Newsletter #21 – Spring 1999

A newsletter for people interested in the Australian Alps

Australian Alps Liaison Committee

Rare and exciting find in the Australian Alps!

Who would’ve expected that a routine inspection of a Peregrine Falcon nesting area would reveal arguably the rarest item of Aboriginal cultural heritage significance in the Australiana Alps national parks? An Aboriginal digging stick. And it was the Alps’ own eagle-eyed Brett McNamara who found it!

Finding any wooden item of Aboriginal origin still remaining in the Australian Alps was considered so unlikely, that it took some persuading of various experts before it was authenticated. While these discussions raged, the Canberra Archaeological Society was successful in obtaining an ACT Heritage grant to study the site and the stick. Neither the local Aboriginal organisations nor the Heritage Council wanted the stick removed for further study; the stick remains on site in -situ.

The occurrence of a digging stick in the Australian Alps national parks is remarkable. The effects of sun, heat, bushfire, dampness, rain, frost and snow mitigate against the survival of wooden artefacts in situ. This digging stick was preserved because it was in an undercut of a cliff where the microenvironment is one of extreme aridity and shade. Its location beneath the undercut would also have protected the stick from bush fires.

What else was found on site? There were ten Aboriginal stone artefacts nearby and charcoal fragments which are most likely the result of one or more ancient campfires. To make a (relatively) comfortable living area at a cliff base composed of large boulders, 3 small areas had been cleared of rockfall.

There were no signs of art, engraving, scarred trees, quarrying activity or artefact grinding grooves. In fact, there was nothing to indicate to us what people were doing at this rugged steep and somewhat isolated area.

One exciting task carried out with the permission of the local Aboriginal organisations was to extract a tiny 0.08 milligram piece of wood to find the age of the stick, using the latest in carbon dating techniques. This process takes a few months and we do not have a result as yet.

Digging sticks were an indispensable part of a woman’s tool kit and every woman owned one. Saplings of any tough wood were selected for their manufacture, shaped appropriately and then one or both ends were hardened in the fire. They were usually used in conjunction with a wooden container when collecting plant foods, tubers and small game. As the digging stick loosened the earth, the container was used to scoop out the soil.

Ethnographic records include references to the use of digging sticks in the Alps of south-east Australia. Richard Helms describes the digging stick as “The commonest implement, …a plain stout cudgel about four feet long, sharpened and hardened in the fire at one end. It was used for digging out roots and other food from the ground and in case of need served for defensive purposes.” Dawson writing about his boyhood in the Monaro in the 1830s and 1840s, describes another use of the digging stick: “They would have some great merry-making and corroborees, the lubras would sit around on their haunches with tom toms or native drums made out of a piece of skin or hide stretched tight across a piece of bark curled before the fire…they would beat these with their yam sticks or nulla nullas, and chant a native tune…”

That digging sticks were a valuable article is illustrated by Howitt’s record of their having been an item at a trading event at Bega, involving exchange between groups from the Alps and the coastal region.

Why was such a valued object was left at this site? Was the stick forgotten at departure time, left for future use or discarded? Was it a case of ‘don’t forget the digging stick!’ and someone did!

Moral to this tale: if you see any unusual wooden item in a sheltered position, it could be significant. Don’t move it, but note the location, let your Manager know and contact your heritage officer. Who knows, you could become as infamous as Brett!

Debbie Argue Conservation Officer Heritage Unit Environment ACT

Tidbit’s…

Happy 21st Edition…

Yes, you are currently reading the 21st edition of News from the Alps… . The first edition rolled of the presses way back in June 1987, declaring the newsletter as a first in a series to make people aware of “the work being achieved under the Memorandum of Understanding for Parks in the Australian Alps”

The first edition also carried a story on the inaugural works program and makes reference to the establishment of five working group. The working groups being:

  • Public Awareness/ Code of Ethics Convenor Astrida Upitis, ANPWS
  • Feral Animals and Pest Plants Convenor Russell Costello, VDCFL
  • Cultural Resources Convenor Sue Feary, NSW NPWS
  • Fire Management Convenor Peter Lucas-Smith, NSW NPWS
  • Horse Riding and Trails Convenor Paul Hardy, NSW NPWS

It’s interesting to note that out of the initial working groups established the Cultural Heritage Working Group is still in existence today. Fire and Pest Plants and Animals have been rolled into the Natural Heritage Working Group, with Public Awareness now been picked up under the charter of Community Relations Working Group.

Obviously since June 1987 a number of people have passed through the Alps program and its interesting to reflect upon those who first picked up the challenge, where are they today? You may recognised a couple of names…

The first ever AALC comprised of:

  • Brian Martin, AALC Convenor
  • Australian Parks and Wildlife Service
  • Ian Weir Victorian Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands
  • Roger Good / Graeme Worboys
  • NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
  • Andy Turner ACT Parks and Conservation Service

Another interesting aspect of note, is that out of the four Agency Logo’s used in the first edition only two are the same today .the Gang-Gang and the Lyrebird!

Since June 1987 a number of Program Coordinators have also passed through the Alps program, each bringing to the newsletter their own little creative touches. Over the years News from the Alps still remains the most effective vehicle for communicating the tangible benefits of a unique cross border cooperative management program.

