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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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land management

Seminar – Climate change, fire and the Victorian Alps

A report from the ‘Climate change and the Victorian Alps – preparing for the fires of the future’ seminar, which was held as part of the speakers program for the 2022 Victorian backcountry festival at Mt Hotham on September 2.

Speakers included an academic, a local landcare representative, Parks Victoria and DELWP.

Continue reading “Seminar – Climate change, fire and the Victorian Alps”

Climate change, fire and mountain environments

We know that climate change is already impacting on the Australian Alps. Declining snow pack, hotter summers, and longer fire seasons are just some of the impacts we are seeing. This brings many challenges to land managers, and is changing the mountain landscapes we know and love.

Additionally, local economies rely on the beautiful natural surroundings of the Alps, which attract skiers, riders and others from around the state and the country. Declining environments will impact on the numbers of visitors and hence local economies.

This short seminar will delve into the issue of fire, and how we need to respond to longer and more intense seasons in the Victorian mountains.

If you can’t attend the event, it will be livestreamed via the event facebook page.

Continue reading “Climate change, fire and mountain environments”

‘Feral horse removals in Kosciuszko must ramp-up significantly’

There has been a long struggle to get feral horse numbers managed properly across the mountains of south eastern Australia. The ACT, NSW and Victoria all manage the issue differently, but in NSW the need to manage numbers of feral animals has been caught up in a culture war narrative that has slowed and blocked meaningful action for many years.

The recent release of feral horse removal data for Kosciuszko National Park since February 2022 has highlighted the need to significantly increase removal efforts to protect one of Australia’s most important national parks.

Continue reading “‘Feral horse removals in Kosciuszko must ramp-up significantly’”

Climate change overwhelms the benefits of prescribed burning

We know that climate change is making our fire seasons longer and more intense. This brings up a range of problems and questions, including the need to increase ground and air capacity to fight fire, how we sustain volunteer and career firefighters through longer summers, how we grapple with the chance that we will get less support from overseas in coming years, and how we manage our landscapes and live in forested areas in a way that allows us to minimise the impacts of fire.

 

One of the tools we use to manage the intensity of fire is prescribed (or hazard or fuel reduction) burning. While Australia is a continent adapted to fire, there are ecological impacts, potentially both positive and negative, attached to fuel reduction operations.

 

New research says that the value of prescribed burning is declining as climate change drives more intense fire behaviour.

Continue reading “Climate change overwhelms the benefits of prescribed burning”

‘Working together to protect Taungurung country’

In 2018 the Victorian Government, the Taungurung Land and Waters Council Aboriginal Corporation (TLaWCAC), and the Taungurung Traditional Owner group signed a suite of agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic), and related legislation.

The Recognition and Settlement Agreement has now come into effect. This means that ownership of nine Victorian parks and reserves, include Mt Buffalo National Park and a section of the Alpine National Park, and up to five surplus public land parcels have been transferred to the Taungurung Traditional Owner Group.

While members of other Aboriginal groups have also claimed native title in areas covered by the agreement and said they had been excluded from the agreement, Taungurung are currently increasing their involvement in a number of aspects of land management within the parks, including Buffalo national park.

Representatives of the Ngurai Illum Wurrung, Waywurru and Dhudhuroa people were among respondents who applied for a judicial review of the agreement process (details on that case available here).

The text below comes from North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and details recent activity on the Buffalo Plateau (original release available here).

Continue reading “‘Working together to protect Taungurung country’”

Tasmania’s south-west threatened by drought and fire

Mountain Journal has often reported on the threats to remnant ancient forests in lutruwita/ Tasmania. Vegetation that dates back to the time when Australia was a part of the Gondwana super continent remain in mountain and low land areas in the centre and west of the state, and are under threat from climate change driven fire regimes.

For instance, this story reports on the drying trend that has been noted in south western Tasmania which has seen a steady increase in bushfires ignited by lightning, threatening the survival of Tasmania’s Gondwanan legacy.

A recent story from Zoe Kean, published on the Tasmanian Inquirer website (available here) highlights the threats to these vegetation communities.

Continue reading “Tasmania’s south-west threatened by drought and fire”

Climate change driven fire threatens Tasmania’s forests

While the summer of 2021/22 has been a mild fire season in the east of the country, there have been a small number of significant fires in lutruwita/ Tasmania that have threatened World Heritage Areas (including one that threatened an incredibly significant Huon pine forest). This is because the west of that state has been experiencing a prolonged and extreme drought, with some areas receiving their lowest rainfall on record.

As reported recently in The Conversation, “this drought fits an observed drying trend across the state, which will worsen due to climate change. This is very bad news for the ancient wilderness in the state’s World Heritage Area, where the lineage of some tree species stretch back 150 million years to the supercontinent Gondwana’.

The drying trend has seen a steady increase in bushfires ignited by lightning, imperilling the survival of Tasmania’s Gondwanan legacy, and raising profound fire management challenges.’ Continue reading “Climate change driven fire threatens Tasmania’s forests”

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:

Continue reading “New year, old issues “

Victorian feral horse plan a win for Alpine National Park

After public consultation, the Protection of the Alpine National Park – Feral Horse Action Plan 2021 has now been released. This is the Victorian Government’s new plan to ‘improve the management of feral horses and reduce the damage they cause to vulnerable natural and Aboriginal cultural values in the Alpine National Park’.

Unlike NSW, which continues to be beholden to demands from some to keep feral horses in the Snowy Mountain national park, Victoria has taken a stronger position.

Continue reading “Victorian feral horse plan a win for Alpine National Park”

North East Catchment Management Authority – another year of looking after the Alps

The North East Catchment Management Authority (NECMA) manages the integrated planning framework for land, water and biodiversity management in North East Victoria.

North east Victoria is gorgeous and contains some of our most beautiful mountains. While it comprises only 2% of the geographic area of the Murray-Darling Basin it contributes 38% of the total water in the Murray-Darling system. This high-quality water resource supports users across south-eastern Australia and needs to be protected.

NECMA has just released its annual report for 2020/21 (available here) and it has some interesting updates on projects happening across the mountains.

Continue reading “North East Catchment Management Authority – another year of looking after the Alps”

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.

Continue reading “Giving back to the Alps”

Lessons from the Tasmanian fires of 2018/19: state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’

Over the summer of 2018/19 huge fires burnt across Tasmania. An independent review of Tasmania’s management of the summer bushfires was released in August 2019. It found inadequacies in the response to the fire burning near Geeveston, and revealed that crews withdrew from the Gell River fire in Tasmania’s southwest in the mistaken belief it was out. The fire then expanded again and became out of control.

The report made a series of recommendations

Now, a comprehensive study examining the 2018/19 and the experience of authorities and affected groups by Insurance Group Zurich has found that the state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’.

“Since the turn of the millennium, climate change and land use change have converged to bring about a new fire regime in Tasmania,” Zurich’s first Australian Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) report said.

More than two thousand dry lightning strikes hit the state during that summer, igniting 70 fires that formed into four massive fire complexes. Over 95,000 hectares of protected land was burnt.

Continue reading “Lessons from the Tasmanian fires of 2018/19: state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’”

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