Search

Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Mountain Journal print edition #1 now available

The Mountain Journal website started back in the summer of 2010. Inspired by great magazines like Mountain Gazette, the plan had always been to produce a print version. But I never got around to it – until now!

The first print edition is hot off the press, and will be (covid lockdowns permitting) surfacing in cafes, mountain huts and public spaces across the Alps soon.

You can read the journal as a PDF here, but if you enjoy print, I can also post you a copy.

Continue reading “Mountain Journal print edition #1 now available”

Featured post

An Icon at Risk: current and emerging threats to the Victorian Alps

Snow Gums (Eucalyptus pauciflora) are the classic alpine tree of the High Country, generally growing at heights between 1,300 and 1,800 metres asl. Anyone who has visited the Australian High Country will know – and probably love – these trees.

In recent decades, wildfire has been devastating huge areas of the Snow Gum forests, with significant fires in the Victorian High Country in 1998, 2002/3, 2006/7, 2013 and 2019/20. More than 90% of Snow Gum habitat has been burnt at least once in the last 20 years.

The species can survive fire. However, climate change driven fire seasons are leading to more frequent fire, which is causing more death of trees and changes to forest structure. In some instances, localised collapse of Snow Gum woodlands is now being observed. As climate scientist Michael Mann describes it, we are now seeing climate change play out in real time.

We must ask whether we are now seeing the start of the collapse of Snow Gum woodlands, one of Victoria’s iconic vegetation communities.

Continue reading “An Icon at Risk: current and emerging threats to the Victorian Alps”
Featured post

This election, vote for the mountains

Global temperatures have risen about 1C since 1900, overwhelmingly due to greenhouse gas emissions. In Australia, the average increase has been 1.4C. It has been linked to unprecedented bushfires, rainfall events that have caused catastrophic flooding and four mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef since 2016. Skiers and riders know that this has already had a negative impact on our snowpack, which has been in decline since the 1950s.

We know that national leadership on climate change has faltered under the Coalition. The federal election is an important opportunity to demand that all parties commit to decisive action to reduce emissions, and hence play our part in protecting winter.

Continue reading “This election, vote for the mountains”

High Country logging unites graziers, green groups in effort to save Little Dargo River

The unburnt areas of the Victorian high country are increasingly rare and incredibly precious.

One of these areas lies in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River, just south of Mt Hotham. It is a pristine area, without roads, and containing mature forest, much of it dominated by Alpine Ash.

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes,” or sections, of mature forest in the upper Little Dargo River, probably this spring.

This morning, ABC Radio National described the alliance that has formed to protect the Little Dargo River and surrounding areas.

Continue reading “High Country logging unites graziers, green groups in effort to save Little Dargo River”

Longer fire seasons in the USA spell trouble for Australia

After a terrible fire season in the last northern summer, the USA experienced fires right through winter and now, in spring, fires are raging across significant sections of the country.

In New Mexico, a fire has already burnt more than 80,000 ha. It has destroyed nearly 200 homes and led to the evacuation of thousands of families. US Forest Service firefighters say they have lost some ground in their efforts to contain the blaze.

Like in Australia, the USA relies on having enough large air tankers and helicopters to contain fires. However, we currently lease most of these aircraft from North America. As fire seasons in the northern hemisphere grow longer, it will get harder and more expensive to lease aircraft for our summers.

It’s time for Australia to establish a publicly owned air fleet, as was recommended by the Bushfire Royal Commission.

You can support the call for a publicly owned air fleet here > https://www.foe.org.au/firefighting

The rise of the ‘terafire’.

We are hearing ever more frequent mention of ‘Megafires’. The word is an emerging concept commonly used to describe fires that are extreme in terms of size, behaviour, and/or impacts.

In describing ‘Megafires’, it is clear that fire size thresholds vary round the world from > 100 to more 100,000 ha. In Australia, a mega fire year is defined as the cumulative burned area of forest over one year of more than 1 million hectares. Fires greater than 100,000 hectares have also been increasing – check this list for details.

Continue reading “The rise of the ‘terafire’.”