Happy 21st edition…

BMcN

Call for Project Proposals 2000/2001

It’s time to consider and develop the 2000 /2001 cooperative works program for the Australian Alps national parks.

Criteria for projects are listed below, however if you believe a proposed project is of high value to the improved management of the Australian Alps (but outside the criteria) please submit it also for consideration by the Liaison Committee.

The timetable for consideration of project proposals is shown in the table below.

Project Proposal Forms are available from and could be returned to

Brett McNamara, Program Coordinator
ph. (02) 62071694, Fax. (02) 62072901

Criteria for projects under the Australian Alps – Co-operative Management Program

All project proposals are considered on their merits in terms of implementation of the Australian Alps Strategic Plan 1996-99 (Copies are available from Brett McNamara). Projects have the greatest chance of success if they also meet the following criteria:

  • have outcomes that have application to park management in at least two of the States/Territory,
  • result (either directly or on implementation) in on-ground benefits to the management of the AAnps,

The Liaison Committee will consider supporting on-ground works (on a cost-sharing basis with an Agency) where the project:

  • involves implementation of a strategic approach developed under the MOU,
  • has direct cross-border benefits, and
  • has priority support for continuance and/or maintenance by the Agency.

The AAnp program is operated on a budget of only $400,000 pa, and while no funding limits are set, for guidance, project funding in the range of $5,000 to $50,000 per annum should be considered.

An application form should be completed for each project proposal.

Project proponents are strongly urged to speak directly with Working Group convenors to determine the working group priority for future projects.

Working Group Convenors are

  • Natural Heritage
    • Trish Macdonald
      Ph (02) 62072900
  • Cultural Heritage
    • Kathryn Maxwell
      Ph (02) 6274 251
  • Recreation and Tourism
    • Karen Civil
      Ph. (02) 6207 2170
  • Community Relations
    • Odile Arman ph.
      (02) 6207 2088
Timetable for consideration of project proposals
31 August 1999 Opening of Call-for-Projects
29 Oct 1999 Close of Call-for-Projects
1 Nov – 31 Dec 1999 Working Groups meet to assess and rate project proposals within 3-yr Strategic view
1- 2 February 2000 Presentation by Working Group Convenors of project proposals and AALC considers preliminary listing of project proposals.
AALC “In-principle ” support given to project proposals
Feb 2000- April 2000 Working groups refine “in -principle support” projects and determine implementation processes
27 – 28 April 2000 Final presentation by Working Group Convenors, AALC endorses details of projects and implementation
May – June 2000 Working Groups call for external tenders if required
July 2000 Working Groups commence projects

Science in High Places

Revisiting the Ecological Baseline

A previous AALC project “Science in High Places” (Griffiths & Robin 1994) looked at the cultural significance of scientific sites across the Australian Alps. Following on from this project, the AALC commissioned the establishment of a Scientific Sites Database. The aims of the current project were to produce a report and complete a database to document the scientific sites established in AAnp’s reserves; to review the database of sites and to identify which sites, if any, should be re-surveyed or re-established for assessment and further monitoring.

Jo Clarke in New South Wales has been carrying out the majority of the project work. This includes constructing the database to store all Scientific Sites across the Australian Alps and compiling those records for NSW. For ACT and Victoria, Brian Terrill and Warwick Papst, respectively, have documented the Scientific Sites for their respective states and produced a report detailing the process and outcomes.

To date the project has produced a number of exciting outcomes:

  • An ACCESS database, which includes three parts, Site details, References and Contacts. The database also has a manual titled ‘Instructions for use of the Scientific Sites Database’.
  • A report ‘Science in High Places: Research and Monitoring in the Australian Alps. “Introduction and Sites in New South Wales” by Jo Clarke .
  • A document that contains information on selected long-term scientific sites in Kosciuszko National Park. As well as detailed information on methods, locations, photographic records and publications for each of these sites.
  • The Australian Alps Liaison Committee is keen to ensure wide application and use of the database amongst park agencies as well as tertiary institutions. A brochure outlining the project and the tangible benefits of the database has been produced.

To use and view the Australian Alps national parks Scientific Sites Database contact one of the following agencies:

  • NSW NPWS
    Genevieve Wright
    02 6450 5555
  • Parks Victoria
    Evan McDowell
    03 5755 1577
  • ACT Parks & Conservation Service
    Trish Macdonald
    02 62072900

Stream Health Monitoring in the Australian Alps

The use of biological rather than chemical methods for assessing water quality has been increasing in the last decade. The Australian River Assessment Scheme (AUSRIVAS) has been developed and provides a standardised, easy to use, and rapid method for assessing the relative health of streams. AUSRIVAS models compare predicted and observed benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages to detect ecological status of streams. The application of the AUSRIVAS approach and the development of an “Alps” model will introduce “river health” as a focus for catchment management initiatives in the Australian Alps National Parks. Also, the project will provide a benchmark of stream condition in the Alps.

Stage 1 of the project was completed in 1998/99. This entailed a literature review of water quality studies in the Alps and the design of a sampling strategy, with reports on both of these components available now.

