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.
In early 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its updated report on the impacts of climate change on natural systems and people around the world. It contained dire warnings for Australia, highlighting the threats to our mountain forests, from Snow Gums and Alpine Ash to the Gondwanic remnants of ancient forests that are holding on in the high country of Tasmania.
We know that time is running out. But we are currently in a federal election campaign where, yet again the main parties mostly act like climate change doesn’t exist as an issue that matters.
Two years on from the horror Black summer fires, the mountains are slowly recovering but its clear that, in many places it will take decades for forests to get re-established. The world is poorer after that summer. And climate change driven fires will continue to drive ecological collapse of snow gum and alpine ash communities and fire sensitive communities in lutruwita/ Tasmania.
In terms of the website, the most visited stories were:
- about plans to allow new commercial tourist developments in World Heritage Areas in Tasmania
- the ever popular Hotham side country guide (visits always start to go up as soon as it starts to get cold – skiers and riders are hopeful people!
- There was sustained interest in stories about First Nations people with connections to the high country like this one and this one about using traditional names for mountains and other landscape features
- The appreciation of Mt Geryon
- The growing problem of dieback affecting snow gum populations (here)
- The ongoing threat of logging in the Dargo High Plains (here). There was a good outcome in 2021, with VicForests announcing it would not proceed with its attempt to push a logging road through a section of the Alpine National Park
We produced a printed magazine last year, and distributed 1,000 copies around the mountains. You can read a pdf of it here.
As we head to winter (probably looking a bit mediocre according to the early forecasts) resorts are getting ready for a busy season. After two years of closures and lockdowns, people are keen to get out. Fingers crossed for a good winter. Might see you at the VIC backcountry festival in September.
ABOVE: the Little Dargo River, currently threatened by logging
ABOVE: Jaithmathang TABOO Senior Elders, Goengalla Jumma Myermyal Minjeke (left) and Goengalla Goro Konermar Wotter with Jaithmathang Bimble in background (‘Bimble’ in Jaithmatang language meaning tribal lands). Mt Loch is within Shared Yerto of the GunaiKurnai and Jaithmathang Original Peoples’ Country. Picture: Georgina Boardman, Mt Hotham Resort Management.
ABOVE: we produced the first annual Mountain Journal magazine.
ABOVE: despite all the madness, we still have the mountains