Newsletter #20 – Winter 1999

A newsletter for people interested in the Australian Alps

Australian Alps Liaison Committee

A Little Bit of Heaven in the Victorian Alps…

Nigel Watts is a Ranger with Parks Victoria based out of Mansfield. Nigel’s “little piece of dirt” to which he has responsibility for covers a vast area including a proportion of the Australian Alps Walking Track within the Alpine National Park.

Lying at the Western end of the Australian Alps National Parks, the Mansfield Workcentre, as part of the King, Howqua Unit of the Alpine National Park, is responsible for an interesting and spectacular patch of countryside that encompasses the headwaters of the King, Howqua and Jamieson Rivers. The area also contains an array of thought provoking names. Here are 3 areas of particular note.

Howqua Hills Historic Area, as the name implies, is an area set aside predominantly for its historic features. Located around the Howqua River these features include Greenstone quarries, (where aborigines sought the stone prized for its hardness for tools and weapons), sites of early European settlement and relics of the gold mining era. The Great Rand, The Mountain Chief and Howqua United are names of gold mines that were used to attract investors to the fickle business of reef mining. Sheepyard Flat, Tunnel Bend, Blackbird Creek, Whiskey Flat and Tobacco Flat are names familiar to the thousands of campers that descend on the area during the warmer months, but conjure up thoughts of past activities. Amongst the Manna Gums along the river flats sits a prominent feature of days gone by. The chimney at the site of Howqua Gold Treatment works towers over the nearby river. It is not difficult to sit here and imagine the hive of activity, the din of the stampers of the crushing plant and the high expectations of the mine managers. The wooden water wheel and crushing plant were dismantled long ago but the chimney stands silent.

Located on the divide between the Jamieson and Howqua Rivers, Eagles Peaks is a series of rocky crags that provides imposing views of the surrounding Alpine Park. From here you can see the CrossCut Saw, the Bluff and Mt McDonald where the AAWT (Australian Alps Walking Track) snakes out of the park on its journey south. To the southwest lies The Governors, Mt Darling and Lickhole Creek. To the north (though I don’t often sit facing this way) is the Alpine Resort of Mt Buller and logging coupes of Mt Timbertop. Eagles Peak is a lofty place accessed by a relatively little used foot path that sneaks along the ridge from 8 Mile Gap, passing under stands of Woolybutts and mature Hickory Wattles before climbing past gnarled old snow gums and the unfamiliar Mountain Needlewoods. It’s one of those places that has that magic feeling of isolation. (But don’t look North).

From the King Billy’s to Mt Speculation and beyond is some of the most spectacular walking country we have to offer, and names to match. The AAWT traverses the ridgeline here. It’s not quite as intimate as Eagles Peaks, the track is much more than that of a foot pad in places and you are more likely to encounter other walkers and even the odd nag but it is also a beautiful place. Prominent feature names travelling north along this section of track are Mt Magdala, Hells Window, Mt Howitt, The Crosscut Saw, Mt Buggery (I won’t even contemplate that one!), the Horrible Gap, Mt Despair, The Razor and The Viking. The track rises and falls, following the ridgeline over the rocky escarpments and into the grassy saddles where campfire scars are all too prominent between twisted old snowgums. The views from the peaks are to say the least, inspiring, and it’s in places such as these I could not disagree with the people who insist ” …you Rangers have a pretty good job.”

Faces behind the Committee…

The various workings groups comprising of Agency staff from across the Australian Alps national parks are often referred to as the ‘engine room’ behind the success of the cooperative management program. Like all ‘well-oiled’ machines there needs to be someone at the steering wheel, in the case of the Alps program it is the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC), and through the AALC respective Heads of Agencies and Ministers.

The Memorandum of Understanding, which establishes the cooperative management program, makes provision for the AALC to be established to coordinate a strong program of cross border cooperation between the agencies involved in the management of the Australian Alps national parks.

The Australian Alps Liaison Committee has overall responsibility for the efficient and effective operation of the Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program. The AALC regularly monitors progress with projects conducted under the program, approves the range of projects in the annual works program, and directs the work of the Program Coordinator and Working Groups within the overall context of the Alps program.

The AALC members are senior managers with direct responsibility for implementing the projects and outcomes of the cooperative management program within the Australian Alps national parks. These senior officers are also able to approve the involvement of field staff in the various programs, training and projects that make up the Australian Alps cooperative management program.

The current members of the AALC are Lee Thomas, as Convenor, representing Environment Australia (Commonwealth) Janet Mackay representing NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Chris Rose representing Parks Victoria and Stephen Hughes representing the ACT Parks and Conservation Service. Environment Australia also provides administrative support to the workings of the committee with Paul Stevenson as the secretary.

Currently the AALC is guiding the development of the next strategic plan to take the Alps program into the new millennium. The strategic plan identifies the main areas for works under the MOU including key result areas, outcomes, strategic actions and performance measures for each key result area. The strategic plan is the primary guide for consideration of project proposals by the AALC and Working Groups.

The AALC is keen to ensure that the updating of the strategic plan should be considered every three years to ensure that there is the opportunity for new foci and emphases in cross-border management, while maintaining continuity of primary directions and programs. Heads of Agencies, Working Group members, field staff and Alps stakeholders will all be involved in the development of the new strategic plan.

Tidbit’s

What’s in a name…

The Australian Alps national parks needs your HELP!!

We are currently in the process of putting together a field guide on the plants, animals and habitats of the Australian Alps. The book will have full colour photos of the common plants and animals, and will be very user friendly with appropriate ‘chatty’ text accompanying each species and habitat described. The target audience is very much Mr and Mrs Average Park Visitor.

