Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



What are the ecological costs of this summer’s fires?

In late November, fires started in East Gippsland as a result of lightning strikes. As noted by Peter Gardner, these went on to become major blazes. On new year’s eve, lightning storms started fires across the Victorian mountains and fire season came to the Alps with a vengeance.

Since then, huge areas of the Victorian Alps and Snowy Mountains have burnt. As at January 14, many of these are still going and, of course, the key priority is containing them.

But once it’s all over, we will need to count the ecological cost of these fires. Some areas in the Alps have now burnt three times in about 15 years. There is no doubt that longer fire seasons, driven by climate change, are already impacting on mountain and foothill environments.

The short answer at this stage is that we just don’t know what the full ecological impacts of these fires will be.

The following is a fairly random collection of reports on local impacts of the fires on mountain areas. It focuses on ecological values and impacts. Of course, this does not mean that human and economic impacts don’t matter. The narrow focus here is simply to try and share some information about what the impacts will be on natural systems, as the other stories are already being told widely in mainstream media. It will be added to as areas are re-opened to the public. I would welcome your reports for inclusion: please email text and stories to

Continue reading “What are the ecological costs of this summer’s fires?”

protection for endangered Mountain Burr Daisy?


The Mountain Burr Daisy (Calotis pubescens) was thought to be extinct until 2009, and is only found at one known location in Victoria, at Sugarmatt Plain, south of Cobungra. It has been recorded from the Nungar Plain, north of Adaminaby, in Kosciuszko National Park and the Snowy Plain at the headwaters of the Gungarlin River on private land and had long presumed to be extinct in Victoria.

It is a perennial forb (a herb that is not a grass or grasslike )that forms large, dense mats.

The remaining Victorian population at Sugarmatt Plain has an active threat from trampling and grazing by feral horses and cattle.

It has recently been recommended for listing under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and the paperwork has now been sent to both the Minister for Environment and Climate Change and the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, who will make a final decision on the matter. The ministers have 30 days to decide whether to list the plant under the Act, meaning there will be a decision by mid to late December 2013.

The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 provides for the listing of taxa (genera, species, subspecies, varieties) and communities of flora and fauna which are threatened (the Threatened List), and potentially threatening processes (the Processes List).

Once the listing is approved, an Action Statement will be developed, covering a plan to protect the species in question.

Stay tuned for details.

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