The Victorian government has announced that it is intending to introduce charges for overnight hiking and camping in more than 100 of our state and national parks. (Oct 2013)

a grand plan for East Gippland’s forests

A proposal for a complete ‘sea to snow’ megalinkage of existing national parks.

Extending the Alpine National Park to Baw Baw

The concept of a continuous alpine national park stretching from the Great Divide west of Canberra all the way to Victoria’s Baw Baw Plateau was first outlined nearly forty years ago when the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) produced its viewpoint publication on the High Country. Unfortunately, while this vision has mainly been realised, there still exists a major gap in the west with the alpine reserves of the Baw Baw National Park and the Mt Skene Natural Features and Scenic Reserve being isolated from the Alpine National Park to the east.

The Alps/ South East Forests World Heritage nomination proposal

This article is from Phil Ingamells

The Victorian Alps

The remarkable shrinking alps plan! [June 2010]

There has never been more hoo-haa from Parks Victoria over the development of a management plan, and never such an unpromising result, as their draft of their alpine parks management plan.

Parks Victoria (PV) is good at international posturing, with its mega Healthy Parks Healthy People Congress and all the rest, but it has a less than admirable record with ecological management, and this “plan” is a new low.

We can give points to Parks Victoria for effort on this one, but they get close to zero for integrity from me, and I’ve not said that about any Government body before.

They started well.

In August 2008, Parks Victoria distributed a project brief for a consultancy to review the “style and content” of future park management plans. That brief established that the “updated contemporary standards” for a management plan will “link management effectiveness, monitoring and reporting and actively describe levels of protection and levels of service and accommodate new issues”.

The consultancy (Kismet Forward) heroically interviewed PV and DSE staff, and a range of stakeholders, including the VNPA, and produced a report with a largely undigested, spectacular range of views. But it included, from DSE, the clear statement that management plans:
“need to articulate accountability, provide certainty and clarity about what can/cannot happen in a park, and be supported by measurable objectives and actions. They enable park managers to get on and manage the park rather than having to continually resolve planning issues.”

And then:
“The management plan should be about ‘what’ should happen in the park, while the implementation plan should be about ‘how’ and ‘when’ the ‘what’.”

This advice from DSE is not just the wishful thinking of another stakeholder. The National Parks Act requires the Secretary of DSE (who effectively contracts PV to manage our parks) to ensure each national park is managed to preserve and protect the park in its natural condition, and to “have regard to all classes of management actions that may be implemented for the purposes of maintaining and improving the ecological function of the park etc.”

The consultation process then grew to epic proportions.

PV contracted a literature search of alpine science, set up a very well-qualified scientific advisory panel, re-established the Alpine Advisory Committee (required by law to advise on any alps management plan), ran a series of community workshops around the State and, neither last nor least, set up their innovative “weplan” wiki website so everyone could have a say.

And what did we get after that.

The management plans of the Alpine, Mount Buffalo, Baw Baw, Snowy River and Errinundra national Parks,  the Avon Wilderness and a series of adjacent historic areas, which totaled some 1,500 pages, have been amalgamated and reduced to a scant 53 pages. The draft (hopefully what I have is only a “preliminary” draft) has no measurable targets and no timelines for action. It reads partly as a description of the region and what happens there, and partly a vague wish list of management possibilities.

Most parks other than the Alpine National Park scarcely rate a mention. And the plan for managing the much vexed feral horse problem in the Alpine N. P. (the population has exploded despite calls for action in the previous plan) is now to “develop a strategy”.

I’m not sure where we can go from here, but Parks Victoria’s carefully polished reputation might be cracking up on this one.

You can leave your thoughts on the website (scroll down to find the alps section), or just write to Parks Victoria.

Phil Ingamells.
This was originally published in Parkwatch, the magazine of the Victorian National Parks Association.