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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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ski resorts

Bringing the Mountain Pygmy Possum back from the brink

The Mountain Pygmy Possum (MPP) is Australia’s only hibernating marsupial. It has been declared by the IUCN Redlist as being Critically endangered. In 2000, the population estimate was less than 2,000 individuals from the three combined isolated populations that exist across the Australian Alps.

A number of ski resorts have been running possum recovery programs. They are delivering some excellent results and represent true good news stories for this critically endangered species.

Georgina Boardman is the Technical Services and Environment Officer at the Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board, where she and the rest of the Environmental Team work to protect the Mountain Pygmy Possum population on the mountain.

You can read about her story and work to protect the possum here.

Climate change will make snow a ‘premium product’ like ‘fine wine’

Climate change poses an existential threat to the ski industry in Australia. A recent report commissioned by the Victorian government suggests that the end of natural snow could be as close as a couple of decades.

As noted by Adam Carey in The Age, without serious action to tackle climate change, ‘the likeliest outcome is that Victoria’s snow resorts will gradually close, until just one or two remain in business by mid-century, offering an increasingly rarefied experience’.

You would think that people who earn their living from snow would be paying attention to what is happening and perhaps even playing their part to reduce emissions.

Apparently not.

Continue reading “Climate change will make snow a ‘premium product’ like ‘fine wine’”

Report into climate impacts on Victorian resorts

There is no doubt that climate change is already impacting on snow conditions in Australia, and hence impacting on the industries that need snow to be viable. When it comes to responding to this existential threat, there are three key options: ignore it (in the hope it will go away), reduce our contribution to the problem (also called mitigation) or just try to adapt to the changes that the problem brings (also known as adaptation). With few exceptions, ski resorts in Australia have opted for the first and the third options. A sensible, responsible and forward thinking ski industry would be doing both adaptation and mitigation.

A report released by the Victorian government will help local resorts steer themselves along the path of adaptation.

Continue reading “Report into climate impacts on Victorian resorts”

Climate change impacts on resorts – and how they’re taking action to reduce emissions

We all know that climate change poses an existential threat to the snow and alpine environments that we love. While Australia’s lower mountains and modest latitude make it something of a miracle that we even have snow, there is little doubt that already our seasons are getting shorter, with less snow (our snow pack has been in decline since 1957).

But it is disturbing to see the impacts that are happening elsewhere, in countries at higher latitudes and with higher peaks. This recent story sums up some of what’s happening in North America, and how some resorts are responding.

Continue reading “Climate change impacts on resorts – and how they’re taking action to reduce emissions”

The economic impacts of climate change on winter sports

Protect Our Winters has released an update of it’s report ‘the economic contributions of winter sports in a changing climate’. It is yet another reminder about the economic benefits of the snow industry, both in local economies and at the national level, and the threat posed by climate change to this economic activity.

Continue reading “The economic impacts of climate change on winter sports”

Baw Baw resort installs ‘snow factory’

Mt Baw Baw is adding a snow factory to guarantee snow for the 2018 season. It’s a TechnoAlpin Snow Factory 100 R717 and is currently being installed. Mt Buller introduced one last year and Buller Mountain Manager Nick Reeves told SnowAction it was a ‘game changer’, allowing ‘skiing right from the get go of the season’ (although a problematic side issue is that the mountain doesn’t have enough water supplies for snow making, resulting in plans for a destructive new dam).

General Manager of Baw Baw resort, John Fascio, says that the factory will allow their snow season to open earlier than the usual Queen’s Birthday weekend. “We’re targeting June 1st, everything going well”.

It’s not clear whether the factory will be run off renewable or dirty electricity.

[IMAGE: Mt Baw Baw resort]

Which resorts have been most impacted by climate change?

The Climate Council has released a report which outlines the likely impacts of climate change on tourism in Australia.

The section on the snow sports industry confirms what we already know: that climate change will have significant impacts on the economics of the sector, with resulting loss of jobs and local businesses. It highlights the fact that despite attempts to broaden activity at ski resorts into the ‘green season’, a large proportion of income is still derived during winter and hence there are limitations to how resorts can buffer against bad winters.

In Victoria, Mt Stirling and Mt Buller have been most affected by shorter ski seasons.

Continue reading “Which resorts have been most impacted by climate change?”

Lake Tahoe Resort to run on 100% Renewables

Next winter, Squaw Valley Ski Corporation, who have two resorts at Lake Tahoe in California, plans to source all its electricity from solar and other renewable sources. This will make it the first ski resort in the USA to power its operations without fossil fuels.

Continue reading “Lake Tahoe Resort to run on 100% Renewables”

‘Ski resorts cling on against climate change’

Mountain Journal often covers developments in the snow industry relating to climate change – both in terms of the expected impacts of global warming on snow and resorts, and positive responses by resorts to reduce their emissions.

As we know, action here in Australia by resorts is sketchy at best and most are still in denial about the reality of the change that is coming.

This recent piece by Bob Berwyn from Deutsche Welle (Germany’s international broadcaster) looks at the limitations of relying on artificial snow making as a buffer against climate change. Looking mostly at Europe, the key message is really just common sense – it will be the lower altitude resorts that will be hit first. That’s directly applicable to the reality that Australian resorts face given our low elevation mountains and moderate latitudes.

Continue reading “‘Ski resorts cling on against climate change’”

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