Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



Development proposals for wilderness areas have not been disclosed to the public

Many thousands of people campaigned for years to see the best areas of wild Tasmania protected in national parks, World Heritage and other conservation reserves. However, the current state government continues its efforts to open up these areas to commercial development via tourism ventures.

While the plans for a ‘helicopter’ tourism venture at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau has been generating a lot of community opposition, a range of other, lesser known projects are also being pursued by a number of developers.

Emily Baker, reporting for the ABC says that ‘documents obtained by the ABC show the Tasmanian government has received almost 60 proposals for tourism developments in wilderness areas, but only 30 have been disclosed to the public’.

Continue reading “Development proposals for wilderness areas have not been disclosed to the public”

Kooparoona Niara (Great Western Tiers) National Park Proposed

The most recent additions to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) in 2013 included thirty six thousand hectares of land previously allocated to forestry activities, a large number of small Regional Reserves and Conservation Areas, and some other tenures.

The state government is currently proposing that some (not all) of the forestry land be added to existing Regional Reserves and Conservation Areas. There is a chance for the community to provide input. The Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA) is calling on the state government to think big and establish the Kooparoona Niara (Great Western Tiers) National Park.

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‘A dire wake-up call’

Leading scientists working across Australia and Antarctica have described 19 ecosystems that are collapsing due to the impact of humans and warned urgent action is required to prevent their complete loss.

groundbreaking report – the result of work by 38 scientists from 29 universities and government agencies – details the degradation of coral reefs, arid outback deserts, tropical savanna, the waterways of the Murray-Darling Basin, mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and forests stretching from the rainforests of the far north to Gondwana-era conifers in Tasmania.

The scientists recommended a new framework to try to prevent ecosystems collapsing completely that they called the “3As”. It would require a greater awareness of the value of ecosystems, better planning to anticipate risks and rapid action to reduce them.

The report is titled Combating ecosystem collapse from the tropics to the Antarctic.

What does this mean for mountain environments?

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‘Identifying the benefits’ of a new track system in the Tyndall Range

In 2019, the Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman, announced that ‘Tasmania’s wild West Coast’ had been chosen as the preferred location for the state’s next ‘Iconic Walk’.

The area selected is the remote Tyndall Range. This ‘iconic walk’ will be similar to the Overland and Three Capes Tracks, where private hut networks have been built and tours are run by commercial operators. The Range is known for its rock climbing on conglomerate cliffs up to 300m in height, glacial lakes and substantial alpine areas and ‘out of the way’ nature. The plan to introduce a commercial operation is being opposed by many in the community.

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is currently exploring options to develop the walk.  The Project is still in the feasibility study stage. The PWS is seeking community assistance through a survey to ‘identify the benefits’ you think will arise from this project, so that the feasibility study ‘can be as comprehensive as possible’.

Continue reading “‘Identifying the benefits’ of a new track system in the Tyndall Range”

Speak up for the people who manage our parks

Our national parks rely on parks staff on so many levels, from managing tourism to fighting fires. Sadly, in Tasmania, austerity measures have been imposed on Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water & the Environment (DPIPWE) employees, which includes park rangers and other Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) staff.

Please add your voice and oppose the cut backs.

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Public forum: Reclaim Our Reserves!

The Tasmanian Liberal government continues to pursue an agenda that would see national parks and other protected areas opened up to further commercial tourism. After spending decades working to see these areas protected, environmental groups are organised against the many specific proposals. Now there is a growing connection being drawn between the various groups and issues in play across the state.

There will be a public forum in Hobart on December 10 to address the scale of the threats to wild places.

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A Fire Management Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) is a World Heritage Site in Tasmania. It is one of the largest conservation areas in Australia, covering 15,800 km², or almost 20% of lutruwita/ Tasmania. It is also one of the last great expanses of temperate wilderness in the world.

In recent summer’s, significant sections of the TWWHA have been devastated by bushfires. The 2018/19 fires were especially destructive.

Fire is perhaps the greatest challenge for the management of the TWWHA, particularly in the context of climate change. With the September 2020 release by the Parks and Wildlife Service of a range of discussion papers for public comment, the state is moving towards the development of a Fire Management Plan for the TWWHA, as recommended by the 2016 report by Tony Press (Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Bushfire and Climate Change Research Project) and prescribed by the 2016 TWWHA Management Plan. 

How have the papers been received by conservationists?

Continue reading “A Fire Management Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area”

Tasmanian volunteer remote area firefighting teams established

Over the summer of 2018/19, huge fires burnt across Tasmania. An independent review of Tasmania’s management of the summer bushfires was initiated. It makes a series of recommendations for the fire services and government, including a proposal to re-establish a volunteer remote area firefighter group. The report was produced by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC).

Recommendation 2 of the report says:

The Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS) should pursue the creation of a cadre of volunteer remote area firefighters. In doing so the TFS should not consider itself limited to upskilling of current volunteer brigade members, but should carry out a cost benefit analysis of creating one or more remote area firefighting units based in urban areas, in order to tap into the potential of those members of the urban-based Tasmanian community who may have advanced knowledge and skills relating to navigation and survival in wilderness areas.

That group has now been established and is being trained.

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WINTER LIGHT: the Tasmanian mountains in winter

Well known Tasmanian landscape photographer Grant Dixon is launching a new book. Grant has been exploring the Tasmanian wilderness for some 40 years and undertaking trips to the mountains in winter for much of that time, capturing images featuring both grand vistas and intimate details of the winter landscape.

Grant says ‘I’m publishing a high quality, hard cover photographic book in the Tasmanian tradition of fine art productions and of using photography to activate awareness of the environment. The book features 89 images, captured over several decades, of the Tasmanian mountain landscape in winter’.

In his foreword, writer and photographer David Neilson states, “this exceptional collection of alpine images clearly reveals Grant’s outstanding artistic vision. ….. The human spirit desperately needs wilderness and Grant’s photos speak to us passionately of that need.

Grant has organised a pre order crowd fund to print the book. You can buy a copy of the book, please check here for details, and collect in Hobart, or have it posted to you. There are some great images and calendar on offer for people who are able to contribute more.

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Keep the Western Lakes Wild and Public

The proposal for helicopter-accessed luxury huts at Lake Malbena is the test case for more than 30 secret development plans under the current Government’s Expressions of Interest process.

This exclusive and secretive lease of $1,000/year will destroy the serenity and all that is precious about the Western Lakes in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA)

Come along to a public meeting hosted by Fishers and Walkers against helicopter access Tasmania to hear the latest & what we can do about it. Tickets are required (due to Covid) but are free!
Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 2 PM – 4 PM

Continue reading “Keep the Western Lakes Wild and Public”

Fire season outlook good news for the mountains

As landscapes slowly recover after last summer’s terrible fires, which burnt huge sections of the High Country in Victoria, NSW and the ACT, the seasonal fire forecast for spring is much better than this time last year.

The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook: September – November 2020, produced by the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre, paints a welcome picture of a mild season in the South East and lutruwita/ Tasmania. The Outlook is produced quarterly in order to help fire authorities to make strategic decisions for the coming season, such as resource planning and prescribed fire management.

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Cable Car application is ‘incomplete’

The long attempt by a developer to build a cable car up the face of kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, in Hobart continues. The proponent, Mt Wellington Cable Car (MWCC) has submitted it’s Development Application (DA) to Hobart City Council. However local resident’s group Respect the Mountain. No Cable Car say that the DA application is incomplete.

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