Newsletter #26 – Spring 2001

A newsletter for people interested in the Australian Alps

Australian Alps Liaison Committee

Tidbit’s …

Australian Alps wins Tourism Award

The Australian Alps community awareness program has been recognised for its outstanding contribution to the tourism industry through an award received at the Canberra Region Tourism Awards 2001 ceremony in the category of “General Tourism Services”.

Odile Arman, Convenor of the Community Relations Working Group (CRWG), prepared the award submission, highlighting the Community Awareness Program. The program encompasses the activities that have led to the promotion of the Australian Alps as a premier tourist destination as well as raising awareness of the Australian Alps cooperative management program.

The key components of the awareness program, central to the award submission were the development and distribution of Australian Alps products (WildGuide Plants and Animals of the Australian Alps; Stories Among the Snowgums video; Australian Alps Touring Guide Map & Explore book), the travelling Alps displays, the icon brochure, the Australian Alps world wide web-page, Community Service announcements, “Frontline of the Australian Alps workshops” and the marketing strategy.

As a recipient of a regional award the Australian Alps community awareness program automatically goes forward with other regional and state winners for consideration by a national panel of judges in the Australian Tourism Awards. Odile and Chris Rose will represent the Alps national parks at the national awards ceremony in Hobart in November.

This award is testimony to the enormous contribution and strong commitment that past and present members of the CRWG have made to the Alps Cooperative Management Program. Congratulations and good luck in Tassie.

Wetland Ecology Course – Brolgas, Bell Frogs & Buttercups

A five day field based residential course
Date: Friday 30th November – Tuesday 4th December
Venue: Grampians Retreat & Field Studies Centre, Southern Grampians, Dunkeld, Victoria
Cost: $880 per participant (including all meals and accommodation)

The course, developed by Greening Australia, Victoria, aims to enhance participants understanding of wetland ecological processes and the ecology of wetland flora and fauna, and create better and more efficient wetland management outcomes. It is designed for land managers, educators, landholders, local governments and those interested in gaining a better understanding of the ecology of our wetland ecosystems.

Course Structure

The Wetland Ecology Course will focus on general ecological processes, providing information that is transferable to a variety of wetland communities. It will look directly at permanent, ephemeral and freshwater meadow wetland environments and cover the following topics:

  • Distribution & History: An overview of the distribution, types of wetlands and their conservation significance.
  • Structure, Function & Hydrology of Wetlands: How wetlands are formed, their processes and functions, the hydrological and catchment influences on wetlands.
  • Soils & Substrates: Developing and understanding how soils and substrates influence wetland ecology.
  • Flora: An investigation of wetland plant species diversity and distribution across a range of wetland types.
  • Fauna: A variety of wetland birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates will be examined.
  • Water Quality & Wetland Health: Looking at the impact of water quality on wetland systems and developing an understanding of issues that affect wetland health and survival.

For more details and to register contact:
Greening Australia Victoria Inc
PO Box 525
Heidelberg 3084
Or call Lydia Fehring (03) 94505302

The Alpine Ecology Course

This is an opportunity to learn about the plants animals landforms and soils that make up alpine ecosystems, and their significance for landuse and conservation issues.

The emphasis is on practical demonstration and field experience. Most sessions will be conducted in the field in small groups.

A detailed knowledge of botany, zoology or soils is not assumed – each session provides the basic knowledge needed. A set of course notes are provided.

Enquiries:
Lesley Sayer Phone: (03) 9479 2190 or Warwick Papst Phone: (03) 94791230

New Book release – “Discovering Mount Buffalo”

“Of all Victoria’s national parks, Mount Buffalo is perhaps the most generous in revealing its treasures. By car, by foot or on skis, novices on the outdoor trail are rewarded well for their efforts. Yet some of the most demanding of adventures are here too.”

So begins Discovering Mount Buffalo, the latest visitor guide from the Victorian National Parks Association. Compact but comprehensive, this invaluable resource will enhance the visitors experience of one of Victoria’s oldest and best loved national parks.

The guide, beautifully written by Philip Ingamells, is rich with Aboriginal and European history, contains fascinating tales of the plateau’s plants and animals and comprehensive all-season visitor information. Including 7 visitor maps covering all walking tracks, ski runs and cross-country ski trails, descriptions of 28 walks, graded according to difficulty, and heaps of colour photographs of animals, birds and flowers.

For more information contact:
Juliana Ryan
Victorian National Parks Association Publications Officer
Phone (03) 96569902

Clean Up Australia Day 2002, Sunday March 3

Clean Up Australia needs you! Volunteers have been a key to the success of Clean Up Australia Day for 12 years. The search is now on to find the leaders of 2002 to help make an important difference to the health of the Australian environment.

Since 1989, more than 6 million Australians have lent a hand to personally contribute to a healthier, cleaner environment on Clean Up Australia Day. As a result of these actions, 167,000 tonnes of waste has been removed from beaches, waterways, roadsides and parklands across the country – which adds up to around four million wheelie bins of waste!

There are many ways you or your organisation can get involved – and many benefits you receive when you do. The two most effective ways to get involved are to either nominate a site where you think a clean up is needed and become a Site Supervisor, or pick up a registration form from Clean Up Australia and join the army of volunteers on the day.

There is also a limitless range of activities that you or your organisation can undertake on the day. You can use the day to highlight an environmental issue in a local community, you can hold tree-plantings, education projects, recycling drives – the choice is yours.