Stage 2 will involve the sampling of approximately 95 sites, analysis of data, development of the “Alps” model, and holding information seminars for park staff. So stay tuned for the dates of the seminars nearest to you.

Further information about the project is available from Mark Lintermans, phone (02) 6207 2117

Feral Horse Monitoring

The Australian Alps national parks in conjunction with Parks Victoria have began a monitoring project to assess the environmental impact of Feral Horses in the Cobberas area of the Alpine National Park. This project was initiated by the ‘Friends of the Cobberas’ and funded by the AALC and Parks Victoria.

The primary focus of the project has been to develop, through a consultancy, a long-term vegetation monitoring program which will enable measurement and assessment of the level of impact (or risk) that feral horses have on the vegetation condition of the Alpine National Park in the Cobberas area. The study areas incorporate the alpine wet heathland and snow-gum grassy woodland broad vegetation communities.

The project specifically involves three parts:

  • a replicated exclosure experiment to assess effects of grazing on floristic composition of intensively grazed site.
  • a replicated exclosure experiment to assess impacts on stream bank and bed condition, and
  • an unreplicated set of photopoint monitoring points to qualitatively record recovery of wallows and trackways.

This is a pilot project which could potentially be replicated in other vegetation communities, in order to develop a better understanding of the impact of horses on a broader range of alpine vegetation. The annual monitoring and data collection will be carried out by the ‘Friends of the Cobberas’ volunteer group, under the guidance of Parks Victoria staff.

The monitoring program that has been developed is scientifically sound, and will, in the long-term, deliver comprehensive findings about specific impacts of horses on these alpine vegetation communities. The resultant data, along with the wealth of knowledge that exists within relevant stakeholder groups and the enthusiasm of the volunteers will hopefully enable land management agencies across the alps, to cooperatively develop a strategy for the management and monitoring of feral horses into the long-term

With the appropriate balance of scientific data and community involvement, it can be guaranteed that such strategies will have the necessary support to succeed and, to ultimately conserve, protect and enhance these outstanding natural areas.

For more information on the project contact

Scott Perkins
Project Manager
Parks Victoria
(03) 5155 9235

Heritage Buildings Training for Alps Staff

During May 1999 over 20 staff attended the Heritage Buildings Training Course which was commissioned by the Cultural Heritage Working Group.

The course was designed, organised and run by Canberra historian Matthew Higgins. Participating staff came from the Alps parks in the ACT, NSW and Victoria, and there were also staff from parks and reserves beyond the official Alps areas, including Tasmania.

The course aimed to introduce key principles, skills and information required for the conservation of heritage buildings in the high country. It achieved this through a careful mix of theory and practice, through discussing the principles underlying conservation work and then showing how this work was undertaken in the field. Presenters at the course included heritage professionals, members of the Kosciusko Huts Association (KHA), and park staff.

The course began in Canberra on Monday 3 May with a series of formal sessions that included spoken papers, video, slides etc. Papers looked at the Burra Charter and conservation plans, and how these documents were applied on site. The KHA’s method of operations was explained, and selected park staff were able to talk of conservation work in their areas. Participants received details of tradespeople working in the heritage building field, and also a copy of the recently published NPWS Guide to Building Conservation Works.

Then on Tuesday participants visited London Bridge Homestead (Googong Foreshores), and Brayshaws Hut and Westermans Homestead (Namadgi), where presenters explained how these significant places had been conserved over several years of effort. Next day the group walked to Waterhole Hut (Namadgi) and after assessing the site, carried out a series of tasks which included the scarfing of a post, the replacement of two rafters in the roof, and the sorting and identification of materials from the collapsed chimney and verandah to enable these elements to be later reconstructed.

On the last day, at Currango Homestead (Kosciuszko), the group learned of the conservation work carried out there by NPWS and then attended a traditional timbercraft session during which staff were able to use tools like broadaxe and adze etc. Tasks here included squaring of a corner post, adzing of a bottom plate, splitting of roof shingles, use of a mortising axe and splitting of slabs. Many of these materials will be used in an Alps hut in due course.

The course also included after-dinner speakers on a wide range of topics. Catering in the bush was by courtesy of Bungendore SES who contributed to the convivial nature of the experience. Feedback indicates that the course was an outstanding success, and was highly regarded by those who attended.

Having a go at Historic Huts

A participants perspective…

“The old fellas would have been shocked to see a woman using a broad axe” declared Stuart Garner as he scrutinised Candy Candaria’s’ newly acquired skill in traditional timbercraft. Candy was one of 16 participants on the Heritage Buildings Training Course, run by the Australian Alps Liaison Committee from the 3rd to the 6th May.

The course aimed to introduce Alps field staff to the principles, skills and information required for conservation of heritage buildings. In other words, after completing the course, when confronted with an old tin hut in an advanced state of decay that ‘something needs to be done about’, instead of getting that stressed feeling and a desire to take long service leave until the problem goes away, course participants could boldly go forth and save the ailing abode from sinking into obscurity. Such was the usefulness of the course that facilitator Matthew Higgins put together, all this was achieved in just 4 days!

