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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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activism

A chance to influence Victoria’s climate policy

We all know that climate change poses an existential threat to mountain environments. For instance, the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it clear there are serious threats to animals and vegetation across Australian mountain environments.

Climate change is a global problem and requires a global response. All countries must do their part to reduce emissions. It is the same at the state level (especially given the failure of the federal Coalition to act on climate change). There is an important opportunity to influence the Victorian government on its emission reduction targets. But we have less than a week to do so.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The 10th Mountain Climate Project

The 10th Mountain huts are a remarkable network of backcountry huts spread through the mountains of the Rocky Mountains of Central Colorado. They have long been famous among backcountry skiers and riders. Using the network of huts, it is possible to ski from Aspen to Vail (a distance of roughly 150 kilometres, depending on which route you take) and from near Edwards all the way to Leadville. Check here for a Mountain Journal story on the network and backcountry touring in the Central Rockies.

Built over several decades the huts are mostly log cabins, with bunks, lovely communal spaces, and well fitted out kitchens. They have micro solar systems for lighting. 10th Mountain is a not for profit organisation and huts are booked online. They are popular both in winter for skiing/ splitboarding and summer for mountain bike riding.

Last winter they launched a climate project.

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New year, old issues 

As we move into a new year, things are looking good in the mountains. A second mild and wet spring has led to a mild summer, with no significant fires in mountain areas so far (there were two fires in lutruwita/ Tasmania earlier in the season – at Mt Rufus and the Eldon Range). As heatwaves bake much of the north and west of the continent, the mountains of the south east and lutruwita/ Tasmania are a cool refuge from the heat. As always there is so much to do and wonderful places to visit. And, as always, there are threats to the mountains that we will have to deal with this year.

Here’s some of them:

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Snow Gum citizen science field trip – January 2022

Snow Gums face a massive threat from the spread of dieback which is caused by a native beetle – and also super charged by climate change, and localised collapse of snow gum woodlands due to more frequent fires.

Last winter Friends of the Earth (FoE) published An Icon at Risk, which considers the many threats to the mountains of north east Victoria (the report is available here).

FoE will be hosting a field trip to map impacts of fire over four days in January 2022 in the Mt Hotham region.

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The Backcountry Film Festival is back. DEC 3 – 13

Presented by Winter Wildlands Alliance each year, the Backcountry Film Festival screens stories of outdoor stewardship, grassroots policy and advocacy work, backcountry adventure, and snow cinema by human-powered advocates, athletes, activists, and outdoor enthusiasts.

The 2022 season festival will run early, from DEC 3 – 13, 2021 and features 14 films over two hours.

The festival is shown around the world. In Victoria, Friends of the Earth is the local host.

Due to the difficulty of finding a suitable cheap venue, this year we are screening the festival as an online event.

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Giving back to the Alps

Most of Australia’s High Country is now protected in parks. While there are significant pressures on many of these – for instance plans for a major expansion of commercial development in Kosciuszko national park, and tourism development in wild areas in lutruwita/ Tasmania – there is also the existential threat posed by climate change.

On a day to day basis our parks are generally underfunded and so the Parks Services struggle to deal with invasive species and the impacts of tourism. We need to increase funding across the board for our parks services.

There are also many options to directly support the ecological integrity of our mountain areas through hands on volunteer work. As author Alice Walker puts it nicely, ‘Activism is my rent for living on the planet’, and there are many ways to get involved in hands on efforts in and around the Alps. Here are a few ideas.

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Tourism & outdoor industry stands up for forests

The forests of north east Tasmania are like nowhere else on Earth. From the glacial refugia forests of the Blue Tier holding the tallest flowering plants on earth, to the Gondwanic remnant forests around the Blue Derby mountain bike trails, these forests are under increasing threat from logging.

The campaign to protect these forests in recent times has been driven by locals involved in ecotourism and outdoor adventures like mountain bike riding. It has been a great example of people standing up for the places that they love.

Last week, more than 160 other tourism bodies, signed an open letter to the State Premier, the Minister for Tourism, Hospitality and Events and the Minister for Climate Change regarding the economic and environmental implications of logging carbon-rich Gondwana remnant forests in the North-East of Tasmania. These forests are within proximity of the world-famous Blue Derby bike tracks.

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The IPCC report – what does it mean for mountain environments?

The long awaited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Report has now been released.

As expected, it is an urgent wake up call to our political leaders to actually start to take decisive action to tackle the climate crisis. While the information is not really ‘new’, it does remind us of the incredible urgency of taking climate action. Now.

The IPCC says ‘many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion – such as continued sea level rise – are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years’.

However, they do remind us that ‘strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change’. So let’s get to it.

What are the implications for mountain lovers in this new report?

Continue reading “The IPCC report – what does it mean for mountain environments?”

Protect Our Winters Australia film screening: Purple Mountains

Snowboarder and environmentalist Jeremy Jones embarks on a mission to raise awareness about climate change.

His film Purple Mountains is being screened in Bright as part of the 2021 Victorian Backcountry Festival, which will happen in and around Mt Hotham resort over September 3, 4 and 5. Join festival sponsors Bright Brewery for a free screening of ‘Purple Mountains’ inside the brewery.

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