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Tasmania

Old forests slow fire

We know that climate change is driving longer and more intense fire seasons. We know that fuel reduction can greatly reduce the spread and intensity of wildfire. However, in extreme fire conditions, the value of fuel reduction burning is reduced, and fires will burn through almost anything, regardless of recent fuel reduction treatment an area may have had. We also know that logging will make forests more flammable because of the loss of more humid micro climates and thick growth of the seedlings that will occur after logging. But we also know that older forests are less fire prone, burn less intensely than regrowth forests, and have the ability to slow down fires as they move through the landscape.

This has been highlighted again in research called Propensities of Old Growth, Mature and Regrowth Wet Eucalypt Forest, and Eucalyptus nitens Plantation, to Burn During Wildfire and Suffer Fire-Induced Crown Death by Suyanti Winoto-Lewin, Jennifer C Sanger and James B Kirkpatrick at the University of Tasmania. It highlights the value of older forests in slowing fire. (Available here).

Continue reading “Old forests slow fire”

The Central Plateau from the air

These images were taken from a lovely 46 minute video of ‘a flight over the Tasmanian Highlands on a mostly sunny autumn afternoon’ from Gary J McArthur (whose account is called Wandering Foxbat). This film is available here. He posts many great videos of flying over Tasmania.

He flies over Mt Roland, down along the western edge of the Central Plateau to the Ducane Range, then north to Cradle Mountain.

I couldn’t resist taking a few images from the video of some of my favourite peaks.

Continue reading “The Central Plateau from the air”

No Fast Track for dodgy developers in Tasmania

The community continues to oppose plans by the Tasmanian government to radically increase private commercial development in the state’s national parks and World Heritage Areas.

However, the government continues to push ahead with it’s anti environment agenda. Now it’s proposed Major Project Legislation is back for a third time and this version should ring alarm bells for everyone concerned about protecting wild places.

Main concerns about the legislation when it comes to wild places like World Heritage Areas include:

  • The Major Projects Bill gives the minister total power to declare a major project which removes it from the normal local council planning process, and virtually any development that would normally go to a local council could be declared a major project.
  • All controversial projects around Tasmania such as the cable car on kunanyi/ Mt Wellington or the Lake Malbena Helicopter proposal could be fast tracked.
  • The community will have no right to appeal against the approval of a major project and will have limited right to have input.

Please make a submission – we have until May 15 2020.

Continue reading “No Fast Track for dodgy developers in Tasmania”

Logging in a time of COVID-19

While we are all patiently sitting at home in order to do our bit and ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 infections, logging continues at full speed in the forests of Victoria. And Tasmania has just signed over up to 356 000 hectares of forests that should be in reserves to now be available for logging.

Continue reading “Logging in a time of COVID-19”

Parks closed during COVID-19 shutdown

WED April 8: As part of the shutdown to help ‘flatten the curve’ and reduce the numbers of C-19 infections, a large number of areas in the High Country are being closed over Easter and beyond.

Government advice continues to be ‘If you can stay home, you must stay home’, meaning no travel for holidays, camping, etc.

VICTORIA

In Eastern Victoria
• Alpine National Park
• Baw Baw National Park
• Howqua Hills Historic Area
• Mount Buffalo National Park

Are all closed from midnight on April 8 ‘until further notice’. Further details here.

NSW

NPWS has closed all campgrounds, camping, on-park accommodation venues and visitor centres in Kosciuszko National Park until further notice.

This includes ‘wild and backcountry camping’ in all national parks.

In line with government restrictions on non-essential travel, the following iconic attractions in Kosciuszko National Park are closed for Easter:

  • The summit of Mount Kosciuszko
  • Thredbo Valley track
  • Kosciuszko Lookout
  • Cootapatamba Lookout

Further information here.

ACT

All visitor facilities within the ACT Parks and Conservation Service managed estate have been closed until further notice in response to a temporary shut-down of non-essential services across the ACT.

To stop the spread of COVID-19, the following facilities are closed to maintain social distancing measures:

  • Tidbinbilla Visitor Information Centre
  • Namadgi Visitor Information Centre
  • Woods Reserve
  • All ACT public campgrounds
  • All playgrounds managed by ACT Parks and Conservation Service

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve will also be closed, along with Namadgi National Park, which remains closed due to safety reasons following the Orroral Valley bushfire

All other parks and reserves across the ACT will remain open providing the community access to nature for recreation, health and wellbeing. Park visitors must observe social distancing whilst visiting parks and reserves. This means keeping 1.5 metres from others, avoiding large groups of people, avoiding peak usage periods and practicing good hygiene always.

Further details here.

TASMANIA

In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe, the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) has closed all national parks and reserves to public recreational use.

The closure of parks and reserves was in line with Tasmanian and Federal government measures to discourage the community from undertaking non-essential travel during this time. These closures include Wellington Park.

This includes:

  • National Parks
  • State Reserves
  • Nature Reserves
  • Game Reserves
  • Conservation Areas
  • Nature Recreation Areas
  • Regional Reserves
  • Historic sites.

All activities including day or overnight walks, mountain biking, hunting, other recreational activities and camping are now closed to the public until further notice.

Further information.

 

 

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!”

Research highlights the fire threat to King Billy Pine

Tasmania is home to a treasure trove of ancient vegetation that emerged when Australia was part of the Gondwanda super continent. Most of the relict vegetation is not fire adapted (fire being a relatively recent arrival to Australia compared to Gondwanaland). Widespread wildfires in early 2016 caused devastating damage across large areas of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, including significant sections of vegetation which is not fire adapted, such as Pencil Pine forests.

At the time, and in follow up investigations, it became clear that increased fire risk due to climate change posed an existential threat to these vegetation types. Now additional research has confirmed the trend towards more extreme fire seasons. It suggests that we reached a ‘tipping point’ sometime around the year 2000and that, since then, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

Research just released through the journal Global Change Biology, titled ‘Population collapse and retreat to fire refugia of the Tasmanian endemic conifer Athrotaxis selaginoides following the transition from Aboriginal to European fire management’ underscores the threat posed to these forest types.

Continue reading “Research highlights the fire threat to King Billy Pine”

Reclaim Malbena Hobart update

The long running attempt by developers to establish a helicopter accessed ‘eco lodge’ on Halls Island in Lake Malbena in Tasmania’s Central Plateau is part of a larger agenda to open up areas of wilderness and World Heritage to new commercial tourism operations.

In December 2019, the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) overturned the Central Highlands Council’s decision to refuse a permit for helicopter-accessed visitor accommodation at Halls Island. There was then a challenge in the Supreme Court, followed by an appeal.

There is still a long way to go before the proposal can proceed, and the community campaign against the proposal keeps growing.

Hobart people are encouraged to attend a public meeting to hear about what’s happening and how to get involved in the campaign against this development. Wednesday February 12.

Continue reading “Reclaim Malbena Hobart update”

Lake Malbena appeal filed in the Supreme Court of Tasmania

There has been a long running attempt to develop a tourism venturein a remote World Heritage Area on Tasmania’s Central Plateau. This would set a worrying precedent for future commercial development in World Heritage and National Parks.

In December 2019, the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) overturned the Central Highlands Council’s decision to refuse a permit for helicopter-accessed visitor accommodation at Halls Island, Lake Malbena, in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. But environmental groups have not given up on this issue.

Continue reading “Lake Malbena appeal filed in the Supreme Court of Tasmania”

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