The first day dealt with the heavy stuff; Mike Pearson’s presentation Don’t be afraid of the Burra Charter reassured participants that they could tackle that old tin hut while David Scott explained that Conservation plans made easy was not a contradiction in terms. Pip Giovanelli’s session Conservation of vernacular buildings: applying the policy – explaining the techniques was of great practical use to field staff in that he illustrated how he has dealt with the disparities which can exist between heritage conservation ethics and physically conserving a building in the real world

Day 2 dawned bright and sunny and entailed a drive in the country to London Bridge Homestead, Googong Foreshores. ACT ranger Dave Whitfield showed how field staff at the reserve have been able to restore a homestead that was, according to some, beyond help. The afternoon was spent in the southern end of Namadgi at Brayshaw’s and Westerman’s Huts. The Kosciusko Huts Association has extensively restored both and Maurice Sexton and Allan Bendall explained some of the trials, tribulations and techniques involved. Course participants then languished overnight at the Mt Clear Campground. All can now verify that the campground really is located in a frost hollow.

Day 3 was another perfect Namadgi day. After defrosting first thing, the group headed to Waterhole Hut, which is the next major restoration project to be undertaken by KHA in Namadgi. Participants worked out what the priorities were for the site then set about doing the work. The collapsed chimney and veranda were measured and drawn, broken rafters replaced, a burnt out upright scarped and significant fabric salvaged for later use. Under the guidance of David Scott, Maurice Sexton and Allan Bendall, a great deal was achieved in a short period of time.

Then it was off to Currango Homestead in Kosciuszko National Park, via the Snow Goose at Adaminaby (hut restoration is very thirsty work). Once the cross border pool challenge was complete we arrived at Currango on darkness to be greeted by the after dinner presenter Harry Hill bearing some wonderful pumpkin soup he had cooked. Harry continued to spoil us for the rest of the evening and following day with his amusing anecdotes and gourmet delights.

The final day involved a tour of Currango with David Scott followed by the timbercraft exercise under the excellent tuition of Stuart Garner and David Eddy. Participants learnt how to split slabs, square posts, make shingles and use an adze and broad axe with varying degrees of success.

Overall, the course was well worth attending. Matthew Higgins achieved a good balance of theory and practical exercises. The final two days spent carrying out conservation works were particularly useful. The course will be repeated and I would recommend it to all Alps field staff. It was good fun too!

Amanda Carey
Ranger
Namadgi National Park

Evaluation of Minimal Impact Codes

An evaluation of the seven Australian Alps Minimal Impact Codes by consultant Dr Elizabeth Beckmann has shown that they are effective at communicating messages of minimal impact behaviour to Alps users, but that distribution methods need improving.

The study involved extensive consultation across the Australian Alps region with a range of stakeholders, including about 60 recreation user groups and ecotourism operators, more than 100 park visitors and about 30 Alps national parks and information centre staff. While most target audiences showed good awareness of the basic Minimal Impact messages, the more specific messages still need stressing through effective education. While park users would prefer minimal impact information to come directly from Australian Alps national park staff, especially rangers, there was strong support for the Code leaflets.

Dr Beckmann identified strengths and weaknesses in the Codes, and made recommendations for distribution, and for effective redevelopment when present stocks are exhausted.

Visitor Monitoring Workshop

The following is a participant perspective on a recent workshop held on visitor monitoring, the workshop was the first in a series of ‘Best Practice’ workshops schedule over the next two years…

It is generally first impressions that last and it was my pleasure to discover that my experiences at the Australian Alps national parks Visitor Monitoring Workshop were as enjoyable and worthwhile throughout the seminar as they were at the start. The venue set amongst the autumnal gardens of the LaTrobe University, Beechworth Campus was spectacular and the camaraderie that quickly developed amongst the participants was most welcoming.

The presenters were well prepared, informative and when appropriate, very humorous. They painted vivid pictures of a variety of experiences, problems, solutions and situations related to visitor monitoring. One tends to get wound up in one’s own situation and it is both informative and salutary to realise that there are other people/places having the same experiences as you as well as those having vastly different ones, and all related to visitors in our parks and resorts!

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided a more casual and often very valuable opportunity to meet and network with the other participants. People from a wide variety of locations shared anecdotes and wisdom over a glass of wine and good food. Competition was fierce in the Australian Alps trivia quiz with much controversy over some of the questions and answers.

As a participant from an Alpine Resort, rather than a National Park, it was gratifying to share in the collective enhancement of knowledge and to connect with people who are both passionate and like minded about their area. I congratulate Cath and all the organisers and look forward to further gatherings.

Elisa Bertuch
Executive Officer – Corporate Services
Mount Hotham Resort Management
P.O. Box 188
Bright Victoria 3741

Phone – (03) 5759 3550
Fax – (03) 5759 3693

Website – http://www.mthotham.com.au

Recreational Opportunity Mapping

The Recreation and Tourism Working Group identified the need to establish a model that park managers could use to gather information and assist in making decisions about recreational settings and activities within the Australian Alps national parks.

After the initial pilot study completed in 1998 which developed a recreation planning model, Missing Link was commissioned to undertake Stage 1 to determine a set of potential sites where the model should be applied.