The dilemma is what to call the publication, can you please indicate your preference for the following titles, they are not shown in any particular order.

  • Field Guide to the plants and animals of the Australian Alps
  • Wild Guide to the Australian Alps: a field guide to the plants and animals of the high country
  • Wild Guide to the plants and animals of the Australian Alps
  • A Field Guide to the Australian Alps… plants, animals and habitats

Please phone Brett McNamara on (02) 6207 1694 with your preferred title, or alternatively your suggestion. Your name will go into a draw with a chance to win a copy of the book!

Is the Grass always Greener?

Have you ever gazed across your border and thought, “Gee, I liked to work for that mob…” Well now there is an opportunity to find out IF the grass IS always greener on the over side of the fence (or border!).

The Australian Alps Liaison Committee is keen to foster and encourage Agency staff to share expertise and specialist skills in best practice management techniques in natural, cultural and recreational management. If you are interested in undertaking an exchange with a staff member from another agency or to simply undertake some degree of ‘work experience interstate’ contact Brett McNamara to register your interest.

World Wide Weeds

The original idea for this little column was to provide some interesting weed related addresses for you to surf on the net…but it seems you really only need one, and that’s www.agric.wa.gov.au/content/pw/weed/weedlinks.htm because there are hundreds of links there to choose from.

There are online details for weed societies, weed databases, weed images, botany sites and Botanic Gardens both in Australia and overseas.

One example is a Tasmania site ‘Which Weed?’ developed by Tamar Valley Weeders who are trying to combat the spread of weeds within the Tamar Valley region.

The Global Plant & Pest Information System has an interactive site on http://www.fao.org/ag/AGp/agpp/IPM/Weeds/

Rod Randall, the weed guru of WA, maintains an immense database at http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/weeds.htm

Rod says of the site ‘This weed list is a compilation of all the records relating to plants as weeds anywhere in the world and the naturalised flora in Australia’. The format is relatively simple with multiple records indicating a plant’s “weediness”, or at the very least where it is weedy.

So surf soon – you are bound to learn something about a weed near you!

Another interesting www resource is ENVIROWEEDS an Australian e-mail discussion group. If you want to join the group yourself send an e-mail to majordomo@majordomo.nre.vic.gov.au with the following command in the body of your e-mail message: subscribe enviroweeds.

Did you know…?

How did Count Paul Edmund de Strzelecki, later Sir Paul Strzelecki, measure the height of Mt Kosciuszko and other mountains?

In searching Strzelecki’s diaries and subsequent records, it appears that Strzelecki and his expedition to find the highest point of the Alps, carried 12 barometers and a “boiling water apparatus”. The measurement of altitude by barometer is well known and Strzelecki was aware of correcting errors by the use of a back survey (making observations in camp, climbing a peak, then reading the devices back in camp after the descent). The barometers he used were made to order with a “division carried to one-thousandth part of an inch” and he always used at least two barometers, his final figure being an average of the observations.

The boiling water device was designed by a Dr Wollaston and constructed by Messrs Troughton and Simms. Altitude was calculated from the boiling point of water. Water boils at lower temperatures as altitude increases and the Astronomical Tables of Francis Bailey provided comparable altitudes for particular boiling points. It is not recorded whether the device could double to make a cup of tea.

The circumstances of the European definition of Mt Kosciuszko in February March 1840 are less clear. Strzelecki (1797-1873) named the whole summit area of the Main Range (six or seven peaks) after his Polish compatriot and hero, Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817). Records suggest that he climbed to the summit area on his own, in a rapid ascent from a valley camp along the headwaters of the Murray River. His companions refused to go further when it was clear that they would not get back to camp before dark. Some commentators argue that he actually climbed Mt Townsend or Abbotts Peak rather than the Kosciuszko summit. The short time taken to make the traverse meant that Strzelecki probably did not have time to use his boiling water apparatus. It is possible that in his descent after dark his many falls may have upset the barometers. He finally calculated the altitude of the Kosciuszko summit area at 6510 “English feet” or just under 2000m. Later trigonometric surveys established the height at 7305 feet or 2228m.

The Count collected one memento from Kosciuszko, a flower, which he pressed and sent to his life-long sweet heart, Adyna.

In his diaries Strzelecki made several references to the Aboriginal people associated with the Alps, including the importance of moths in their diet. A later guide, James Spencer recorded in the 1850’s that “The blacks called Mt Kosciuszko [possibly Mt Townsend], Tar-gan-gil and journeyed there every summer, camping for a couple of weeks …”

You learn something new everyday…!

What’s happening around the Alps – Project Progress Reports

Across the Australian Alps national parks, the working groups or ‘engine room’ of the cooperative management program have had their collective noses to the grindstone recently with a number of exciting projects well underway… Without this level of energy and enthusiasm the Alps program would not be the model of excellence in achieving cross border cooperation!

Community Relations Working Group

Progress Report

Lights… Camera… Action Australian Alps Video and Map Project; Up and Running… A Canberra based consortium comprising of Fine Films and Images on Line have been appointed to undertake an exciting project to capture the essence and unique spirit of the Australian Alps on video.

The aim of the video is to take the viewer on a journey of discovery through the Australian Alps national parks, a unique landscape in a dry flat continent. The working group has developed a story line based on the concept of ‘pathways of discovery’. The journey begins in the footsteps of Aboriginal occupation leading onto the diverse cultural and natural elements of the Australian Alps. The primary focus of the video is to be visually stunning and to encourage a greater understanding and appreciation for the Australian Alps as one biogeographical region. Filming has begun on the development, production and distribution of this 15-minute video designed for visitor centres, coach groups and general purchase.

