Search

Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Tag

land management

NSW Parliament to debate the impacts of feral horses

IT’S A PARK, NOT A PADDOCK!

On Thursday August 22 the NSW Parliament will debate the impacts of feral horses on Kosciuszko National Park.

More than 12,000 people signed the petition calling for this debate and it’s now going to happen!

The Parliament will debate repealing the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act and repairing the damage caused by hard-hooved animals. Reclaim Kosci is asking people to join them on the day to show support for this parliamentary debate.

Continue reading “NSW Parliament to debate the impacts of feral horses”

NSW fails to remove horses from Kosciuszko National Park (again)

Like climate change, conservatives are using land management policy as another proxy battlefield in the Culture War.

This is amply demonstrated by the decision by the NSW government to legislate to protect wild horses, a feral species that causes immense damage to the High Country, on the basis of their ‘cultural’ significance. As expected, horse numbers continue to grow in the Kosciuszko National Park and threaten the ecological values of the park. While there had been high hopes that common sense would prevail when Matt Kean, was appointed as the NSW Energy and Environment Minister, attempts to reduce numbers through relocation have failed to be enacted by the state government.

Peter Hannam, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, provides an update on the situation.

Continue reading “NSW fails to remove horses from Kosciuszko National Park (again)”

Snow gum die back linked to climate change

Many people know the story of the Pine beetle which has been devastating huge areas of forest across North America because of climate change.

In brief, the mountain pine beetle’s ability to survive and multiply rapidly is highly sensitive to temperature and precipitation. Warmer average temperatures allow pine beetles to complete their life cycle in just one year instead of two. Rising minimum temperatures in the Colorado Rockies have allowed more beetles to survive the winter and from 2009 to 2010, mountain pine beetle activity increased more than 10-fold, infesting 200,000 acres (80,000 hectares) on the Front Range, and killing off millions of hectares of trees in North America.

There is a similar scenario emerging in Australia’s mountain forests, although it is much less known.

Snow gums are experiencing dieback in Kosciuszko National Park, largely because of the impacts of the native longicorn (or ‘longhorn’) beetle. These beetles prefer to lay their eggs on moisture-stressed trees and, in warmer weather, the longicorn beetle can hatch and grow up to 75% faster.

According to work published in the Resort Roundup winter 2019 edition (produced by the NSW government), ‘reduced snowfall, high summer temperatures such as January 2019 where temperatures at Thredbo top station were 4.4oC above average, and a reduction in autumn rainfall mean that snow gums are under much greater moisture stress than in the past.’ This means that larger beetle populations are causing more frequent dieback of some snow gum trees.

So far, impacts seem to be limited to areas in the Snowy Mountains among two distinct subspecies of snow gum – in the Guthega and Perisher areas and parts of Thredbo. The main species affected is Eucalyptus niphophila. Additionally, the population of Weeping snow gum Eucalyptus lacrimans in the Long Plain area appears to be significantly impacted by longicorn beetle. At this point it does not seem that the infestation is affecting the widespread E. pauciflora subsp. pauciflora.

Apart from the visual and ecological impacts of losing these important trees, increased dieback will lead to an increase in fire risk in alpine resorts and other areas within Kosciuszko National Park. With increasing climate change, it is expected that the longhorn beetle will continue to increase in numbers and therefore its associated impacts on snow gums will also become more extensive.

This is yet another compelling reason for us to be taking serious action to respond to climate change!

Continue reading “Snow gum die back linked to climate change”

Sydney UNDERFROG documentary screening

NSW Nordic Ski Club and Reclaim Kosci are co-hosting a screening of “Underfrog” on Wednesday July 24. The night will be used to increase raise awareness of the feral horse issue in the Snowy Mountains and raise funds for Reclaim Kosci to continue their work. Everyone is welcome. Doors open at 7:00pm for a 7:30pm start. Donations are optional. The film is suitable for all ages.

Continue reading “Sydney UNDERFROG documentary screening”

‘Kosciuszko National Park is lurching towards a crisis’

Wild horse populations pose a significant threat to alpine and sub alpine areas across the Alps. However in NSW, a campaign to have the horses protected because of their ‘cultural’ status means that impacts are growing significantly within Kosciuszko National Park. Now horse removal from the park has stopped for a second year in a row because of an intervention by NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro.

Andrew Cox, the Invasive Species Council CEO, has called this a “shameful back-down for a government claiming to prioritise protection of the environment.”

Continue reading “‘Kosciuszko National Park is lurching towards a crisis’”

National parks need ‘at least one per cent of state expenditure’.

As the issue of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park demonstrates, winning protection of an area in a park is only the first bit of protecting wild places. They need adequate funding to allow land managers to protect their ecological values. This has been highlighted recently by the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA), who have pointed out the many threats to parks (weeds and pest animals such as deer, pigs, foxes and cats, and human visitation, plus climate change).

The Coalition cut funding for parks while they were in power in Victoria and while funding has increased under the current ALP government, the VNPA believes funding needs to double if parks are to be adequately managed.

Continue reading “National parks need ‘at least one per cent of state expenditure’.”

Australia’s conservation reserves under threat from commercialisation

Millions of Australians have worked hard to gain protection of our wild places over many decades. The national parks and other conservation areas that have been created as a result of these efforts protect some of our wildest and greatest landscapes.

In recent years it has become clear that climate change poses a grave – and in some cases existential – threat to many of these places. Then there is the threat of invasive plant and animal species, fragmentation of habitat due to clearing and logging in areas next to reserves, etc.

A more insidious threat has been the slow shift by both state and federal governments to consider, or actively support, commercial operations in our conservation reserves.

This is well underway in Tasmania, with private commercial developments along the Overland Track, and plans for other operations in many parts of the state.

Recent examples include the plan to allow ‘helicopter tourism’ and a small commercial operation inside the Walls of Jerusalem national park in Central Tasmania and a plan to build a cable car into the famous Dove Lake, near Cradle Mountain. In some instances, land is being removed from parks to allow various forms of development.

A recent report shows the scale of this threat.

Continue reading “Australia’s conservation reserves under threat from commercialisation”

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””

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