More mountain forests at risk from logging

In February 2022, VicForests released its proposed 2022 Timber Release Plan (TRP). The TRP outlines the forest areas it intends to log. Community groups are able to submit submissions to the process, but TRPs are generally then ‘rubber stamped’ despite calls for specific high conservation areas to be protected. The comment period for the TRP has now closed.

While there were very significant forests in the Central Highlands and South Gippsland scheduled for logging (such as at Tanglefoot picnic ground in Toolangi, the Wallaby catchment in the Kinglake National Park, Snobs Creek Valley, a large coupe near Noojee, and 14 coupes between Cambarville and Matlock), there are also a number of areas proposed for logging in the high country.

Continue reading “More mountain forests at risk from logging”

Mountain Journal turns 12

While 2022 feels like our first ‘normal’ year since the pandemic started, the ‘new normal’ of climate change has become incredibly obvious over the past few years. After a horror summer over 2019/20, fires burnt in the northern hemisphere through their summer and into winter, with fire authorities in places like California warning that they no longer experience fire seasons, and that large fires can occur year round. In the past southern summer, much of the east coast was hammered by terrible floods, and WA faced an awful fire season. Here in the south the mountains were green, although in lutruwita/ Tasmania a series of fires burnt in World Heritage Areas, sparked by lightning and flourishing in the dry conditions.

A reflection on another year of Mountain Journal can be found here.

A solo journey through the Alps

The Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) is the premier long distance trail through the Australian mountains. Stretching about 680 km from Walhalla in Victoria, it passes through the Alpine National Park in Victoria, Kosciusko National Park in NSW and finally into Namadgi National Park in the ACT. Alicia Crossley recently walked it solo. This is her reflection.

Continue reading “A solo journey through the Alps”

The Victorian Backcountry festival is back for 2022

After two disappointing winters, where the Backcountry Festival had to go on line, we are excited to announce that planning is well underway for a big gathering at Mt Hotham this year.

The 2022 festival will happen over three days in early September (2, 3, and 4). It has been extended to three days to allow people to attend more tours and workshops.

Continue reading “The Victorian Backcountry festival is back for 2022”

Protect our Winters calls for climate action

KEEN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Protect our Winters (POW) Australia is looking for local organisers in each resort and nearby towns to host a gathering on Saturday June 11th 2022 to help #welcomebackwinter

WHAT? Join us in a major mobilisation of the snow sports community on opening weekend in June.

Continue reading “Protect our Winters calls for climate action”

There is still time to protect the Little Dargo

The fires of 2019/20 burnt huge areas of north eastern Victoria. The remaining unburnt forests are more important than ever. One of these areas lies in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River, just south of Mt Hotham. It is a pristine area, without roads, and containing mature forest, much of it dominated by Alpine Ash. It is an area of state forest that lies right next to the Alpine National Park.

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes”, or sections, of mature forest in the upper Little Dargo River, probably this spring. These coupes are located in a series of clusters, where separate sections of bush will be harvested, creating a large zone of cleared land over time. Extensive roading networks will be needed to access the coupes.

One coupe has already been logged. The remaining coupes have not yet been scheduled for harvesting. There is still time to stop this ecological disaster – if we act now.

Continue reading “There is still time to protect the Little Dargo”

Forum: Threatened species and fire recovery

Upper Ovens Landcare are hosting a one day forum with the focus of ‘sharing stories from the Upper Ovens Valley’ about species recovery after fire. It will be held at  Dingo Dell, Mt Buffalo national park on Saturday 30 April 2022.

Continue reading “Forum: Threatened species and fire recovery”

Another year. Still no national air fleet.

Aerial firefighting capacity – planes and helicopters – are an essential component of Australia’s ability to respond to bushfires. This was demonstrated in the 2019-2020 bushfire season, when an unprecedented use of aircraft occurred. This summer was mild in the east but Western Australia saw months of terrible fires.

Australia has a nationally co-ordinated fleet of about 150 planes and helicopters in an average fire season (with up to 500 aircraft available on call when needed). These are used for firefighting, winching fire crews into remote areas, intelligence gathering and guiding larger aircraft in their operations (called Air Attack Supervision).

Continue reading “Another year. Still no national air fleet.”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