The second stage of the project involves the production of a tourist map to compliment the video. Ian Charles has been appointed to produce a full colour detailed map of the Australian Alps that will provide accurate information on recreational opportunities across the region. The map and video, along with the vehicle touring guide “Explore” will provide a package of information all designed to be entertaining and informative, while at the same time encouraging the audience to gain an in-depth appreciation for the significance of the Australian Alps national parks.

The entire project has been designed along similar lines to that of the very successful NPWS South – East Forest package. The Alps project will develop stakeholder interest and form partnership arrangements with councils, tourism organisations and others to provide a sense of ownership for the information package. Stuart Cohen (NPWS) is coordinating the project.

Community Benchmark Awareness Survey

The working group has engaged the services of Worthington Di Marzio, a market research firm from Melbourne, to identify community needs, levels of satisfaction and establish benchmarks for community awareness of the Australian Alps national parks.

These findings will be used in the development of future community awareness and visitor management programs. Worthington Di Marzio will undertake both qualitative and quantitative research with two key audiences being Australian Alps rural residents and park visitors. The overall survey will provide useful data and information as to the needs and park visitor satisfaction levels with the Australian Alps national parks.

This project represents a joint effort with the Recreation and Tourism Working Group; an initiative designed to allow a closer working relationship between the groups.

Australian Alps TV Ads

The community service announcements produced for local and regional television stations remain popular in receiving ‘free air-time’. One reason for this continual interest is due to the visually stunning footage. Hopefully by now, many of you would have seen the Australian Alps advertised recently on television in the form of 30 or 60 second community service announcements. They have even had air play interstate!

The community services announcements remain popular with stations and are being played in both prime time and late-night time slots. They aim to make the general community more aware that there is a single biogeographical region known as the Australian Alps, and to highlight some of the unique values of this region.

Australian Alps Internet Home Page

The Alps home page just keeps on getting bigger and better… Jo Hooper from Internet Weavers has recently overhauled the site, updating information and generally enhancing the appearance of the site. One of the key elements of the page is the easy way by which you can access information on the Australian Alps cooperative management program. This and subsequent newsletters and annual reports are now available on–line. The website continues to be popular with students and visitors alike and is linked to all the Alps agency sites as well as the website of the Australian Institute for Alpine Studies.

Visit the Alps today at www.australianalps.environment.gov.au

Field Guide to the Australian Alps

Barbara Cameron–Smith from Cameo Interpretative Projects, has been very busy in progressing the development and production of a field guide to the plants, animals and habitats of the Australian Alps national parks. A draft species list of plants and animals has been collated, along with text for all sections of the guide. A working concept design of the guide has been circulated for comment. When complete, the field guide will help to increase community understanding and appreciation of the unique natural heritage values of the alpine and sub-alpine environments and the importance of conserving the Alps.

The target audience for the Field Guide is the general visiting public who may not have training or experience in the scientific or taxonomic identification of alpine species. For further details contact:

Ann Jelinek
Environment Australia,
Phone (02) 6250 0284

By Odile Arman,
Working Group Convenor
Phone (02) 6207 2088

Recreation and Tourism Progress Report

Explore the Australian Alps Touring Guide – out now!

All you need to know to fully explore and enjoy the alpine regions of New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT is now readily available in this comprehensive and practical guidebook.

Explore is an essential reference for anyone wanting to visit one of Australia’s most beautiful and fascinating regions. Explore the Australian Alps is divided into six sections that together from the Grand Tour of the Alps. A comprehensive map, detailed tour information for two and four-wheel drive vehicles, interesting anecdotes, and insights into native flora and fauna, accompanies each region. .

With over 150 stunning full colour photographs, Explore is an invaluable touring guide and a lasting memento of journeys through the Australian Alps national parks.

Contact the Program Coordinator to secure your copy today!

Minimum Impact Evaluation

How effective are the eight brochures explaining the Minimal Impact Codes? This is the question Dr Elizabeth Beckmann has been asked to answer. Elizabeth believes we need as many stakeholder perspective’s as possible, so she’s using several evaluation strategies, including:

  • focus groups to identify some of the key communication aspects of the brochures (from conceptual design and impact of the interpretive messages to practicalities such as colour, text style and illustrations);
  • structured interviews with Alps staff for internal feedback on brochure effectiveness and distribution methods;
  • interviews with about 100 Alps visitors to investigate awareness of the Codes and key minimal impact behaviours; and
  • structured mail-out questionnaires to about 100 organisations representing recreational user groups and ecotourism operators.

Rather than merely evaluating the brochures as written media, the emphasis of this study is on developing constructive consultation with relevant user groups. The aim is to ensure effective understanding of Minimal Impact messages by identifying and fostering cooperative communication strategies, to the ultimate benefit of the environment.

If you have any comments you would like incorporated into the review contact :

Geoff Young (ACT)
Phone (02) 6207 2900

Recreation Strategy Project

The Working Group identified the need to provide a model that will assist managers to gather information about the range of recreation settings and activities they manage and provide a strategic framework for recreation and tourism management within the context of the Australian Alps.

The objective is to encourage managers to consider how their decisions may effect those offerings by identifying the variety of recreation settings and the range of features that characterise those settings.

