Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


alpine grazing

Coalition calls for re-introduction of cattle grazing trials

The Nationals candidate for the federal seat of Indi, Marty Corboy, and federal Liberal candidate Sophie Mirabella have called on the Victorian Labor Government to resume an abandoned scientific trial of high country cattle grazing. This was reported by The Weekly Times. If you think this is a bad idea, there is an online poll attached to the Weekly Times news story.

Continue reading “Coalition calls for re-introduction of cattle grazing trials”

Vale Roger Good

Roger Good was a well known, deeply dedicated alpine ecologist. He passed away in October. He was a member of the Carruthers Group – a group of eminent alpine ecologists and scientists – which was active around the issue of alpine grazing.

Continue reading “Vale Roger Good”

Alpine grazing update

The following comes from the Victorian National Parks Association.

Quite some time before cattle grazing was banned in the Alpine National Park, ‘Soil erosion and vegetation damage and disturbance in the alpine regions of Victoria caused by cattle grazing’ was listed as a ‘Potentially Threatening Process’ under Victoria’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

The draft Action Statement required by that listing has now been prepared by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

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Feral cattle cull in Snowy River National Park

Having seen cattle within various sections of the Alpine National Park over the years I have wondered whether they are cattle that have not been collected when herds have been removed, or whether its been illegal grazing. The comments in this story from Kath Sullivan in The Weekly Times are interesting. A farmer says of cattle found within a national park “I can’t lay claim to them because they’re not earmarked, but I can claim an interest in them”.

SHOOTERS will be choppered into the Snowy River National Park, in East Gippsland, to destroy feral cattle.

Parks Victoria district manager Will McCutcheon said 10 cattle remained in the park.Parks Victoria had recent success with helicopters used to locate the cattle and drop skilled shooters into remote, rugged sites, where access has been an issue,” he said. “With another helicopter operation we hope to remove the last of the cattle over the next few weeks.”

Gordon Moon, a farmer at Black Mountain in East Gippsland, was “devastated” to learn of the cull. His family owned a cattle-grazing lease in the park before cattle grazing in national parks was banned. When asked if the cattle could be his, Mr Moon said: “I can’t lay claim to them because they’re not earmarked, but I can claim an interest in them.

I’d think it’d be costing squillions to cull them.”

Victorian National Parks Association spokesman Phil Ingamells said: “They (cattle) are not meant to be there.”

High country cattle grazing ban in national parks likely to succeed

In an update to our recent report on the Victorian government introducing legislation to ban cattle grazing in the Alpine and Red Gum national parks, it now seems likely the legislation will pass through the Upper House.

The ALP controls the Lower House but will require at least two additional Upper House votes to have the legislation approved. The Weekly Times is reporting that this is now looking likely:

Many Upper House MPs still expect the Government to succeed despite its minority position.

At least two of the five cross-benchers are expected to join the ALP and Greens and vote the Bill through after it clears the Lower House.

While all minority parties say they are still waiting to see the legislation’s wording, Sex Party MP Fiona Patten said she was likely to support the ban, as was Democratic Labour Party MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins.


Alpine grazing banned

In perhaps the final act of the long running alpine grazing saga, the Victorian government has introduced legislation into Parliament banning grazing in the Alpine National Park, as well as in the River Red Gum national parks.

The introduction of the National Parks Amendment (Prohibiting Cattle Grazing) Bill 2015 will amend the National Parks Act 1975 to prohibit cattle grazing for any purpose in these national parks.

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Scientific research from alpine cattle grazing trial ’inconclusive’

The following comes from Rob Harris at The Weekly Times. It’s always amusing to see the mountain cattlemen’s association representative bemoaning the fact that the issue has become ‘political’. Does he honestly want to say that it wasn’t a ‘political’ act when the Coalition originally rushed cattle into the Alpine Park in secret without having an actual scientific plan around the grazing trial? Of course not, its been about politics from day one.

What is telling from this report is the fact that the Coalition government classified the first year’s grazing results as being “cabinet-in-confidence”. This makes it difficult for the findings to be put into the public domain. If the results supported the argument that ‘grazing reduces blazing’ why wouldn’t they have made them public?