The objectives of Stage 1 were to identify and map individual unit areas representing a class from the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS); to identify recreational activities and facilities for each area mapped with a ROS class; and to identify visitor management issues for each area mapped. The project also aimed to identify the areas with the greatest visitor management issues for potential application of a recreation planning model and to involve parks staff in the data collection and in doing so, increase their understanding of visitor management.

The project brief for Stage 1 of the Recreation Strategy focused on documenting and mapping the current recreation settings across the Australian Alps National Parks. There is still further scope for analysing the results of this stage of the project and to improve the decision making process regarding the implementation of the recreation planning model in strategic areas.

Community Benchmark Awareness Survey

The Community Relations Working Group have 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 cooperative management program.

These findings will be used in the development of future community awareness and visitor management programs. Worthington Di Marzio have undertaken 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 on the general awareness levels and satisfaction 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.

The mountain protected areas network of WCPA/IUCN

Because of the three-dimensional nature of mountains, their heterogeneity of environments within short distance, their geologic dynamism, their being usually less accessible, and their climatic extremes, the management of mountain protected areas around the world has many common elements not usually shared by other kinds of protected areas.

They also have a higher proportion of inhabitants from vanishing cultural minorities and a higher concentration of sacred sites. There are tough problems of search and rescue and altitude health problems. Fragile alpine environments are difficult to restore if overuse occurs. They are the critical upper watersheds of the world’s rivers. These and several other special characteristics of mountain environments create a strong community of interest and concern among managers of protected areas and scientists who work in them.

These factors help to explain the community of interest and camaraderie of a network of some 390 managers and scientists around the world who work in mountain protected areas. It also includes some alpinists and mountain trekkers who seriously support mountain protection. Sixty- four countries are represented, and some of the world’s most spectacular or well-known National Parks, World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves or other protected area (PA) designations.

The Network’s glue is provided by the Mountain Theme of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), based in Gland, Switzerland. The WCPA Vice-Chair for Mountains is Professor Lawrence (Larry) Hamilton. In Australia, Lee Thomas from Environment Australia is the Vice Chair on the WCPA Steering Committee for Australia and New Zealand.

Along with Linda, Larry produces a newsletter “Mountain Protected Areas UPDATE” as a free quarterly to help keep Network members in communication, and aware of what is going on in the mountain world. This is volunteer work, though expenses are met by a modest budget from WCPA for the newsletter and a few other activities each year.

A gratifyingly large number of Network members have been able to engage in workshops and conferences sponsored by WCPA or other parts of IUCN, and this strengthens our interaction and sense of community. For instance, in 1995 with WCPA seed money of only US$4,000 and heroic fundraising efforts by Australian AALC partners, we were able to organise a travelling seminar/workshop on Transborder Cooperation in Mountain Protected Areas.

This was held at several sites in the Australian Alps and brought together 35 network members from sets of border parks around the world. The working groups produced a set of guidelines to which we added case studies, and produced a booklet “Transborder Cooperation in Protected Area management” (Hamilton, Mackay, Worboys, Jones and Manson, 1996) which was a joint effort between the Australian Alps Liaison Committee and WCPA/IUCN.

A very real product and benefit of the Network which is more difficult to quantify, is the function of putting people with similar interests in touch with one another. But good examples come to light from time to time. For instance, a formal park partnership between national park Alpi Marittime (Italy) and Huascaran National Park (Peru) was initiated through UPDATE, and it is now sanctioned by both governments and financially supported by EUROPARC. A partnership between New York State’s Adirondack Park and Italy’s Abruzzo national Park also grew out of contacts made through the Network.

In spring 1998 a Regional Coordinator was appointed for Africa, Peter Blignaut, and he is now promoting regional activities and issues a regional newsletter (drawing on UDPATE). We hope to have such a regional group for Australia/New Zealand and steps are being taken, with Graeme Worboys. Meanwhile however, through Brett McNamara and the AALC, Brett has generously offered to reproduce and distribute UPDATE to Australian Alps staff who would like to receive it. If you would like to receive your own copy of UPDATE direct, please contact Brett.

And, because our funds available were about to become insufficient to maintain the newsletter, AALC has made a donation to ensure its continuance through the year 2000. The whole Network is much indebted to you folks.

This is being done under the World Commission on Protected Areas/IUCN with the belief that there is value in inter-regional exchange. Australian readers are urged to send pertinent information about his or her Mount Protected Area experience to the Mountain Vice-Chair at the address given.

With kind regards.

Professor Lawrence (Larry) Hamilton,
342 Bittersweet Lane
Charlotte Vermont 05445
USA

Murray mallee partnership

Sometime ago the Australian Alps national parks provided a presentation to a number of interested parties who were keen to learn from the Alps program regarding the establishment of a cross border cooperative management arrangement… . Recently the Murray Mallee partnership became a reality…

‘Conservation without Borders’

A new partnership in conservation has recently been established within the Murray Mallee.

Launched in Mildura on 12 March 1999 by State Ministers, Government representatives and the Commonwealth, the partnership brings together the Department of Environment, Heritage & Aboriginal Affairs and Bookmark Biosphere Trust in South Australia, Parks Victoria and Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Victoria, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and Environment Australia.