Progress to date has been:

Pilot project

In 1996, the Australian Alps Liaison Committee approved a pilot project to develop a model for part of the Alps, to determine whether the proposal warranted further application to the rest of the Alps. Rethink were appointed to develop the model for a pilot area embracing part of Snowy River. The study area included a variety of settings, activities, environments and cross border issues. The report of the pilot project is now completed.

Stage 1 (1998/99)

The objective of Stage 1 is to provide:

  • a strategic overview of the alps in terms of the location and range of recreation activities and settings; and
  • Statements for each management unit of the particular character and offerings provided and the strategic fit with the whole of the Alps.

The consultant will be required to:

  • Using the criteria outlined in the Snowy River Pilot Project, carry out recreation resource mapping of the area covered by the Alps MOU (eg ROS classes and environmental management units);
  • Undertake a recreational audit, developing character statements and visitor profiles for each management unit.
  • Raise the level of awareness of park staff in recreational management assessment; and
  • Identify a small number of key strategic sites requiring priority application of the recreation-planning model, identified in the Snowy River Pilot Project.

Missing Link have been selected as the successful contractor with a completion date by June 1999.

The working group is very excited about the overall concept of the project, as it should provide a sound framework and useful management tool for recreation management throughout the Australian Alps national parks.

Contact Peter Jacobs (Vic) for more information on (03) 5755 1466.

AAWT Trail Head Display Signs

Production of the Australian Alps Walking Track trailhead displays are now complete and will be installed at each end of the Alps walking track, Walhalla (Vic) and at the Namadgi Visitor Centre (ACT). Each sign has been carefully designed to fit in with the unique settings of both locations, and aim to extol the virtues of the walking track and to entice visitors to at least experience a small section of this magnificent track.

Visitor Monitoring Status Report

Gale Healy has been engaged to undertake a review of the existing visitor monitoring systems across the Australian Alps in terms of accuracy, usefulness and efficiency. The project will also identify deficiencies within the various systems and provide a series of recommendations to the Visitor Monitoring Workshop schedule for the 27- 29 April at Beechworth. The working group is concentrating its collective energy in facilitating some meaningful visitor statistics across the Alps. The program is well in place with figures being reported and collated quarterly, however we are hoping to carry out more work on the system this year to improve accuracy and reporting.

Best Practice Visitor Monitoring Workshop
27 – 29 April Beechworth, Victoria

People have a huge impact in our protected areas. If you don’t know how many visitors you have, what they do or why the visit then you’ll have no way to influence their activities or manage their impacts. This workshop will get you started on the way to monitoring the use of your park.

We hope to inform field staff and managers about the need for visitor monitoring, train participants in the techniques and technology involved, provide networking opportunities and promote increased cooperation between national parks and the tourism and research industries.

Who should attend?

  • Field staff and rangers
  • Protected area managers
  • Visitor Services managers
  • Tourism and recreation planners
  • Tour operators

The workshop will begin at 11.30am on Tuesday April 27, 1999 and end at 2pm Thursday April 29, 1999. It will combine ‘how-to’ demonstrations and case studies. Presentations will include:

  • Understanding the jargon
  • Designing sampling, counting and survey strategies
  • Case studies from a range of venues
  • Industry perspectives – hardware and software
  • Troubleshooting

The Australian Alps Liaison Committee supports this innovative workshop and there are several sponsored places identified for Australian Alps agency staff. Other participants are welcome and registration is available at $250 including food and accommodation.

Pam O’Brien
Working Group Convenor
Phone (02) 64505575

Contact
Pam O’Brien (02) 6450 5575 or
Cath Renwick (02) 6250 9501

Cultural Heritage Working Group Progress Report

Heritage Training Workshop
May 3- 6 1999, Canberra, Namadgi and Kosciuszko National Park

Matthew Higgins, a Canberra based freelance heritage consultant, has been appointed to coordinate a workshop designed to introduce the key principles, skills and information required for the conservation of heritage buildings in the Australian Alps national parks. The project will include the production of a workshop manual and listing of people with appropriate trade skills for latter reference. Dave Dwyer is overseeing the project and for more information or suggestions as to what you would like to see the training workshop cover, contact Dave Dwyer (02) 6207 2900.

Cultural Heritage Strategic Planning Workshop

A strategic planning workshop on the future direction for cultural heritage conservation within the Australian Alps national parks is scheduled for the end of March. The workshop will involve key agency staff from across the spectrum including the strategic thinkers and visionaries within each agency as well as key stakeholders representing indigenous interests. The aim of the workshop is to provide a strategic direction and framework and to arrive at a series of recommendations for future project work.

Aboriginal Issues Awareness Workshop 6-8 July 1999, Khancoban

The working group has identified the need to conduct a series of Aboriginal issue awareness workshops to empower field staff to confidently approach Aboriginal communities regarding interpretative messages. The project has been recently refocussed to take into account the need to gain appreciation for issues facing contemporary Aboriginal society. The NSW NPWS Aboriginal Training Unit have been commissioned to present the workshop at Khancoban.

International Significance of the Cultural Heritage Values

Jane Lennon and Associates have been contracted to prepare an assessment of the cultural values of the Australian Alps against international criteria. Jane has provided a draft report to the working group highlighting cultural themes, features and attributes along with developing arguments that distinguish the Australian Alps in an international context. The report highlights that further work is required to compile relevant international themes of human occupancy in alpine environments and then compare Australian evidence with the wider international context. The Australian Alps may well prove to be of great importance in illustrating Aboriginal adaptation to climate change in the late Pleistocene era compared to more recent occupancy of the European Alps. The draft report has been circulated for comment amongst the working group. It is expected that the assessment of cultural values will complement the assessment of international natural values of the Australian Alps undertaken by Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick several years ago.