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Victorian government stops Alpine grazing trial

In the latest development in the decades long saga over cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park, the new Victorian government has confirmed it has stopped the grazing trial established by the previous Coalition government.

For background on this issue check here.

The following comes from Rob Harris at The Weekly Times.

Continue reading “Victorian government stops Alpine grazing trial”

Victorian Government to scrap alpine cattle grazing trial

It’s heartening to see that the new Environment Minister, Lisa Neville, has moved so quickly on the Alpine grazing issue. The following comes from the ABC.

The Victorian Government says it will remove cattle from the Alpine National Park, despite continued lobbying from the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association.

Continue reading “Victorian Government to scrap alpine cattle grazing trial”

Victorian Government’s alpine cattle grazing policy heads to court

The following comes from The Weekly Times, and is written by Rob Harris.

THE “lawfulness” of the Victorian Government’s alpine cattle grazing policy will be challenged in the Supreme Court today.

The Victorian National Parks Association, represented by Environmental Justice Australia, is attempting to test the validity of the cattle grazing trial under Victoria’s National Parks Act.

The Wonnangatta Valley, in the Alpine National Park, was the site of a three-year cattle grazing trial which began in April this year.

The former federal Labor Government had blocked an original attempt to return Victoria’s mountain cattlemen to the high country when the Ted Baillieu’s Coalition came to power in 2010.

Cattle would return to the site in January 2015 if the Coalition wins the Victorian election on Saturday.

“The prime purpose of national parks is for conservation, not cow paddocks,” VNPA spokesman Phil Ingamells said today.

He said in recent weeks the VNPA had commissioned an expert ecological assessment of the Wonnangatta Valley, the site of the Coalition’s proposed three-year cattle grazing trial.

“They have been irresponsible in locating their cattle grazing trial in the remote and beautiful Wonnangatta Valley,” Mr Ingamells said.

He said the Coalition had “grabbed at least $1.5 million of taxpayers’ money for this so-called scientific trial” which he said was “primarily designed to buy votes in East Gippsland”.

“The grazing trial won’t give us any new information. Comprehensive research already shows that cattle have greatly damaged the Alpine National Park, and that grazing doesn’t significantly reduce fire risk in the high country.”

Alpine park grazing challenged

The following comes from the Victorian National Parks Association,:

Wonnangatta River
Wonnangatta River

Today we took the first steps in our legal challenge against Alpine cattle grazing.

This case marks the first time in our 60 year history that the Victorian National Parks Association has taken the extraordinary step of launching court proceedings to protect national parks – the cornerstone of our conservation efforts – from damaging cattle grazing. 
Represented by Environmental Justice Australia and barristers Richard Niall QC and Andrew Walker, we headed to the Supreme Court of Victoria for a directions hearing on the case. The court set a time in early July 2014 for a further hearing. 
According to Felicity Millner, Director of Litigation at Environmental Justice Australia and part of our legal team, today’s hearing takes us one step closer to getting a decision from the court about whether it is legal for the government to put cattle in the national park. 
At the final hearing of the case, we will be arguing the laws do not allow cattle in the Alpine National Park. 
Ensuring the integrity of national parks is an investment in the future. Whether we win or lose this legal test case, the idea and importance of national parks as a haven for people and nature must be defended.
To fight this campaign we need to raise money from visionary people in Victoria. We are hoping you are one of those people. 
We have to take this legal action now.  In March this year, 60 cattle were rushed back into the Wonnangatta Valley, part of the heritage-listed Alpine National Park, under a flawed fire management trial by the Napthine Government.
The cattle have now left, but will be back next summer, when up to 300 head of cattle will do even more damage.
These ‘cattle grazing trials’ have been roundly criticised as flawed science that will contribute little, if anything, to our understanding of fire management. The evidence speaks for itself, you can read all about it on our website.

Alpine grazing. It’s not just a bumper sticker, it’s a hypothesis

fire damage on Great Alpine Road
fire damage on Great Alpine Road

Its just not a credible one.

Latrobe University recently hosted a significant event organised by the Research Centre for Applied Alpine Ecology on the much contested topic of alpine grazing and whether it is a useful management tool to reduce fire intensity.

It featured two researchers with long term research backgrounds in the realm of fire and grazing.

A report is available here.

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