Clean Up Australia founder and chairman Ian Kiernan urged all Australians to join the team.

“The Clean Up concept is simple, but it takes the efforts of each and everyone of us to make it work. I encourage everyone to get involved and discover just how successful the idea can be.”

Get involved now! Call Clean Up Australia on 1800 024 890 or log on to www.cleanup.com.au to find out more about Clean Up Australia Day 2002.

2000/01 in review …

The reporting period of 2000/2001 was one of ongoing achievement for the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC) in attaining excellence in protected area management. This was achieved through a continuing strong program of cross border liaison and cooperation amongst the managing agencies involved. The results of this cooperation have greatly enhanced the management and understanding of the Australian Alps national parks on a regional basis.

During the reporting period the Cultural Heritage Working Group(CHWG) developed and successfully delivered another, Communicating Across Cultures, indigenous issues awareness workshop. The workshop provided field based staff and managers working in the Australian Alps with an awareness into, and greater understanding of, the issues faced by contemporary Aboriginal people.

Another key initiative of the CHWG was the development of a Conservation and Presentation Strategy on the Mining Heritage of the Australian Alps. Stage one of the report has been completed laying the groundwork for the analysis of the historic sites and landscapes within the Australian Alps national parks. The final report will provide a framework for the management of the mining heritage of the Australian Alps and identify those historic mining places that should be developed for visitor use.

Natural Heritage Conservation management was further enhanced this reporting period with the production of an integrated, interactive electronic database using the information collected from earlier work on the ” Natural Treasures of the Australian Alps”. The database, developed by Peter Coyne of Environment Australia, has been designed to help provide field practitioners and decision makers with easy access to information on the status of the significant natural features of the Australian Alps and their immediate threats.

The success of the Community Awareness program for the Australian Alps has been highlighted this year through an award received for excellence in General Tourism Services as part of the Canberra Regional Tourism Industry Awards 2001. The award acknowledges the effectiveness of the key components of the program including: the development and distribution of Alps products and the “Frontline” of the Alps workshops.

Visitor facilities and services continued to be targeted with the AALC hosting a highly successful 5-day international workshop that examined the issue of Mountain Walking Track Management. Through a comprehensive program of plenary and concurrent sessions, site visits and industry exhibitions, delegates explored contemporary approaches to walking track construction and maintenance.

The role and activities of the AALC in introducing innovation, providing a forum for staff networking and co-ordination continues to be highly valued by staff managing the Australian Alps national parks. The response of staff has been to give their time in addition to their normal duties and become closely involved with the Australian Alps program.

This year will mark a “changing of the guard” in the Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program. As part of a new initiative to rotate the covenorship around the agencies I will be stepping down from the position of Convenor of the AALC. The Program Coordinators position will also be changing hands with the completion of a 3 year secondment by Brett McNamara from Environment ACT’s Parks and Conservation Service.

I would like to record my sincere thanks to the members of the working groups and to the AALC for their collective efforts in achieving excellence in cross border protected area management. I would also like to acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by Brett McNamara as the outgoing Program Coordinator.

The cooperative management strategies and implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding have been recognised internationally as world’s best practice. I believe last years achievements reflect the success and relevance of the Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program to land managers, stakeholders and to the wider community.

I look forward to working with the new Convenor and continuing my involvement with the highly successful cooperative management program as the Environment Australia representative on the AALC.

Lee Thomas
Convenor
Australian Alps Liaison Committee

Call for projects 2002/2003

The Australian Alps national parks (AAnp’s) is a cooperative management program administered by the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC).

The Australian Alps program consists of participating agencies working in partnership to achieve excellence in conservation management and sustainable use through a strong program of cross-border cooperation and liaison. A further objective of the agreement is to pursue the growth and enhancement of cooperative management so as to protect the nationally important values of the Australian Alps national parks.

As part of the 2002-2003 Cooperative Works Program, the AALC would welcome project proposals from any interested parties / individuals which assist in delivering the identified outcomes under the Australian Alps Strategic Plan 2000-2003. In addition the International Year of Mountains 2002 provides an opportunity for projects to highlight and promote this significant event. Below is a pro-forma for you to indicate a project you believe the AALC should consider. 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 for AALC’s consideration.

Timetable

The timetable for consideration of project proposals is:

8 October 2001 Opening of Call-for-Projects 2002 / 2003
14 -16 November 2001 Presentation by Working Group Convenors of current and future directions to participants at Program Development Workshop, Walwa,Victoria
30 November 2001 Close of Call-for-Projects 2002/ 2003
December 2001 – January 2002 Working Groups meet to assess and rate project proposals received within the context of Alps Strategic Plan 2000 -2003
February 2002 First Round Meeting, Walhalla. Presentation by Working Group Convenors of project proposals to AALC. Consideration and development of preliminary listing of project proposals
May 2002 Second Round Meeting, AALC and Working Group Convenors Funding/ Works Program Development Meeting
July 2002 Project Budget Allocated. Working Groups commence projects

Criteria for projects under the Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program

All project proposals are considered on their merits in terms of implementation of the Australian Alps Strategic Plan 2000 -2003. Projects have the greatest chance of success if they also meet the following criteria:

  1. Outcomes that have application to park management in at least two of the States/Territory,
  2. Result either directly or on implementation, in ‘on-ground’ benefits to the management of the AAnps,
  3. Promote and highlight the International Year of the Mountains in 2002 within the context 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 $280,000 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.

