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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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national parks

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.”

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Outdoor brands get active to protect wild places

If you enjoy the outdoors – riding, walking, climbing, paddling, skiing – then it makes sense to protect wild places. The most obvious way to do this is to join or support groups working to protect the areas you love. And if you love winter, then its logical to support initiatives to slow climate change.

As individuals we have some power. When we join our efforts with others through working in organisations we increase our influence. When it comes to protecting the environment, another potentially powerful force is business. The outdoor and snow industries in Australia generate billions of dollars of income and employ tens of thousands of people. Yet they are largely missing in action when it comes to protecting the environment.

In some other countries, these industries are stepping up and putting their shoulders to the wheel: with some interesting outcomes.

Continue reading “Outdoor brands get active to protect wild places”

Victoria’s national parks for sale – again

National Parks, World Heritage Areas and other parts of the conservation estate are not simply handed to the community by governments. Wild areas are hard fought for, sometimes for decades, before they gain protection. But once created, that is not the end of the story. Traditionally parks can face a range of problems and pressures, including under funding and over use, and invasion by feral species. In recent years it has become ever more apparent that climate change poses a huge threat to most ecosystems in the country, and hence the integrity of our national parks.

They are sometimes also threatened by proposals for commercial development. The following summary of current threats to national parks in Victoria comes from Phil Ingamells.

Continue reading “Victoria’s national parks for sale – again”

Greater Alpine National Parks Management Plan released

Parks Victoria has released its blueprint for managing and protecting 900,000 hectares of Victoria’s unique alpine and high country over the next 15 years.

The Greater Alpine National Parks Management Plan aims to protect and enhance the outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values of the parks.

Continue reading “Greater Alpine National Parks Management Plan released”

Hound hunting for deer in our Parks?

Anyone who spends time in the High Country has probably seen a deer (or several). While not as well known as wild horses in terms of environmental damage, deer are a real problem for sub alpine environments.

Recreational hunters have often argued that they are a key part of the solution to the deer problem and have recently made these claims in the Victorian parliamentary inquiry that’s currently underway.

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Thirty years of co-operative management of the Alps

National Parks now cover much of the higher terrain in the Australian Alps, from the Baw Plateau to the east of Melbourne, all the way across the mountains almost to the outskirts of Canberra.

Those of us who enjoy these parks owe a great debt to the people who argued for the creation of the reserves in the first place, and to the generations of land managers that have looked after them.

While it is a discrete series of parks in Victoria, NSW and the ACT, there is also overall co-ordination of the parks through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the three state and territory and federal governments.

The MoU has allowed the Australian Alps to be managed co-operatively by the various agencies. Treating the Alps as a single bioregion makes a lot of sense, especially in a time of climate change. Yet like all good government decisions, the concept of co-operative management didn’t just appear. It took decades of work by a range of big picture thinkers and visionaries, and engagement in political processes at many levels that saw the creation of the agreement.

The current version of News from the Alps is dedicated to the co-operative arrangement and includes a potted history of the processes that lead to the signing of the MoU.

Whereas in the early stages after European colonisation, the Alps were seen largely as summer grazing grounds for cattle and sources of wood, gold and other materials, the history in the newsleter makes it clear that there was concern about the state of the Alps from the early to mid 1940s.

Continue reading “Thirty years of co-operative management of the Alps”

Strengthening Parks Victoria – Your vision for parks

Parks Victoria is asking the community to ‘share your experiences, expectations and aspirations for parks’ via a website and series of community forums. This is happening as part of the Strengthening Parks Victoria project.

PV says:

‘As part of the Strengthening Parks Victoria project, we will be looking at your stories, comments, and advice to us, to help better understand what values parks have to you, and what we can do to enhance your enjoyment of Victoria’s incredible natural settings.

This information will help us to celebrate with you the spectacular landscapes, habitats and places we have managed for nearly 20 years, and understand how we must evolve in the future to deliver the best outcomes for Victorians, visitors, our economies, and the incredible Country we care for.’

On their website you can:

Tell PV about how you enjoy and experience Victoria’s parks

Provide ideas on how to improve the experience of visiting parks

Ethics, Culture and Wild Horses

Mountain Journal has often featured pieces on the issue of wild horses in the Australian High Country.

Public debate has hit a recent high point because both Victoria and NSW have updated their positions on horse management, with both states noting the significant negative environmental impacts of this introduced species.

The following article comes from The Conversation, and is by ecologist Don Driscoll who notes that while many in Australia hold a ‘cultural affiliation with horses’ there are other ways to celebrate this connection than ‘by having horses in fragile alpine ecosystems where they cause environmental damage’.

Continue reading “Ethics, Culture and Wild Horses”

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