By Debbie Argue, Working Group Convenor (02) 6207 2167

Natural Heritage Working Group Progress Report

Quolls in the Alps – Sex, scats and video tape…

As autumn sets in, every male Tiger Quoll in the Alps is thinking sex, sex, and sex! The onset of the quoll-breeding season will see male quolls roaming around the countryside, seeking out available (and willing!) partners. Each male spends his time investigating latrine sites (normally logs or flat rocks where the female deposits her droppings) to determine at what stage in the oestrus cycle the local lass is in, and what other males are hanging around. He will leave his own “number-two” there, to let the female know he’s around and what his intentions are. If all goes to plan, we will capture all of the action at a latrine site this breeding season, which will give us a much clearer picture of what actually goes on. Why is this important? Firstly, because we have a very limited knowledge about the species in general and about it’s reproductive behaviour in particular. Secondly, most conservation agencies have established prescriptions concerning the protection of latrine sites, without having any real information about their function or purpose. Finally, it will provide some information about the population of quolls around the study area, given that each quoll has a distinctive pattern of spots. Stay tuned…the resulting video will be coming to a store near you soon!

A cause worth dying for…

The AALC’s commitment to quoll conservation has been further demonstrated by the funding of a project which will investigate the impact of aerial baiting on Tiger Quolls. Aerial baiting is widely undertaken in NSW to poison wild dogs. To date, no-one knows what impact this method of bait deployment over forested country might be having on the local quoll population. This project will use a non-toxic biomarker; a pink dye called Rhodamine-B, injected into the baits in a solution (instead of using the poison 1080). They will be dropped from aircraft in the usual manner, and four weeks later the local quoll population will be caught.

Each quoll will have several whiskers removed, and if they have consumed meat bait containing the Rhodamine-B dye, a band of fluorescence will be seen within the whisker under ultraviolet light. For example, if following the simulated baiting program, 12 quolls out of 15 had whiskers which showed evidence of Rhodamine-B, you might surmise that if that were a real poisoning program, the local quoll population might have been put at considerable risk. This project is unlikely to provide the final word on aerial baiting, but it will at least provide some hard data on the potential impact on Tiger Quolls that this method might be having.

Tour Operators rediscover the Australian Alps national parks

Since 1994 the Australian Alps national parks have held a series extremely effective and popular Tour Operator Training Workshops. We wanted to encourage tour operators to present accurate information about the unique Australian Alps in an interpretive style while practicing minimal impact techniques – quite a challenge!

More recently, with moves towards accreditation, we have developed an accredited training module for use in the TAFE system. Canberra Institute of Technology and the Kosciuszko Education Centre (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service) have worked with the Australian Alps to create a course developing top quality ecotourism skills.

The next stage is to encourage tour operators working in the Australian Alps to take advantage of the training. Currently there is no tangible advantage for an operator if s/he has participated in the training and we are now looking at ways to endorse those who have “skilled-up”.

We are very keen to hear from the tourism industry. If you have any comments or suggestion please contact:

Cath Renwick phone (02) 6250 9501 or email cath.renwick@deh.gov.au

Alps Profile

Janet Mackay, from humble beginnings…

Janet Mackay has been with NPWS since 1984 when her career changed from being a recreation planner with the Victorian government and in private consultancy, to pursue the life of a ranger. After a few years as a ranger and senior ranger and a period working on recreation planning for Kosciuszko National Park, Janet accepted the position of Program Coordinator for the Australian Alps cooperative management program.

Her term in the position saw the early development of the program including fine-tuning of project management skills amongst working groups and providing technical support on many issues. Significant progress was made in ensuring the commitment of agency staff in all occupation groups through the initiation of the annual field workshop, the newsletter and regular meetings with managers in all the agencies. Community support for the program was engendered through the employment of a media officer.

One of the highlights of Janet’s career was the initiation and organisation of the IUCN/AALC international workshop on Transborder Cooperation in Protected Areas. This workshop was attended by people from 19 countries and, at the invitation of IUCN, showcased the Australian Alps program as a highly successful model for border areas.

Janet has been Manager Operations at Snowy Mountains Region for three years with responsibility for overall park management, roads and media/information areas. She has represented the Service on the AALC for a year. In 1996 she was invited by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to participate in a workshop at Jhouzaigou National Park in Szechuan Province, China where the group developed guidelines for managing tourism in this remote world heritage area. Janet is an active member of the IUCN Mountain Protected Areas Network of IUCN.

Janet balances her career with the activities of her two delightful children Lauren, 9 and Lachlan, 5.

Around the Agencies: Correspondent’s Report

Victoria

An update from South of the Border… Chris Rose, Chief Ranger, Alpine District

With summer now over, it is that time of year when the works programs are in full swing. The summer has been long and relatively hot, but fortunately it has been a relatively quiet fire season as the heat has been interspersed with a number of well timed rain events, some unfortunately very localised. Most fires have been extinguished quickly and kept to a very small size. This is testament to the efficiency of Parks Victoria and Natural Resources and Environment staff and systems.

While for many people, the memory of the floods that hit the Victorian Alps in two separate events last year; the June floods that ravaged the Gippsland side of the divide, and the September NE floods have faded. For Parks Victoria staff, redemption works to the damage to our vehicle and walking tracks and other assets is in full swing. Approximately $5 million dollars has to be spent in National Parks to repair the damage. This has put a considerable burden on existing staff. To help manage this large and complex project, a project team has been established. The team is lead by Bob Jones, a familiar name to many people in the Alps program. The new structure for the Alpine District is now working well. The District is organised into 6 management units, each with both a geographical area to manage, and a functional responsibility. The results of the team approach to work are really starting to show with some excellent work being done in the environment and visitor information programs.