A project proposal application form should be completed for each project proposal.

To receive a Project Proposal Form contact Virginia Logan at the address given below:

Send completed project proposals by 30th November 2001 to:

Virginia Logan
Program Coordinator
Australian Alps
C/- Kosciuszko National Park
PO Box 2228
Jindabyne NSW 2627
Phone: (02) 6450 5635

Update on IYM Conference

The Australian IYM committee is yet to gain financial support for the celebration of International Year of the Mountains. However the committee has not quiet given up… yet. They are hoping that the possibilities may gain momentum as the year draws nearer.

On a more uplifting note the AALC are keen to mark the occasion of IYM with a significant event. As part of the 2001-2002 cooperative works program for the Alps the AALC have agreed to support the development, coordination and implementation of an international Conference/ Symposium in the mountains to celebrate and showcase the Australian Alps.

It has been decided that the Celebration and Conference will be held in Jindabyne between the 16th and 24th November 2002. It is anticipated that the conference will have a mountain region focus and provide the opportunity for staff, experts, the community and other stakeholders to share information about the Science, Heritage, Sustainable Tourism and Best Practice Management of the Australian Alps.

To coordinate the conference treacle will be combining forces with other strategic partners including: The CRC for Sustainable Tourism, Australian ICOMOS and the Australian Institute of Alpine Studies (AIAS). The organisers are also working with the Ecotourism Association of Australia (EAA) resorts, local tourism forums and the community.

A gathering of 30+ people, including strategic partners, the AALC and some members of the Alps Working Groups, meet in Canberra in July to workshop the broad framework of the proposed Symposium. It was agreed at the workshop that the conference should have 3 main themes with concurrent plenary sessions and field trips. The broad themes are Science/Natural Heritage, Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Mountain Tourism & Recreation.

We hope to engage the indigenous community in the conference and celebratory events to help facilitate an increased awareness and understanding of indigenous heritage and values of the Australian Alps. The Cultural Heritage Working group are currently undertaking a liaison project with the Aboriginal communities. The project will seek direction from Aboriginal people on future research opportunities and seek advice from the communities on how or if they would like to be involved in IYM.

A steering Committee has been formed to help guide the further development and planning of the Conference and four task force groups have been established to develop the 3 main streams of the Conference and associated events.

If anyone would like to be involved or would like further information please contact myself (details below) or one of the coordinators of the Task forces.

Scientific / Natural Heritage Dr Catherine Pickering (CRC for Sustainable Tourism)
Ph: (07) 5552 8259
Sustainable Mountain Tourism and Recreation Karen Civil (Environment ACT)
Ph: (02) 6207 2170
Cultural Heritage Alistair Grinbergs (Australia ICOMOS)
Ph: 0417 480 391
Events Cath Renwick (AAnp)
Ph: (02) 6250 9501

We look forward to hearing from you all – ideas and enthusiasm are welcome.

Cheers,
Virginia Logan
Program Coordinator
Australian Alps national parks
Cooperative Management Program
Ph: (02) 6450 5635

Mountain tourism Kenya style (part 2)… [to read Part 1]

Park fees

Like many parks services in Africa, Kenya Wildlife Service has a two-level pricing system for the parks. Residents pay lower fees in Kenyan shillings (e.g. 100ksh = around 2 dollars US per day for an adult), with non-residents paying higher entrance and camping fees in US dollars ($10 US). Fees are payable for each tourist, guide and porter, for each day in the park and for each nights camping as well as for any vehicles brought into the park. Individually numbered ‘receipts’ are given. These are regularly checked by staff within the park, and must be presented when leaving the park at the gate.

Parks regulations

A range of activities are prohibited in the park for safety and environmental reasons. Safety regulations include a ban on unaccompanied walkers in the park and on driving or walking on forest roads and paths at night. Buffalo and other large wildlife including leopard are found in the forests and posse a danger to tourists. My favourite national park sign was one in the thick bamboo belt that read ‘Danger-Wild Animals. Stay on the track, be audible and yield right of way.’

Environmental regulations include bans on cutting or destroying any vegetation, killing capturing or provoking animals, birds and reptiles, lighting fires, dumping rubbish, introducing domestic animals (other than pack animals) and carrying firearms, weapons or traps.

Impacts

The major impacts of tourism on Mt Kenya appear to be trampling damage along the main routes, untreated human waste, litter and increased risk of fire.

Trampling has highly visible impacts on the environment. The tracks on Mt Kenya consist of unformed badly maintained old roads and paths. Long sections of the tracks in the heath and alpine zone are highly eroded with complete loss of vegetation, along with compaction and/or loss of soil with the paths often up to a metre below surrounding soil. Extensive ribboning also occurs with multiple paths forming as walkers avoid mud, standing water and ditches. The lack of adequate drainage systems including banking and culverts result in extensive run off during rain storms, with some tracks acting as creek lines. In several areas erosion has resulted in the exposure of the underling bedrock. The damage to vegetation and soil is so extensive on the Naro Moro route, that one section is known as the notorious ‘vertical bog’.

At higher altitude erosion is less severe as sections of the tracks are on harder natural substrates, such as scree and boulder fields. Low temperatures at night result in the soil and scree becoming frozen, stabilising the ground. This frozen surface is utilised by tourists to ascend on a more solid substrate. A side-effect is less erosion along the tracks. However, when the soil around the rocks does defrost, mudslides can occur.

