Published in the Bendigo Advertiser.
Alpine cattle grazing completely deplorable
The Environmental Farmers Network deplores the state government’s decision to return cattle grazing to the Alpine National Park under the banner of scientific research.
The park is on the National Heritage list, meaning this action is in direct conflict with federal law.
Under the Act, any action likely to impact on a matter of national environmental significance must be referred to the federal environment minister.
The cattle were phased out of the park in 2005 because of their impact on the fragile and unique nature of this pristine environment, in particular the sphagnum bogs and endangered plant species.
In what is a scary similarity to Japan’s laughable scientific research propaganda for its whaling program, the state government has adopted a similar ruse to satisfy a careless election promise to re-introduce grazing into the Alpine National Park.
There is more than ample research on the effect of cattle grazing and its effectiveness as a tool in reducing bushfire risk.
Basically all that research says there is no evidence that the cattle assist in any way, as was highlighted in the extensive Esplin Report which followed the 2003 alpine bushfires and by a combined CSIRO, La Trobe University and NSW Department of Environment and Conservation study.
Their findings were that cattle have no influence on the spread of fire.
Many of our farmer members run cattle or have experimented with them in the past.
They are extremely damaging to wetlands, waterways, rivers, dams and any sensitive areas (like sphagnum bogs). These areas need to be excluded from grazing or massive habitat destruction ensues.
Thousands of farmers are involved in Landcare and farming their land sustainably by fencing off waterways to prevent erosion and improve water quality, waterway vegetation and wildlife. State and federal governments provide incentives to encourage this best practice.
By removing cattle from the Alpine National Park, the government has done a similar thing by protecting its waterways or sphagnum bogs from water spoilage and erosion.
To reverse that excellent work is negligent and sends all the wrong messages about best practice to land managers.
The Environmental Farmers Network is a group of farmers dedicated to enhancing our environment. Cattle belong on well-managed farms, not in national parks.
spokesman, Environmental Farmers Network
15 Jan, 2011