The partners have established a Memorandum of Understanding which aims to protect the mallee region within the Murray Darling Basin and will officially ‘ remove the borders’ in conservation of the Murray Mallee country.

The partners have agreed to, where possible and appropriate: –

  • Facilitate joint operations
  • Cooperate in the provision of staff training and development opportunities
  • Share relevant information, ideas and expertise
  • Promote public awareness, participation and improved services to the community
  • Undertake cooperative analysis of information arising from research
  • Consult in the preparation of management plans and guidelines that compliment management practices

A Steering Committee of Trevor Miles,(Chairman), Parks Victoria, Ken Stokes, DEHAA, Neil Ward, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Greg Hayes, DNRE, Mike Harper, Bookmark Biosphere Trust and Paul Jewell, Environment Australia along with an Operations Committee of Andrew Marshall, Parks Victoria, Paul Seager, DEHAA, Jo Gorman NSW Parks Service, Peter Kelly, DNRE and Andy McQuie is currently in the process of developing a Directions Paper for 1999 – 2002 which will address a number of specific objectives.

One of the early projects that the partnership is working on is the development of an integrated Murray Mallee Touring map which will highlight the conservation values of the mallee and areas of particular interest to tourists.

For more information contact

Ken Stokes, Regional Manager, Department of Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal
ph. (08) 85952111

Around the Agencies: Correspondents’ Report

Victoria

An Update From South of the Border… Chris Rose, Chief Ranger, Alpine District

Staff News

It is now about 12 months since both Stuart Ord (Vic East Regional Manager) and myself (Chief Ranger Alpine District) have now been in our current positions. This has certainly helped us understand the complexities of the area and the enormous challenges that lay ahead.

The Alpine District has replaced the key positions lost this year with staff moving on to other and new career opportunities. Dave Burton, who recently moved to Orbost as the RIC for Snowy River NP, Errinuda NP and several major conservation reserves on the east coast, has been replaced by Kris Rowe as RIC of the Eastern Alps. Dave Burton will remain involved in the Alps program continuing his good work on the Cultural Heritage Working Group. Kris Rowe will be well known to many of you for his excellent work at Buffalo and on the Rec and Tourism Working Group (just goes to show it pays to be involved!).

Scott Thomson has recently won the position of RIC Upper Murray. Scott’s position has been moved from Corryong to Tallangatta which consolidates the unit’s staff and activities in Tallangatta. Scott has a wealth of experience and is a welcome addition to the team.

The Manager Alpine Grazing position has taken some time to fill but I am pleased to announce that Jeff Carboon has accepted the position and will be starting in mid August. Jeff is an experienced RIC and has recently completed a secondment to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. This is a challenging position and one in which I know Jeff cannot wait to get into.

We also welcome back Gill Anderson, Peter Jacobs and Allison Marion who have all enjoyed extended leave this year, and Andrew Markwick who recently travelled to England and Wales as part of a PV travel award to look at best value tendering and track construction techniques.

Works Programs – 1999/2000

This year promises to be yet another big year for PV staff involved in the Alps. Flood and storm damage will continue to receive funds this year as we finish repairing damage from June and September 1998’s floods. In addition, initiative funding continues to provide money for key road works, 4 WD tracks and environmental projects within the Alps.

Importantly, Parks Victoria has received capital funds to carry out works on the Feathertop Razorback Track and to implement works along the Great Alpine Road on sites such as Carmichael Falls (near Dinner Plain) and Oriental Claims Historic Area (near Omeo). The aim of the works is to harden areas and present them in a quality manner allowing for increased sustainable tourism growth from the Great Alpine Rd marketing and summer resort use. In addition, Parks Victoria will be undertaking a recreational trails strategy to try to ensure that tourism growth and environmental sustainability are matched into the future when planning and managing our track network.

The Wonangatta is often referred to as the spiritual centre of the Alpine National Park. The valley has an enormous range of issues that we as park managers have to address and to help this, PV will be undertaking an environmental action plan for the area this year. The plan aims to priorities risks, set objectives etc for the area and importantly, consider all available information.

Alpine Grazing management is a key output for Parks Victoria in the recently developed 1999/2000 PV plan. Management of the Caledonia fire affected area, finalising the license management systems and developing and implementing monitoring systems are key objectives.

Combined with the AALC works program and the myriad of business as usual issues, it is sure to be another huge year for our parks and our people.

New South Wales

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

Wilderness assessments

During July, District staff attended a number of community meetings to discuss proposals for more wilderness areas in Kosciuszko National Park. The wilderness proposals have arisen from the Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) underway across southeastern NSW. In Kosciuszko there are eight separate wilderness assessment study areas totalling 103,00 hectares.

The winds of change

Staff meetings have been held across Southern Region to discuss a major restructure of the NPWS. In Southern Region, Janet Mackay was appointed change coordinator for the region, a position aimed at facilitating integration of the former Snowy and Southern regions, as well as being a contact point for staff during the restructure. In the meantime, Graeme Enders will keep a steady hand at the tiller for the Snowy Region over the next six months.