Untreated human waste is both an environmental and health problem. There are pit toilets at most huts. However, the cold conditions result in very little breakdown of the material. As a result the pit toilets, although often in stunning locations can be very unpleasant places to visit, even in the cold conditions. Consequently there is considerable deposition of faecal material and urine around the huts. Away from the huts, prominent rocks and other screens become informal toilet areas, again with little breakdown of faecal material, particularly at higher elevations. There is contamination of many of the water bodies, with faecal material running into tarns and creeks during the intense rainstorms. It is recommended that all drinking water is sterilised within the park.

There is an increased risk of fire from tourism, although fires are banned within the park. Stoves are used for cooking and heating. Most are kerosene based, although some tourists bring other types of stoves. Wild fires are still a risk, however, particularly at lower elevations from cigarette butts and illegal fires.

Rubbish is also an issue in the park, with plastic drink bottles and other litter seen along paths and around the huts. The dumping of rubbish is prohibited within the park and clean up days are organised by some guiding associations.

Around several of the huts, wildlife such as the rock hyrax and the mountain chats appear to have become habituated to humans. Animals and birds appear to deliberately seek out humans, moving within touching distance. For tourists this can be a positive experience, particularly for the charismatic fury hyraxs. Animal feeding both deliberate and accidental does not appear to be a major problem currently for either humans or wildlife.

Safety issues

The major safety issues for tourists on Mt Kenya are accidents, hypothermia and altitude sickness. Ease of access combined with the relatively high altitude of Mt Kenya result in many walkers and climbers suffering from altitude sickness. Around half the cases of the often fatal pulmonary oedema around the world occur on Mt Kenya (Blue and Stevenson 1998). The Kenya Wildlife Service is responsible for rescuing climbers and walkers in distress. The three gates along with one of the huts are manned with staff trained in high altitude rescue and basic first aid. Information about altitude sickness and procedures for dealing with an accident and notifying the parks staff are provided at the gates, on the map and in the guides for climbing and trekking. Still, every year there are fatalities on the mountain.

Dr Catherine Pickering is an academic with the School of Environmental and Applied Sciences at Griffith University. She is also the director of the Subprogram in Mountain Tourism for the CRC for Sustainable Tourism.

Dr Catherine Pickering
Ph: 07 5552 8259

Joint management for Namadgi

Prior to colonisation, Aboriginal Australians had a close connection with the area that is now Namadgi National Park – a connection that has been constrained over the last two centuries.

In the spirit of reconciliation, the ACT Government and a number of Ngunnawal groups earlier this year entered into an Agreement1 that acknowledges the members of these groups as people with an historical association with the area and offers them the grant of a Namadgi Special Aboriginal Lease. The Agreement also provides for the groups:

  • to participate in the management of Namadgi National Park
  • to be consulted on regional cultural issues
  • to be consulted on the development of amendments to legislation that will impact on Namadgi National Park.

The grant of the Namadgi Special Aboriginal Lease is conditional on the resolution of a native title claim over part of Namadgi National Park by an Aboriginal group that is not currently a signatory to the Agreement. Interim arrangements for the involvement of Aboriginal people in the management of Namadgi National Park have been put in place until this occurs.

An Interim Namadgi Advisory Board has been appointed to provide strategic advice in the preparation of a new Draft Plan of Management for Namadgi National Park and on current and emerging issues related to the protection of the park’s values. The Board consists of five members of the Ngunnawal community and five non-Aboriginal members with specific expertise. Board members are:

  • Matilda House (Ngunnawal community – Joint Chair)
  • Ian Fraser (naturalist, author, broadcaster, tour operator – Joint Chair)
  • Agnes Shea (Ngunnawal community)
  • Valda Connors (Ngunnawal community)
  • Fred Monaghan (Ngunnawal community)
  • Roslyn Brown (Ngunnawal community)
  • Dr Sue Briggs (Senior Research Scientist, NSW NPWS)
  • Dr Mike Pearson (Heritage Consultant)
  • Dianne Thompson (Conservation Groups representative)
  • Geoff Wells (Environment ACT – Planning and Legislation Unit).

The Board is currently finalising a discussion paper on issues it believes ought to be addressed in the new Draft Plan of Management.

A copy of the Agreement can be found at:
http://www.act.gov.au/government/department/cmd/comliasion/Indigenous/ATSIagreement.html

Terence Uren
Coordinator
Interim Namadgi Advisory Board

Impacts of cattle grazing on stream health

Cattle grazing impacts in relation to water resources have been poorly studied both within Australia and the world (Trimble 1995; Rinne 1998), whilst impacts associated with vegetation ecology and soil characteristics including porosity and stability have been well established (Costin et al 1960; Mwendera 1997; Evans 1998; Strand 1999). The grazing of cattle within the Australian Alps has been subject to scientific investigation from as early as the 1940’s through the work of Alec Costin, Dane Wimbush (NSW/VIC) and Massie Fawcett (VIC) focusing upon vegetation and soil impacts. Investigations into the effects of grazing upon water resources in the Alps, and indeed other landuses have to date not been undertaken outside resort areas (Cullen & Norris, 1989). With the development of the Australian Alps AUSRIVAS model in 2000, initial investigations into the effects of grazing upon water resources and other land uses within the Australian Alps National Parks has become possible (Davies & Norris, 2000).

