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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Tasmania

Update on the kunanyi/ Mt Wellington cablecar proposal

Mount Wellington Cableway Company (MWCC) want to build a cablecar up the face of kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, in Hobart. This is being resisted by a determined community based campaign. Things have been a bit quiet of late. Here is an update from Residents Opposed to the Cable Car which highlight some significant shortcomings in the development application for the cablecar proposal.

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Cable car public meeting

Mount Wellington Cableway Company (MWCC) want to build a cablecar up the face of kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, in Hobart. This is being resisted by a determined community based campaign. MWCC have organised two public meetings for South Hobart residents and then cancelled them at the last minute. South Hobart Progress Association have therefore decided to organise their own meeting – focusing on the impact 180,000 extra cars a year will have on South Hobart residents. It will happen on August 24. All welcome.

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‘Eternal vigilance is the price of Freedom’

Tasmania has a world class conservation system. From the South West Wilderness to the Central Plateau, to the Ben Lomond tablelands, it is brimming with wonderful landscapes that are protected as national parks, world heritage or other forms of park. But these parks didn’t just happen. All of them are the result of tireless work by many thousands of people, sometimes over decades.

From the attempts to stop Lake Pedder from being flooded in the 1970s, the Franklin River campaign of the early 1980s, and the long forest campaigns that followed in places like the Styx, the Florentine, Lemonthyme, and the Great Western Tiers, through to the current attempts to ensure proper protection for the Tarkine / takayna region in the north west, people have campaigned for decades to see these areas protected for all time.

Climate change poses an existential threat to many of the natural ecosystems currently protected in the park network. But there is also a pushback by government and some vested interests and sections of the community against the basic notion of protecting these places.

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Documenting Tasmania’s threatened Gondwana vegetation

Fires burnt large areas of Tasmania last summer. A recent independent review of fire fighting efforts found there had been some errors in how fires were tackled, but there were also innovative developments (like using sprinkler systems to fire sensitive vegetation).

We know that significant areas of fire sensitive vegetation were impacted by the fires. We also know that climate change will bring ever more serious fire seasons, putting these remnant vegetation communities at greater risk.

A group of people have banded together to make a film about this endangered vegetation. They say the ‘Tasmanian Gondwana film aims to raise awareness of the extraordinary value and beauty of Tasmania’s unique paleo-endemic communities. It comes in the wake of the 2016 and 2019 wildfires in western Tasmania that threatened and burnt large areas of ancient Gondwanan vegetation’.

They have launched a crowd fund campaign to enable the film to be produced.

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Independent review of the management of 2018/19 Tasmanian fires

Over the summer of 2018/19 huge fires burnt across Tasmania. An independent review of Tasmania’s management of the summer bushfires has just been released. It found inadequacies in the response to a fire burning near Geeveston, and revealed that crews withdrew from the Gell River fire in Tasmania’s southwest in the mistaken belief it was out. The fire then expanded again and became out of control.

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, from the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) also gives an update on the ecological impacts of the fires. An earlier ecological assessment is here.

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Increased bushfire risk the New Normal

Australian summers are getting drier and hotter as the Earth’s temperature rises and this is leading to longer and more intense bushfire seasons. On the mainland, we are seeing more frequent fires in the mountains – for instance, in the Mt Hotham area we have seen three serious fires in less than 15 years, which has devastated huge areas of snow gum and alpine ash forests. Snow gum forests are changing under the onslaught of more frequent fire regimes.

In Tasmania, huge fires burnt across Tasmania for months last summer, threatening fire sensitive communities. More than 100,000 hectares were burnt in Victoria. As is becoming increasingly obvious, this is the ‘new normal’. This has implications for landscapes and water supplies, how we manage fires, and how we live in the landscape. This is happening in forests around the world, and people who have traditionally lived in forested areas are having to re-assess how they can do this safely in a time of heightened fire risk.

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How has Tasmania’s climate changed?

Climate change is already affecting the landscape of Tasmania through more intense fire seasons. This threatens species like the Pencil Pine. In the last few decades, there has been an increase in fires caused by dry lightning strikes, and this has been impacting on vegetation types that are not fire adapted.

A recent review of how much climate change has already impacted on Tasmania highlights how broad these effects are on the landscape.

Erin Cooper, writing for the ABC, identified the following impacts that are being felt in mountain areas.

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New ‘iconic’ walk with private huts planned for Tasmania’s Tyndall Range

Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman has announced that ‘Tasmania’s wild West Coast has been chosen as the preferred location for our Next Iconic Walk’.

The area selected is the remote and wild Tyndall Range. This ‘iconic walk’ will be similar to the Overland and Three Capes Tracks, where private hut networks have been built. The Range is known for its rock climbing on conglomerate cliffs up to 300m in height, glacial lakes and alpine areas and ‘out of the way’ nature.

The government says “A signature Liberal election commitment, up to $20 million will be invested to deliver our next iconic multi-day, hut-based walk which will enhance the visitor economy throughout the entire region”. According to the proponent, the proposal includes the option of “a private walking company .. investing in the development of private lodges similar to that of Three Capes Track”.

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Campaign against Mount Wellington cable car keeps growing

The long campaign against a cable car that has been proposed for kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, in Hobart, has entered a pivotal moment, with the developers having lodged a development application for the proposal.

In response, local group Residents Opposed to the Cable Car has issued a statement outlining how they will be ramping up their campaign against this unpopular and destructive project.

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