Staff News

Tumut staff are counting the days to the end of the year – not in anticipation of the new millennium, but looking to the day when they can move from their current cramped quarters into a new office attached to the Tumut Region Visitor Centre. Construction on the new building began in late July and will include much-needed facilities such as an operations room.

Resorts

Resort and Roads staff have been flat-out in what has turned out to be very busy season.

Winter got off to a good start with the re-opening of the Alpine Way above Thredbo following reconstruction. Resort staff have begun work on implementing the many initiatives associated with the Perisher Range Master Plan, following approval by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning in late May. The plan will see construction of an additional 1320 beds in the Perisher Range resorts as well as many environmental improvements.

ACT

The Gang-Gang gossip… Bill Woodruff, Operations Manager, ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Building our way to a better Parks Service

The past few months has seen an unprecedented amount of construction work being undertaken to improve ACT Parks and Conservation Service facilities.

After many months of almost intolerable disruptions, including many weeks with little or no heating during a Canberra winter, the Athllon Drive Parks and Conservation Service Headquarters building is finally complete. It has been worth the wait.

The new “light and bright” headquarters building boasts a large Community Support area with greatly improved interpretation layout and storage space, comfortable staff amenities, and a new reception and administration area. Park staff from Canberra South District have done a marvellous job of re-landscaping the building surrounds as their time permitted over the past few months.

As I sit here Canberra South District staff are moving from the transportable building at Athllon Drive, soon to be converted to a conference room, back up into the more permanent and comfortable main building. In addition to his summer role as a fire fighter, weed sprayer and general park worker, Les Caldrmoski from Canberra South District has once again shown his versatility by constructing, plastering and painting much of the internal fit-out of both the Headquarters and District wings of the new extensions.

The new building is due to be officially opened by ACT Urban Services Minister, Brendon Smyth, on 18 August.

Construction has also commenced on the new Regional Visitor Centre at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. This highly innovative building will be a model of how clean technologies can be incorporated into the construction of commercial buildings. The building will boast the latest in active and passive solar design, use of building materials with low embodied energy (low energy inputs required to produce such as mud bricks), and chemical free treatment of waste water using hydroponics and natural rush filters through constructed marsh gardens.

On 13 August our Minister will be on hand at the site to receive the first instalment of $50,000 of the $120,000 grant provided by the Australian Greenhouse Office in recognition of the important role this building will play in improving construction design and construction techniques. The restaurateur awarded the concessions license for the new building will join the Minister in laying the first blocks of a mud brick sculpture depicting the Bogong Moth, vital in interpreting the significance of Tidbinbilla, which will be integrated into the building.

The new Visitor Centre is expected to be operational by November, with the official opening due early next year.

Commonwealth

What’s the buzz with Parks Australia… Paul Stevenson, Environment Australia

The new Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act has been passed by federal Parliament and will come into force in July 2000. Before then the associated regulation will need to be drafted. The new Act will effect endangered species programs, World Heritage Areas and Ramsar Sites as well as regulating the park management activities of Environment Australia.

Lee Thomas, Chair of the Liaison Committee, also represents the Australia and New Zealand Region on the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. The Region comprises some 120 members who are experts in protected area management, planning and policy.

During the year, Mr Thomas convened a global task force on behalf of the Commission which led to the publishing of guidelines for the valuation of the economic benefits of protected areas. These guidelines were published in December 1998 jointly by IUCN and the University of Cardiff and are aimed at providing practical guidance to protected area managers and economists. Another book recently released by the Australian Committee for IUCN is Figgis, Penelope (1999) Australia’s National Parks and Protected Areas: Future Directions – a Discussion Paper.

Lee also attended a regional meeting of WCPA Members in July 1999 at Brisbane. The meeting agenda included discussion on recently developed policies on mining and indigenous people in protected areas, providing a wider appreciation of the issues to be gained by members and enable feedback to IUCN of those views held in the Region.

Australian Alps national parks 1999 /2000 Works program

The 1999 /2000 cooperative works program for the Australian Alps national parks has been developed and approved by the Australian Alps Liaison Committee. The AALC would like to record its appreciation to the various working groups who have assisted in developing this financial years works program. The work program represents a mixture of exciting new projects along with enhancing those developed from previous years. For more details on a particular project contact the Program Coordinator:

Brett McNamara
Phone (02) 6207 1694
Mobile 0417 292885

Recreation & Tourism Working Group

Project Title Brief Project Description Project Budget
Recreation Model Strategy ROS Mapping The overall strategy will assist managers to make logical and defendable decisions in relation to visitor use of Parks by clearly identifying the follow up stage characteristics of each setting and factors that may influence change and recreational opportunities offered. $3,000
Best Practice Workshop Series: International Waste Management Conference Convene an International best practice conference on waste management within protected areas. Overall aim; increase the level of knowledge, expertise and interest in the latest technology and information currently available on waste mgmt. issues $32,000
Aust. Alps Walking Track Strategy Group Provide financial assistance to the continuance of the AAWT Strategy Committee involving interested stakeholders and agencies representatives- implementation of AAWT Mgmt. Strategy recommendations $1,000
Learning Materials for Tour Operators Development of existing AAnp Tour Operators Training manual to provide appropriate and consistent learning materials to compliment. $5,000
Aust. Alps Walking Track : Works Program Re-route AAWT in the ACT As recommended in the AAWT strategy, re-route a section of the Alps track from Booroomba rocks to new Honeysuckle campground (NNP), realign existing track from busy road $10,000
X-country Ski Trail Working Group: Guidelines and Standards Facilitate the establishment of a working group to investigate issues related to x-country skiing activities within the Australian Alps national parks $3,000