Lisa Simpson, an honours student with the CRC for Freshwater Ecology, is currently undertaking research into the impacts of cattle grazing on streams with funding provided by the Australian Alps Liaison Committee. The study titled “Assessment of the Impacts of cattle grazing upon stream health: A case study of sub-alpine meadow streams”, aims to consider stream health within grazed and ungrazed sub-alpine streams focusing upon the use of the Alps AUSRIVAS model as well as geomorphic characteristics. Ungrazed streams within the Kosciuszko and Alpine National Park, have been selected for comparison to grazed lease areas of the Alpine National Park including the Bogong High Plains and Davies Plains areas. Use of the Alps AUSRIVAS model as well as channel characteristics are a key focus of the study to comparatively consider stream health in grazed, recently ungrazed and long-term ungrazed catchments. Analysis of results is currently underway, with results of the study expected in the new year.

References

Costin, A., B., Wimbush, D, Kerr, D., (1960). Studies in Catchment hydrology in the Australian Alps II: Surface runoff and soil loss: Technical Paper 14. Melbourne, Division of Plant Industry.

Cullen, R. Norris, R. (1989). Significance of lakes and rivers in the Australian mainland alps. The Significance of the Australian Alps. The Proceedings of the first Fenner Conference on the Environment, Canberra, CPN Publications Pty Ltd.

Evans, R. (1998). The erosional impacts of grazing animals. Progress in Physical Geography 22(2): 251-268
Fraser, I. C., T. (2000). Conservation or cultural heritage? Cattle grazing in the Victorian ANP. Ecological Economics 33: 63-75.

Mwendera, E. J., & Saleem, M (1997). Infiltration rates, surface runoff, and soil loss as influenced by grazing pressure in the Ethiopian highlands. Soil Use and Management 13: 29-35.

Rinne, J. N. (1988). Grazing Effects on Stream Habitat and Fishes: Research Design Considerations. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 8: 240-247.

Strand, M. M., R (1999). Impacts of Livestock grazing activities on stream insect communities and the Riverine Environment. American Entomologist 45(1): 13-30.

Trimble, S. W., & Mendel, A.C. (1995). The cow as a geomorphic agent- A critical review. Geomorphology 13: 233-253.
Wimbush, D. J. C., A.B. (1983). Trends in drainage characteristics in the sub-alpine zone at Kosciuszko. Proceedings of the Ecological Society Australia 12: 143-54.

Alps works program 2001/2002

The 2001/2002 cooperative works program for the Australian Alps national parks has been developed and approved by the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.

Natural Heritage Conservation

Project Title Brief Project Description Project Budget
Year of the Mountains conference Organise and present a conference to celebrate International Year of the mountains and to showcase the Alps. The conference will be developed with strategic partners including; Aust. ICOMOS, CRC for Sustainable Tourism and Australian Institute of Alpine Studies. $40,000 With further funding as appropriate in 2002/03
Alps Data Base Management Investigate the establishment of a central location to access, build on and maintain all research and data base information produced by the Alps program. $20,000
Media & Community Projects Officer Employ a part-time Media and Community Projects Officer to promote general community awareness programs, media liaison and undertake identified project work for IYM 2002. $24,000
A History of the evolution of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Alps Cooperative Management Program The Australian Alps MOU has been recognised internationally as best practice in the area of cooperative management. This project will document where, when and with whom the idea for cooperative management originated and discuss the evolution of the program. $4,000 (Funded over 2 years)
Project Title Brief Project Description Project Budget
Population Ecology of Feral Horses in the Australian Alps national parks 3 Year Phd Research Project by Michelle Walter University of Canberra 1999-2002 The project examines feral horse ecology in the Australian Alps. It will help provide a sound scientific basis for future management decisions. It aims to determine:

  • Distribution and abundance across the Alps;
  • The spatial and temporal use of alpine habitat;
  • Population dynamics & movement patterns and
  • Factors limiting population growth.
$18,200 (This is the third and final stage of funding)
Assessment of the impact of cattle grazing upon stream health in sub-alpine meadow streams Lisa Simpson Honors student CRC for freshwater Ecology Identify the impact of cattle grazing upon streams by comparison of streams within current grazed locations relative to ungrazed areas. Will consider stream health with respect to aquatic macroinvertebrates, as well as stream morphology using 3 grazing periods- current grazed, ungrazed 10-20 years and ungrazed 21-45 years. $5,000
Australian Alps Vegetation Fire response monitoring system review Review the existing fire response monitoring system developed by the Alps. Explore the possibility of refining the system to allow for greater and more consistent use. $5,000>

Recreation & Tourism Working Group

Project Title Brief Project Description Project Budget
Minimal Impact Code Project Complete the 00/01 Minimal Impact Codes project including evaluation by consultant, implementation of recommendations, community consultation, development of messages and production of materials (including brochures). $17,000
Australian Alps Walking Track Stakeholder Meeting Park agency representatives and stakeholders (user groups) meetings to discuss the management of the Australian Alps Walking Track. May include audit of existing infrastructure associated with track (signs, etc). $3,000

Community Awareness Working Group

Project Title Brief Project Description Project Budget
Alps Local Newspaper Insert Develop, in collaboration with rural press a newspaper insert with generic stories about the Alps, promoting International Year of the Mountains and Minimal Impact messages. $13,000
Australian Alps Website Development and Maintenance Maintenance, development and promotion of the Australian Alps website. The Benchmark Awareness Survey (1999) highlighted the Internet as a growing source for information. $5,000
Evaluation and revision of the Australian Alps Education Kit Evaluate and revise the existing Australian Alps Education Kit. Revision will be driven by evaluation in close consultation with schools and practitioners. $25,000
Community Service Announcements (CAS) for IYM 2002 Following on from the success of the 1999 CSA this project will revamp the current CSA from existing video footage. It will incorporate images and message to celebrate and promote IYM 2002 and the Alps Program. $8,000