Unfortunately for the District, two of our key people have recently moved on. Nick Walton has left his position at Corryong as RIC Upper Murray Management Unit for the greener pastures of Canberra where he will be working in Environment Australia carrying out wildlife trade enforcement work. David Burton; RIC Eastern Alps Management Unit, has also accepted another RIC position in Orbost, unfortunately outside the Alpine District. It is intended that both positions be refilled with the locations of those positions currently under review.

Two very familiar names to Alps staff are Peter Jacobs and Gill Anderson. Peter and Gill are currently on long service leave for three months trekking in South America with their daughter and we wish them a fabulous trip. No doubt the slides and stories will be exciting. Felicity Brooke is Acting as Ranger in Charge at Mt Buffalo and is currently doing an excellent job filling the large shoes of Peter Jacobs.

Because of the relatively poor snow seasons in the past few years, a number of us are getting itchy about skiing already as the nights start to get longer and colder. As always, the optimistic side starts to come out as we start to get fit through biking, running and working – lets hope we get half of what Europe had this year!

New South Wales

The word from the Lyrebird Liz Wren, Media/Information Manager

New region – new director

As part of a recent restructure of the NPWS, there are now four regions – Northern, Western, Central and Southern. The new Southern Region takes in the former Southern and Snowy Mountains Region. Dr Tony Fleming took up the position of director, Southern Region in early February and will be based at Queanbeyan.

Staff news

Starting at the top, Snowy Heritage manager, Graeme Enders, has been acting in the position of Snowy Mountains Region manager since the start of the year. Alistair Grinbergs has filled his shoes as Heritage manager.

Danny Corcoran has accepted a permanent appointment with Jindabyne District as ranger for the Pilot.

Up north, two new assistant district managers have been appointed for Tumut District: Russell Knutson, who is known to many throughout the State through his years of service, and Michael Pettitt who comes to the NPWS from State Forests.

Summit news

Summit ranger Cameron Leary has embarked on one of his most ambitious projects to date – the construction of a new permanent toilet at Charlotte Pass. Years in the planning and brought to you by park use fees, plus a Commonwealth grant, this project will employ cutting-edge technology in composting waste systems and will finally satisfy the need for a permanent comfort station on the edge of the beautiful but sensitive, alpine area.

Meanwhile the ‘mountains’ soil guru, soil conservation officer, Stuart Johnston, led a dedicated band of volunteer students in a variety of works in the summit area. During January and February the students were involved in the visitor monitoring in the alpine area, revegetation works and collection of seed from native species.

Australian Capital Territory

The Gang-Gang gossip… Tony Corrigan, Senior Ranger Namadgi NP

Cross Border Law Enforcement Training

Recently staff from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW Police, Australian Federal Police and Environment ACT (including ACT Parks and Conservation Service) met at the Namadgi National Park Visitors Information Centre. The purpose was to discuss a number of relevant law enforcement issues confronting staff from across the agencies. The topics were closely related to a number of compliance activities within the ‘northern end’ of the Australian Alps. These included matters from ‘on ground’ issues such as illegal pig hunting, to establishing processes to allow the exchange of information and authorisation of staff under legislation.

As a result of the workshop, moves are currently underway to establish a formal process to improve intelligence sharing between the various agencies, and for agency staff to being authorised ‘across the border’.

With the sharing of intelligence resources between agencies, hopefully we will all benefit from a clearer understanding of the ‘big picture’ of compliance issues within the Australian Alps National Parks. There are also plans to run joint enforcement programs at various times throughout the year, allowing for limited ‘on-ground resources’ to be effectively utilised.

Already tangible results of the success of the workshop have been seen with an ACT resident who has been previously spoken to in relation to ‘pigging’ activities in Namadgi National Park, apprehended and charged for similar activities in New South Wales by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Police.

Environment Australia (Commonwealth)

What’s the buzz with the Parks Australia…

Paul Stevenson, AALC Secretary The Commonwealth park service, Parks Australia, is undergoing further changes with staff being co-located with most other Environment Australia staff in a renovated building in the Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra. Staff are now learning to cope with security passes, something which we hope never has to be implemented out in the parks. (At least the quality of the cappuccinos is in keeping with the high standards set by the Alps program Ed!)

A useful aspect of the move is that it brings Parks Australia staff into the same area as the Australian Heritage Commission, the Australian and World Heritage Group, GBRMPA and the Marine Group. The latter has been preparing proclamations for new marine protected areas in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone.

The important thing is that Cath Renwick, our hard working Community Education Officer has a new desk with the Parks Australia staff. Her new phone number is 02 6250 9501 and the Alps fax is 02 6250 9599. All Environment Australia staff now have new phone numbers but most will retain the last three digits of their old numbers with the prefix 02 62742xxx.

Lee Thomas, who is the Australian Vice-Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, spent a week of March in Puerto Rico presenting a paper to the International Forestry Forum. The paper Lee is presenting has some interesting implications for the Alps and is based on a book he has been helping to compile – “Linking Protected Areas to the Economy: Guidelines for Assessing the Impact on the Economy from Protected Areas”. More about this later…

English Broom – A Deceptively Beautiful Alps Invader Is this the plant you know?