Cultural Heritage Working Group

Project Title Brief Project Description Project Budget
Research and Implementation Strategy A desktop study that reviews, consolidates and analyses existing information on AAnp cultural heritage values in a national context, identifies gaps in knowledge of such values, presents approaches to address such gaps and identifies strategies to implement previously identified actions which are of a high priority but which remain outstanding $40,000
Feasibility Study: AAnp Cultural Heritage Residential Course The project is design to investigate the feasibility of developing an AAnp Cultural Heritage Course, similar in concept to that of the successful Alpine ecology course. A consultant would be engaged to identify the training needs of park staff and stakeholders and to develop course content, logistics, availability of presenters, and a detailed budget analysis $7,000

Community Relations Working Group

Project Title Brief Project Description Project Budget
Community Liaison Officer Employ a part-time community liaison officer to promote general community awareness programs, media liaison and undertake identified project work. $24,000
Distribution and Marketing Australian Alps Publications Explore options to engage the services of a distribution / marketing agent to actively distribute AAnp products. Contractor to ID, & distribute Alps products to retail and other outlets. Brief to be developed seeking EOI $5,000
Frontline of the Alps training w/shop Provide training for frontline staff in a range of hospitality/tourism operations. Training to enhance knowledge base of participants with regard to the Australian Alps national parks. $13,500
Display Support program Project to support the development and or refurbishment of Australian Alps national park’s display in VIC and tourist outlets around the Alps. Financial assistance provided on a dollar for dollar basis. $10,000
Aust. Alps Icon Brochure Design and print a revised/updated brochure for general distribution to reprint visitor centres, park offices, students and schools. Folded DL, full colour, environ. friendly. Stock, 10,000 $10,000
Web page maintenance Continuing maintenance, development and promotion of the Australian Alps website $7,000

Natural Heritage Working Group

Project Title Brief Project Description Project Budget
Rehabilitation Manual& Learning Program Develop learning and accreditation program for adoption and application of existing draft manual. Conduct training workshop through the Australian Alps national parks $30,000
Stream Health Monitoring Undertake site sampling, analysis of data and development of model including indexing of stream condition. Conduct information and training w/shops $80,000
Kosciuszko Alpine Flora: Reprint proposal Republish revised, updated CSIRO reference book, first published in ’79. Two versions produced popular easy reading field use and authoritative alpine flora reference book $23,500
Effects of aerial baiting Conduct simulated dog-control program using non-toxic biomarker to on Tiger Quolls ascertain percentage of quolls effected by aerial baiting technique. $18,000
Population Ecology of Brumbies Improve current limited knowledge of the population ecology of feral horses in the Alps. Provide sound scientific basis for future management decisions $23,000

A day in the life of a Ranger… !

Given the geographic size of the State of Victoria, its population density, extremes of climate, and incredible biological and geophysical diversity, Parks Victoria Rangers are often responsible for an extreme range of land and stakeholder management issues. This phenomenon is even more evident for the Victorian members of the Australian Alps Working Groups.

Dave Burton of the Cultural Heritage Working Group, is the Ranger In Charge of the Buchan, Orbost and Bendoc Management Units. This area encompasses some of the most spectacular mountain country from the Alpine, Snowy River, and Errinundra National Parks, to the sandy beaches of Cape Conran Coastal Park, and the Fauna rich Ewings Marsh and associated wetlands.

With such diverse geographic responsibilities, issues range from alpine grazing and brumby management to the protection of fish habitat and jetty construction. Is it any wonder there is a wetsuit hanging next to the Gore-Tex jacket in the cupboard !

Recently Dave and his colleagues were involved in an interesting little exercise, that of blasting the sandbar to open the Bemm River entrance for the protection of property in the Sydenham Inlet basin.

The life of a Ranger is never boring…

Dates for your Diary
27 -29 October 1999 Annual Field Workshop
Upper Murray Resort, Walwa, Vic
Theme: Volunteer Management
15 -18 November 1999 Cross -Culture Training Workshop
Currango Homestead
Kosciuszko National Park
31 August 1999 Call for Project Proposals 2000/2001

Share your copy of News from the Alps

If you think someone else might be interested in reading about news from the Alps, please pass it on to them or suggest they ask for their own copy by contacting the Program Coordinator.

Please tell us your stories

What makes your ‘slice of heaven’ in the Australian Alps so appealing, tell the world. We want articles up to 500 words, with pictures on any topic; be it current issues facing land managers, to interesting and humorous stories about your work in the Australian Alps. A prize will be awarded for the most interesting article! Send your article, short story to the Program Coordinator ASAP.

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