Cultural Heritage Conservation

Project Title Brief Project Description Project Budget
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage: Liaison and Directions Study Engage a consultant to liaise with Aboriginal communities to seek direction on cultural heritage projects that they feel would best contribute to the protection and management of Aboriginal heritage values. The project will utilise existing protocols and networks within and outside agencies to engage as many Aboriginal communities as possible who have an association with the Alps. Additionally the consultant will be helping to facilitate an indigenous gathering in the mountains. $20,000 (Additional funding from the AHC may be available for this project)
Communicating Across Cultures Workshop Develop and deliver another “Cross Cultural Awareness” training session for Alps staff. To increase staff awareness and understanding of Aboriginal Australians and contemporary issues presented from an Aboriginal perspective. $7,500
Management and interpretation strategy for scientific sites Second a service staff member to develop a management and interpretation strategy for the significant scientific sites throughout the Alps. $19,452

For more details on a particular project contact the Program Coordinator:

Virginia Logan
Program Coordinator
Australian Alps national parks
Cooperative Management Program
Ph: (02) 6450 5635

Around the agencies: correspondents report

Victoria

An update from south of the border … Michelle Doherty, Ranger Bogong unit, Alpine National Park

Two new and exciting field guides have been developed for the Mt Buffalo area

Denise Allen, MLA for Benalla, will be launching the publications for Mount Buffalo National Park in October this year. The Mount Buffalo Plateau Vegetation Map and Guide, produced by the Field Naturalist Club with a grant from the Parks Victoria Volunteer Group Grants Scheme and Discovering Mount Buffalo, an 80 page colour booklet produced by the National Parks Association in association with Parks Victoria.

The organisers of the Kangaroo Hoppet ski race were thanking the snow gods after timely snow falls allowed this years race to go ahead. Staff from the Bogong Unit at Mt Beauty liaised with event organisers to set a 42km course within the Alpine National Park that sensitively reflected park values.

Awards all around to Parks Vic staff in the Alpine district

Congratulations to Peter Jacobs, Ranger in Charge Mount Buffalo National Park, he was the recipient of this years Parks Victoria Study Award and is currently on a four-week study trip of Canada and America. Peter has been an active member of the Recreation and Tourism working group and more recently managed the Recreation Planning Model development project for the Alps. Peter is focusing on visitor impact monitoring during his travels.

Congratulations also go to Darryl Burns from the Bogong Unit – Alpine National Park. In June this year he was the recipient of a combined Alpine Shire, Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce Tourism Award. This award recognises Darryl’s commitment and professionalism towards his management of the installation of an underground power cable from Mt Hotham to Mt Beauty, through the Alpine National Park.

New South Wales

The word from the Lyrebird … Stuart Cohen, NSW NPWS

Bhutan visit

A special relationship is slowly developing between Kosciuszko National Park and another similar conservation reserve in the small Himalayan country of Bhutan following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the NSW Government.

In September Bhutan’s Agriculture Minister, Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji made a brief visit to Kosciuszko National Park discuss management issues and future staff exchange programs. So far four park wardens from Bhutan have spent several weeks working in Kosciuszko National Park. Discussions are also underway for Kosciuszko National Park to become the sister park with Bhutan’s Jigme Dorji National Park.

Corroboree frogs on the edge

The Southern Corroboree Frog Recovery Team has made a decision to begin a captive breeding program in an eleventh hour bid to prevent the species from becoming extinct.

The population has suddenly dropped to an all-time low of maybe 500 adults spread across 80 separate sites within Kosciuszko National Park.

The plan is to breed them at Melbourne’s Amphibian Research Centre. The Recovery Team is now urgently seeking corporate sponsors to help fund what is expected to be an expensive project.

The new Regional Operations Coordinator for the NPWS South West Slops Region, Frazer Muir, is expected to start at the Tumut office shortly.

Frazer has almost 20 years experience in protected area manager and most recently has spent the past eight years as a district manager in Cairns working for the Queensland Parks and wildlife Service.

Greg Hayes has returned to the ranks of the NPWS taking on the position of Operations Coordinator for the Southern Directorate based in the Queanbeyan office. Greg’s had a varied career spending sometime with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service with a brief stint in 1995-96 in Tumut working for the NPWS as the acting District Manager. Most recently Greg worked for Environment Australia in the area managing the national reserve system program.

ACT

The Gang-Gang gossip … Anna Farnham, Senior Ranger, Western District

Review of Namadgi Plan of Management

It’s time to review the Namadgi National Park management plan, and to kick things off staff, got together at a planning day to review the past, ponder the present and look to the future. One of the challenges for the new plan will be to outline the parameters for the joint management of the Park. To facilitate this, an Interim Advisory Board has been established with representatives from Government and the local Aboriginal community. One of the first jobs of the Interim Board will be to consider an issues paper which will be circulated for community comments and will eventually provide an outline for the new plan of management.

