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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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land management

‘Australia’s Environment Report’ identifies impacts on alpine areas

The annual Australia’s Environment Report summarises a large number of observations on the trajectory of our natural resources and ecosystems. It is prepared by the Centre for Water and Landscape Dynamics at the Australian National University (ANU).

As part of their report for 2019, they prepared an assessment of alpine areas. With hot weather, terrible fires, and dry conditions we already know how bad summer was for the mountains. This report quantifies some of the impacts.

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Malbena Rally: Rewild Launceston!

The long campaign against commercial tourist developments in national parks and World Heritage Areas continues.

A flash point  in this campaign is the ‘eco tourism’ development planned for Lake Malbena will introduce ‘helicopter tourism’ to the central plateau of Tasmania. Approvals have been ‘waved through’ by the federal government, and then been bogged down in legal processes.

To highlight opposition to ‘helicopter tourism’, The Wilderness Society and Walkers and Fishers Against Helicopter Access Tasmania have organised a rally in Launceston on Sunday April 5.

Continue reading “Malbena Rally: Rewild Launceston!”

Global warming played a ‘big role’ in generating heat waves that fueled the 2019-2020 fire season

This summer’s fires had devastating impacts on landscapes and local economies.

For the first time in eight months, all the NSW fires are out. The Namadgi fires are out, as are the fires in north east Victoria and East Gippsland. During the fires, there was an attempt by some groups to blame the fires on arson as a way of avoiding the conversation about climate change. There is the ongoing debate about the role of fuel reduction burning as a way to reduce the intensity of fire, plus the broader conversation about how we manage our forests and wild places, and whether salvage logging of burnt areas should be allowed.

Now, a ground-breaking report has shown that climate change was a ‘massive factor’ in the extreme fire conditions that devastated Australia this summer.

The report was prepared by World Weather Attribution (WWA), which ‘is an international effort to analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events, such as storms, extreme rainfall, heatwaves, cold spells, and droughts’.

Continue reading “Global warming played a ‘big role’ in generating heat waves that fueled the 2019-2020 fire season”

Is road safety work also ‘logging by stealth’?

Following this summer’s devastating fires in East Gippsland, it has taken enormous effort by the authorities to get roads re-opened and made safe. Removal of many thousands of fire affected trees is essential for the safety of road users. However, the scale of the clear felling of large habitat trees occurring along thousands of kilometres of East Gippsland’s roads has disturbed many people.

Residents describe ‘unprecedented clearing’ occurring around Buchan, Black Mountain, Combienbar, Orbost, Goongerah, Cann River, Mallacoota, Cape Conran, state forests inland from Bairnsdale, along the Great Alpine Way and many other fire affected roads in East Gippsland.

Continue reading “Is road safety work also ‘logging by stealth’?”

Warburton residents call for halt to logging proposal on Mt Bride

Community members from Warburton are attempting to stop the proposed logging coupes on and surrounding Mt Bride.

They say that “logging this area will reduce water security as the proposed coupes are within water catchment areas and it has long been recognised that logging has a negative impact on water yield”.

They also say that the coupes will increase fire risk, “as the micro climatic conditions will dry out the understory and the regrowth saplings will create more fuel”.

Continue reading “Warburton residents call for halt to logging proposal on Mt Bride”

Do we need a new remote area volunteer firefighting force?

On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2019, a front brought a smattering of rain across the Victorian mountains, barely enough to damp down the dust. But the associated lightning storm started dozens of new fires in a long belt from Mt Buller to the NSW border.

Forest Fire Management crews swung into action and many of these were quickly put out. Aerial bombing dealt with others. But there were simply too many, and some grew into massive blazes, including some that went on to devastate the forests and landscapes of East Gippsland in coming weeks.

This raises the question: Do we need a new remote area volunteer firefighting force in Victoria who could help suppress lightning strike fires before they take off?

Continue reading “Do we need a new remote area volunteer firefighting force?”

Track works on Mt Stirling summit to protect the Stirling tree

On Mt Stirling in north eastern Victoria’s High Country, there is a lone snow gum, which is several hundred years old. Earlier this year, someone heavily pruned branches from the tree, which sparked a debate about access to the mountain top.

There is a 4WD track over the alpine area of the summit. This year the Howqua Gap Track will open to the public who want to drive over the mountain from 29 November through to early May. Many people drive over the mountain during summer months, and sometimes there is poor behaviour from drivers, who take their vehicles off track. Some trail bike riders also take their bikes offtrack to the summit. This has environmental impacts and reduces the experience that many other visitors are seeking in exploring the mountain. As a result, some additional track works and signage has now been put in place. It is a shame that poor behaviour by a few has resulted in additional works needing to be carried out on the mountain.

Continue reading “Track works on Mt Stirling summit to protect the Stirling tree”

Re-homing not enough to stop Kosciuszko’s feral horse crisis

Like climate and energy policy in Australia, the alpine environment of the Snowy Mountains has fallen victim to a bizarre culture war. Conservative political parties have pandered to small groups of backwards looking constituencies, and ignored their obligations to the broader community. In the case of the Snowy Mountains, the NSW Coalition have sided with groups who think that wild horses have a cultural value that trumps their negative ecological impacts. So they have declared that feral horse populations should be protected and allowed to keep growing in numbers within the park. As a result, there has been no trapping of feral horses in the park since August 2017.

This is a poor decision on ecological grounds, and a major campaign has been mounted against this decision. Now the state government has ‘blinked’ and said they will start to remove some horses from Kosciuszko National Park and ‘rehouse’ them. However, the Invasive Species Council has warned that this plan will ‘barely make a dint in the growing number of feral horses running rampant in the park’.

The following media release comes from the Reclaim Kosci group:

Continue reading “Re-homing not enough to stop Kosciuszko’s feral horse crisis”

NSW Parliament petition highlights government inaction on Kosci horses

The NSW government’s Wild Horse Heritage Act has undermined 75 years of protection of water and alpine species by treating wild horse populations as a cultural icon that must be protected. Now, the repeal of the Act is is being debated by the NSW parliament following the tabling of a petition of more than 12,000 signatures.

While scientists and land managers are clear in pointing out the negative impacts of the horses, the NSW government has chosen to put politics over sensible land management decision making. The original Bill was proposed by the National Party. The current debate highlights the tension in the Coalition, whereby at least some in the Liberal Party can see the dangers of allowing wild horse populations to flourish in our alpine regions. However, Deputy Premier John Barilaro used the government’s majority to vote against the petition being ‘noted’.

Continue reading “NSW Parliament petition highlights government inaction on Kosci horses”

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