainland, the Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora), has been hammered in recent decades by multiple fires, often with small gaps between fires.

MJ previously reported on work carried out by researchers from Melbourne University who found that ‘over 90% of the Victorian distribution of snow gums has been burned at least once since 2003. What is of greater concern though, is that each of the large fires of the last 15 years has overlapped to some extent, leaving thousands of hectares of snow gums burned by wildfire twice, and sometimes three times’.

They went on to say that higher incidences of bushfires, which are likely due to climate change, are devastating for the usually fire-tolerant snow gums of southern Australia.

Now an updated version of their work has been published in the Journal of Vegetation Science which delves into whether these more frequent and severe fires are leading to higher death rates of individual trees (individual snow gums have the ability to regrow after fire from ground level regrowth – called basal resprouts – but may also be killed). This work was carried out by Tom Fairman, Lauren Bennett, Craig Nitschke, and Shauna Tupper.

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Fears over Snowy River’s health without independent monitor

The Snowy Mountains scheme, built between 1949 and 1974, diverts the water of the Snowy River and some of its tributaries, much of which originally flowed southeast onto the river flats of East Gippsland, inland to the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers irrigation areas. This has caused the health of the Snowy to decline dramatically.

Following long running campaigns, the Snowy Water Inquiry was established in January 1998. The Inquiry recommended an increase to 15% of natural flows. In 2000, Victoria and NSW agreed to a long-term target of 28%, requiring A$375 million of investment to offset losses to inland irrigators. It has been hoped that this increase in flow will help the health of the river system improve.

However there have been ongoing fears that the flows are not being properly managed in a way that will maximise environmental benefits. In 2013, the NSW Government abolished the Snowy’s scientific monitor and a replacement body, announced in 2014, has not yet been established. As pointed out recently by ecologists, without an independent monitor, there is a risk that the health of the river will go backwards.

Continue reading “Fears over Snowy River’s health without independent monitor”

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