If you’re interested in the future of the alpine resorts in the NSW mountains and how they interact with the surrounding environment, you currently have an opportunity to comment on the management plan.

The Parks Service says:

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is looking at better ways to measure and regulate the environmental carrying capacity of alpine resorts in Kosciuszko National Park. Currently, carrying capacity is addressed using ‘bed limits’.

This may lead to an amendment of the Kosciuszko National Park plan of management and changes to the way new development proposals are initiated and managed in the alpine resort areas of Thredbo, Charlotte Pass, Perisher Range and Selwyn. NPWS is seeking feedback on your initial ideas and concerns. Further opportunities to provide input will be provided later in the year.

The current plan of management recognises that opportunities should be available to modernise the resorts and improve visitor facilities while protecting environmental values. One way of achieving these twin objectives is to apply the concept of carrying capacity.

The ‘environmental carrying capacity’ of an area is the scale of human activity that can occur without degrading the environment beyond an acceptable level.

In this sense, the ‘environment’ includes biological, physical and social factors. For example, waterways, wildlife, habitats, landscapes, cultural heritage, sustainability outcomes (for waste, energy, recycling) and visitor experiences.

Currently, carrying capacity in alpine resorts is primarily addressed by the plan of management setting limits on the number of people that can stay overnight in each resort area – this is referred to as ‘bed limits’ or ‘bed numbers’. Other thresholds are set by other laws for specific issues such as threatened species management and pollution prevention.

The plan of management acknowledges that the relationship between bed numbers and the environmental health of the resort areas is unclear. Bed numbers on their own do not tell us about the quality of water in streams, the impacts of visitors on native plants and animals, the condition of walking or cycling tracks, visual amenity, or the quality of visitors’ experiences.

In recognition of these shortcomings, the plan of management commits NPWS to look at alternative ways to measure and regulate carrying capacity in the alpine resorts.

Based on current best practice, NPWS is exploring options to move towards a performance-based approach to measuring and managing environmental carrying capacity in the alpine resorts.

A performance-based approach focuses on the condition of the environment, rather than rules around what can and cannot occur, for example by specifying the required outcomes for native vegetation condition and extent.

You can provide feedback here.

Submissions are open until March 14.

We will compile a set of ideas that may assist in writing a submission. If you would like a copy of this please email cam.walker@foe.org.au