“Cytisus scoparius Scotch/English broom in flower is a fiesta of sparkling colour, a shower of glowing gold that makes an incomparable statement in the garden”
Kim E. Tripp – The NCSU Arboretum

Well think again – broom is a dangerous weed

Scotch/English broom is an extremely aggressive invader of our natural alpine environments, out competing and retarding the growth of native flora in many areas by blanketing the ground and removing all understorey species in higher altitude/higher rainfall alpine areas.

What is being done about Broom?

The Australian Alps Liaison Committee through the Natural Heritage Working Group has recognised the importance of controlling Scotch/English broom within the Australian Alps National Parks. A co ordinated effort is being made to address the threat of broom where ever it occurs. Cross border co operation has been achieved through the development of an Australian Alps English Broom Control Strategy and through the implementation of a broom Biological Control network.

Australian Alps English Broom Control Strategy

Researchers at the Victorian DNRE’s Keith Turnbull Research Institute are currently preparing an Australian Alps English Broom Control Strategy.

The strategy aims to help develop English broom control expertise amongst field staff across the Australian Alps National Park, through the exchange of information and ideas regarding the latest integrated control techniques.

The vision for the Australian Alps English Broom Control Strategy is to produce a document that provides field staff with practical management advice based on the latest integrated broom control techniques, and recommendations on how regional constraints to the effectiveness of current broom control programs may be over come. The control strategy will facilitate the exchange of information and ideas, not just between site managers within the Australian Alps biogeographical region, but from where-ever English broom is considered a problem.

Biological Control of English Broom

Biological control is widely regarded as the most promising option to manage broom infestations. Biological control of English broom, when used as part of an integrated weed management strategy provides an economically and environmentally attractive long term solution to broom control.

An international program involving Australia, New Zealand and the USA has been underway since 1990 to introduce a number of the weed’s natural enemies to control Scotch/English broom. These agents can be released only after rigorous testing has demonstrated they are specific to English broom and pose no danger to native plants or plants of economic importance.

The support given by the Australian Alps Liaison Committee to this biological control program has enabled the importation and release throughout the Alps of the broom seed-feeding beetle, Bruchidius villosus, or just plain Bruchid to you and me.

Female Bruchid beetles lay eggs on the outside of broom pods and emerging larvae burrow through the pod to feed in the developing seeds, destroying them in the process. High numbers of bruchids reduce seed production, reducing the density of broom infestations and the rate of spread of the weed. Bruchids are reported to be destroying 47% of broom seed, 5 years after release at a site in Lincoln, New Zealand Landcare Research Ltd New Zealand 1997).

A shipment of New Zealand Bruchids is currently being processed in the Quarantine facility at the Keith Turnbull Research Institute. These beetles will be released at various sites throughout the Australian Alps before the end of the year. For more information on either initiative contact:

Kate McArthur – Keith Turnbull Research Institute Phone (03) 9785 0136 Kate.McArthur@nre.vic.gov.au

Namadgi National Park Boboyan Pine Revegetation Project

When is a pine tree not a tree? When it’s a weed of course!

Namadgi National Park has a large pine plantation in the middle of the park, which not only conflicts with National Park conservation ideals but also contributes significantly to the weed problem in the surrounding areas. The 1986 Namadgi National Park Management Plan called for the removal of the Boboyan pine plantation and rehabilitation of the area with appropriate native species.

The 380-hectare plantation was established in 1966 on degraded agricultural land at the southern end of what was then the Gudgenby property. The land tenure of the site along with the land management objectives changed in 1979 when it was included in the Gudgenby Nature Reserve. The nature reserve, along with the Cotter river catchment was incorporated into the Namadgi National Park in 1984.

It was immediately evident from when the National Park was created that the pine plantation would have to go. The fact that the plantation is located in the centre of a National Park alongside the gazetted Bimberi Wilderness Area, an area of relatively undisturbed high ecological conservation and social value, and in close proximity to important aboriginal sites and the popular Yankee hat walking trail, makes it incompatible with the management objectives of the area. Thus the Boboyan pines project emerged.

The primary aim of the Boboyan pines project is to remove the pines and pine wildings from the site and to rehabilitate the area with appropriate native species as per the Namadgi National Park Plan of Management.

The specific objectives are:

  • to control pine and pine wildings and if possible to eradicate Pinus radiata from the Gudgenby Valley;
  • to retain the existing natural vegetation, particularly along drainage lines and natural forest inclusions, ie: to retain the biological potential of the area; and
  • to advance the recovery of natural shrub and tree cover where possible.

In December 1996 the first stage of several years of pine removal began.

This involves the felling of trees and burning of pine slash left on the ground. Following this the revegetation work includes broadcasting seed, seeding into small scraped-to-bare-earth patches, and the propagation and planting of seedlings, along with an awful lot of weed control.

Environmental safeguards that have been adopted for this project include erosion and sediment control, no machines to work in wet weather, and regular water quality monitoring in Bogong and Hospital Creeks.

The project has attracted support from a wide range of individuals and organisations including the ACT National Parks assoc, CSIRO, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the ANU school of forestry and the school of biological research. A working group has been established of interested experts providing advice and guidance to the project manager.

Adaptive management has been applied to the revegetation techniques. This includes using a combination of the current techniques available, modifying them wherever appropriate as well as trying new things and waiting to see what happens. The project is being heralded as leading the way in the rehabilitation of pine plantations in southern Australia. It is envisaged that it will become a great demonstration site to showcase new revegetation techniques, successes and failures. The results to date (94 hectares cleared and replanted) look very promising. Over the years the visual scars from the pine removal will give way to a regenerating native forest.