The Boboyan Pines rehabilitation project continued with a winter burn of pine slash undertaken on the 21st of June. The burn was used as a full scale Incident Control training exercise for volunteer and Service personnel. Unfortunately, conditions were not ideal and the pine slash did not burn as well as was hoped. However the rehabilitation project was given a major boost recently with a large tree planting event on the 6/7th of October. Namadgi staff combined with Scouts Australia (ACT Branch) and Greenfleet to plant 50,000 trees and shrubs in the Pines area, as part of the Murray River Rescue program.

Changing faces in Environment ACT

Dr Maxine Cooper has recently been appointed as the Executive Director of Environment ACT and Conservator of Flora and Fauna. Maxine had a very hands-on start to her new role, helping volunteers plant trees as part of the Murray River Rescue project in Namadgi. Staff are looking forward to working with Maxine.

After 17 years with the ACT government, Graeme Todkill has taken up a position with the NSWNPWS. His knowledge and skills have been a tremendous asset to Namadgi. He will be fondly missed. His new position as Senior Field Supervisor for the Queanbeyan area will involve looking after areas that border Namadgi. So in the true spirit of the Alps Mou we’re looking forward to maintaining a close working relationship with him.

Margot Sharp has also taken up a new job, with Environment Australia. She is working in the “Bushcare” area of the Natural Heritage Trust. Margot has been the Senior Ranger at Namadgi for many years and more recently been involved with the Natural Heritage working group. We wish her all the best in her new position.

Finally congratulations to Geoff Young and Angie Jenkins, on the birth of their gorgeous daughter, Ruby May.

Commonwealth

What’s the buzz with … Paul Stevenson, Natural Heritage Trust

Natural Heritage Trust

In light of the changed funding arrangements for the Alps it is worthwhile considering other funding programs administered by Environment Australia.

The Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) is an initiative of the Australian Government providing $2.5 billion for nature conservation projects between 1997- 2001. The Trust is based on partnerships, bringing together the efforts of individuals, communities and governments. It has targeted environmental problems at their source, focusing on five key environmental themes – land, vegetation, rivers, coasts and marine, and biodiversity.

The extension of the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT2) is currently a significant policy and program development for Environment Australia. The Government will provide $1.24 billion for new measures over the four years commencing 2001-02. The two most important, the further extension of the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, account for $1.14 billion of the $1.24 billion.

The full potential of the NHT2 for the Australian Alps Program will be explored at the Annual Field Workshop in November 2001. Veronica Blazely will be providing a briefing for the Liaison Committee, Heads of Agencies and agency staff.

There have been no significant staff movements in the Commonwealth in recent months. However we hear it is becoming a tight squeeze in the John Gorton Building and that Cath Renwick our Alps Media and Community Project Officer may have to relocate to the Botanical Gardens. Stay tuned.

Crossing the Snowy Mountains on skis

2002 will mark the 75th anniversary of the first “Kiandra to Kosci” mountain crossing on skis. Graeme Handley provides us with a brief account of that first crossing and recalls the 1977 commemorative trip.

Skiing had its beginnings in Australia in the mid 1800’s when the Ski Club of Kiandra was established in the small mining town of Kiandra at the northern end of the area generally known as the Snowy Mountains. In the early 1920’s members of the Ski Club of Australia located at the southern end of the mountains began to speculate about what lay between these two centres of skiing in Australia, and after some exploratory trips in the mid ‘20’s planned to cross the mountains on skis in the winter of 1927.

On 28 July 1927 a party comprising Drs. Herbert Schlink, Eric Fisher, John Laidley and Mr. William Gordon from the Ski Club of Australia together with a representative of the Ski Club of Kiandra, Mr. William Hughes set out from Kiandra for the Hotel Kosciuszko. On the fist day they skied from Kiandra to Farm Ridge Hut via the Nine Mile Diggings and Boobee huts, a journey involving a waist deep crossing of the Happy Jacks River.

After topping up with supplies left there the previous summer, they set out the following morning for Jagungal Saddle, past the Bulls Peaks to the Tin Hut. Sensing that they were past the worst and in familiar territory, they discarded their sleeping bags and extra weight in the form of food etc at the Tin Hut and made a dash for Pounds Creek Hut.

However, they hadn’t counted on the weather and were enveloped in fog. Unable to see the major landmarks they were forced to feel their way to Consett Stephen Pass then into the Guthega River which would lead them to the Snowy River and the hut. One mistake and they were out for the night. Fortunately they got it right and found the Snowy River frozen over, thus avoiding another cold river crossing. With the aid of a stiff whisky, they made their way the last quarter mile to Pounds Creek Hut where they slept until 11 the next morning.

They found the last leg of the journey to the Hotel Kosciuszko a doddle and arrived back to the adulation of friends and hotel guests. Herbert Schlink’s chronicle of the journey can be found in the 1928 Australian Ski Yearbook and is reproduced in Klaus Hueneke’s book “Kiandra to Kosciuszko”.

In 1977 the Kosciuszko Huts Association celebrated the 50th anniversary of the crossing. The celebration took the form of the Kiandra to Kosciuszko Memorial Ski Tour in which experienced ski touring parties were encouraged to make a crossing during the winter of 1977 and to record the fact with comments in a special log book held at a lodge in Guthega. A sendoff ceremony was held at Kiandra on 30 July 1977 which was attended by the two then surviving members of the 1927 party. Tea and damper was served to participants and many appeared in period costume, skiing on early wooden skis similar to those which would have been used on the 1927 crossing.