The long term nature of this project combined with significant community interest has paved the way for the establishment of a group of volunteers to assist with regeneration. The ACT National Parks Association has been integral in not only getting the project off the ground but also in helping establish the volunteer group. This group is known as the Gudgenby Bush Regeneration Group and they assist in planting seedlings, broadcasting seed, maintaining and building exclosure fencing, weed & wilding control, Waterwatch monitoring of 6 sites monthly and various other tasks. Much of the success of the project to date is directly related to the interest, hard work and dedication of the “Gudgenby Bushies”. If you are interested in finding out more about the project and the activities of the Gudgenby Bushies, contact:

Ranger Steve Welch – Namadgi National Park Phone (02) 6207 2900.

Mountain Tourism – a research priority for the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism

Mountain tourism is a large, important and distinctive component of the tourism industry in Australia. To be sustainable in a rapidly changing environment, there is a vital need for economic, environmental, and social development in this specialist industry. Three key aspects of mountain tourism in Australia involve ski resorts, backcountry tourism and summer tourism.

Ski resorts are one of the most intensive forms of tourism development in mountain areas. They have large capital and operating costs, significant reserves and potential profitability, and for the main, operate in very sensitive natural environments. As industry members compete for clients, they are increasingly seeking to expand visitation by broadening the range of activities from “ski resorts” to “winter resorts”, and lengthening their operating season from “winter resorts” to “mountain resorts”.

Mountain tourism is not all resort based. In winter it also includes wilderness touring on cross-country or telemark skis, or snowboards and snowshoes; guided commercial backcountry tours; huts; rope tows; small club skifields; larger commercial skifields without accommodation; and skifields with lodge accommodation only.

Summer mountain tourism includes car touring, guided walks, horse riding, paragliding, mountain biking, camping in organised camp sites, backcountry camping, hiking on trails, hiking off trails, sightseeing, wildflower viewing, rock climbing and hang gliding, fishing, golf etc. Some of these activities make use of resorts and associated facilities. Others use facilities such roads, trails and organised campsites away from resorts. A growing number of these activities occur in remote wilderness areas with high conservation requirements.

The sustainability of mountain tourism in Australia requires appropriate information resources for each of these three key aspects. It also requires a better understanding of the economics and demography of the industry on a national, regional and local level, as well as for individual aspects of mountain tourism in Australia. A national approach is needed that unites individual studies of specific resorts and types of tourism, fills in the missing pieces, and examines the changing nature of the industry including the impact of a climate change.

Dramatic changes in the climate of the alpine areas in Australia have been predicted within the next 70 years. These changes involve a reduction in snow cover, increased temperatures and possible lower precipitation. The models indicate fairly substantial changes in the total area covered by snow, and a substantial change in the duration of snow covers for specific locations.

Such reductions in the area, depth and duration of snow cover are likely to have large effects on ski resorts and mountain tourism in Australia. Poor snow seasons in the past have resulted in dramatic declines in income for resorts and associated commercial activities. Surveys of people currently visiting resorts to ski or snowboard indicate that the majority would either give up skiing, ski overseas, or ski in Australia less often, if snow cover declines. Increasingly, tourism operators are planning substitute activities as the ski season reduces, with resorts focusing more on summer activities to maintain economic viability. Resorts and local regional centres could start to focus more on year round tourism including conference, educational and health tourism as well as increasing activity and educational holidays and adventure sports. These types of changes in tourism activities, timing and intensity would yield corresponding changes in the economics, demography and environmental sustainability of the industry all of which are important for industry planning.

Effective management of all these aspects of mountain tourism now and in the future needs an innovative and interdisciplinary approach that combines the needs of the tourism industry, regional economies that are dependent on mountain tourism, specific resorts and tour operators, the public and National Parks.

Mountain Tourism and the CRC

Mountain tourism has been identified by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Sustainable Tourism as a large, important and distinctive component of the tourism industry in Australia. In recognition of this, the CRC for Sustainable Tourism is currently investigating the possibility of starting a research subprogram on Mountain Tourism.

The CRC for Sustainable Tourism is a federal government funded organisation that promotes research in environmental, social and economic sustainability in Australia. The CRC is made up of members including government tourism organisations such as the Tourism Council of Australia, Tourism New South Wales and Tourism Victoria; and universities including La Trobe University, Griffith University and Canberra University. The CRC is developing effective collaboration between industry and multi-discipline research groups.

Potential research project areas have been identified for the Mountain Tourism sub program. The include, but are not limited to:

  • ski resorts and best practice environmental management;
  • sustainable development of backcountry tourism in mountain regions;
  • sustainable development of summer tourism in mountain regions;
  • the value of mountain tourism – the economic importance of mountain tourism;
  • demographics of mountain tourism and trends in relation to predicted climate change; and,
  • climate change and mountain tourism – potential impact of predicted climate change on tourism and mountain ecosystems.

It is a priority for the research to provide results that are useful to government organisations involved in management of mountain areas along with the tourism industry. The mountain tourism subprogram presents an opportunity to further develop and contribute to the Australian Alps Liaison Committee projects.

If you are interested in finding out more about the mountain tourism subprogram, and having input into the proposed research projects, please contact:

Dr Catherine Pickering – School of Environmental and Applied Science

PMB 50 Gold Coast, Queensland 4217 Phone (07) 5594 8259 Fax (07) 5594 8067

E-mail C.Pickering@mailbox.gu.edu.au

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