More than 150 ski tourers completed the journey. 1977 was an exceptional snow year and the first party was able to complete a crossing on the June long weekend. Some even completed a crossing then made the return journey on skis. A special endorsed commemorative print and a ceramic medallion were presented to those who completed the crossing.

Moves are afoot to again celebrate the epic journey undertaken by those five skiers in 1927. Arrangements have yet to be completed, but details should be available shortly.

First Day – Kiandra to Farm Ridge Hut, approximately 25 miles, in 10 1/2 hours

Second Day – Farm Ridge Hut to Pounds’ Creek Hut, approximately 35 miles, in 12 1/2 hours

Third Day – Pounds’ Creek Hut to Hotel, approximately 15 miles

Alps profile… Dr Murray Evans

The AALC would like to welcome Dr Evans on board as a recent addition to the Natural Heritage Working Group.

I recently joined Environment ACT as a senior wildlife ecologist, having spent the last three years managing the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service’s Kangaroo Management Unit.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Natural Resources degree in 1986, completing my honours thesis on brushtail possums in the Tanami Desert with the assistance of the local aboriginal people. Returning from six months overseas trekking on a shoestring and desperately broke, I took a job as a computer programmer simulating river flows from a proposed dam on the Namoi River.

I then worked as a conservation officer with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service in Rockhampton studying the conservation requirements of endangered bridled nailtail wallabies. I was also fortunate to be able to work with the critically endangered hairy-nosed wombat (only about 60 left!).

In 1992 itchy feet lead me to Venezuela, South America as part of a joint CSIRO and Venezuela team to search for a biological control for cane toads. For the next 18 months I surveyed environmental conditions and biodiversity of aquatic life in rivers and lakes across Venezuela to gain an understanding of what limits cane toads in their natural habitat. Alas, no biological (viral) control was found, but I did encounter more interesting things such as anacondas, piranhas, electric eels, pink river dolphins and a lady I was to later marry.

I left the Orinocco and Amazon rivers to come home and begin a PhD on the energetics of wombats. Close to the end of the PhD (about the time my scholarship ran out) I joined the QPWS Kangaroo Management Program, based in Brisbane and Charleville. The controversial politics of kangaroo harvesting made this an interesting, if not challenging, position.

My passion for ecology and endangered species has led Carmen and myself to the cooler climes of the ACT (we’re still recovering from the shock of arriving in winter). As a newcomer to the region, I am looking forward to being involved in the Alps program, meeting AALC members and getting to know the Alps environment.

Murray is based at the Environment ACT Wildlife Research and Monitoring Unit, Canberra. Phone (02) 6207 2118

Science in high places … Trish Macdonald & Joss Haiblen

Explorers, Mountain Cattlemen, Brumby Runners, Gold Seekers, Dam Builders are all part of the heroic and exciting history of the Australian Alps! But, how many of us think of the scientists of the past and their impacts on the Alps as we know them today?

Many of the cultural and natural values society holds for the Alps today are informed by the results of scientific research in these mountains. This science is of “outstanding national scientific significance” and has a “largely unacknowledged cultural significance…. and a romance and heroism of its own”. (Griffiths and Robin, 1994)

Building on the work done by Griffiths and Robin in “Science in High Places – The Cultural Significance of Scientific Sites in the Australian Alps” and by Jo Clarke in “Science in High Places – Research and Monitoring in the Australian Alps” (1998) the Cultural Heritage Working Group is looking to develop a “Thematic Interpretation Strategy for Scientific Sites of Cultural Significance in the Australian Alps” – that is; find a way to bring this exciting story of the scientists in the Alps to Alps visitors and all those who have an interest in the Alps.

Joss Haiblen and myself (Trish Macdonald) have been seconded to this project from the ACT Parks and Conservation Service. In reviewing the sciences with a focus on the Alps we have found that “the more you look the more you find” and of necessity have restricted ourselves to the natural sciences.

Various “themes” have naturally fallen out of the collective sciences, and these will seem logical (hopefully) to land managers. Some of these are:

  • Geomorphology – eg science that debated the extent of glaciation in the Alps,
  • Paleo-ecology – sciences looking at past climates and ecology of the Alps,
  • Fire ecology studies,
  • Grazing impact studies,
  • Rehabilitation research, and
  • Research on native and exotic species.

Each of these themes will be considered separately, and for each theme a few key sites will be selected for potential on site interpretation. All sites will have conservation measures assessed for them.

We are currently in the process of looking at the vast field of research in natural sciences, determining which studies are culturally significant, and liaising with the relevant scientists and the field managers where the sites are. In November we will be “out in the field” (escaping the office?!!) to visit sites and talk with the field managers about the suitability of sites for interpretation.

If you have an interest in this topic, know of scientific sites that may be culturally significant in your area, or just want to ask us some questions, please feel free to contact us on (02) 6207 2520.

Trish Macdonald

Dates for your diary

8 October – 30 November 2001
Call for Projects 2002 – 2003 Cooperative Works Program

14 – 16 November 2001
Annual workshop – ‘Program Development’, Walwa, Victoria

6 – 12 January 2002
Alpine ecology course, Bogong High Plains
Dinner Plain, Victoria.

April 2002
Cross cultural awareness course, Yarrangobilly, Kosciuszko National park

14 – 24 November 2002
IYM Conference 2002, Jindabyne

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 humourous stories about your work in the Australian Alps. A prize will be awarded for the most interesting article!

Send your article or short story to the Program Coordinator ASAP.

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