Mr. Brendan Smyth, MLA
Minister for Urban Services (ACT)
The Hon. Bob Debus
Minister for the Environment (New South Wales)
The Hon. Marie Tehan
Minister for Conservation & Land Management (Victoria)
Senator the Hon. Robert Hill
Minister for the Environment (Commonwealth)
We have pleasure in presenting the report of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee for the period 1st July 1998 to 30th June 1999 in accordance with the requirements of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Cooperative Management of the Australian Alps national parks.
|Dr Colin Adrian
Parks & Conservation Service
NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
Director of National Parks & Wildlife
The year 1998/99 was one of further achievement for the Australian Alps Liaison Committee in attaining excellence in protected area management. This was achieved through a continuing strong program of cross-border liaison and staff cooperation at all levels.
As in previous years, agencies and staff involved in the cooperative management program can be justifiably proud of the projects that have been conducted to enhance consistency in the management of the unique alpine and sub-alpine environments of mainland Australia.
A major achievement was the addition of Mount Buffalo National Park (Vic) to the schedule of parks and reserves covered by the Memorandum of Understanding for the management of the Australian Alps national parks.
The inclusion of alpine, subalpine and mountain reserves not adjoining the existing Australian Alps parks had been a discussion point with the Australian Alps Liaison Committee for sometime. In keeping with international best practise, amending the Memorandum of Understanding to allow for the inclusion of parks and reserves on the biogeographical basis was proposed to Ministers and endorsed. This amendment of the MOU and subsequent addition of Mt Buffalo represents a significant development in terms of the cooperative management of the Australian Alps national parks on a regional basis.
During the year a number of major reports and investigations were completed which provide guidance for agencies in their management of the Australian Alps environment and its sustainable use. Education, staff training, natural and cultural resources have all been targeted in the past year and valuable outcomes achieved.
Jane Lennon and Associates prepared an assessment of the cultural heritage values of the Australian Alps national parks against international criteria. The report identified that the Australian Alps national parks are of great importance in illustrating Aboriginal adaptation to climate change in the late Pleistocene era compared to more recent occupancy of the European Alps.
As part of the Centenary Dedication Day activities at Mount Buffalo National Park, Mr Brendan Smyth, Minister for the Environment (ACT), and the Hon. Marie Tehan, Minister for Conservation and Land Management (Vic), officially launched the Australian Alps Liaison Committee’s latest publication Explore the Australian Alps – the official touring guide to the Australian Alps national parks.
Explore has proven to be an essential reference for anyone wanting to visit one of Australia’s most beautiful and fascinating regions. With over 150 full colour photographs, Explore has been widely acclaimed as an invaluable touring guide and a lasting memento of journeys through the Australian Alps national parks.
The cooperative management strategies and implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding have been recognised internationally as world’s best practice in cross-border management of protected areas. It is noted that during the year a similar memorandum of understanding has been established for the cooperative management of the mallee and dry land areas of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
The role and activities of the AALC in introducing innovation, providing a forum for staff networking and coordination continues to be highly valued by staff managing the Australian Alps national parks. The Committee’s works program provides an opportunity for the professional development of staff that may not be otherwise available. The response of staff has been to give their time in addition to their normal duties and become involved with the Australian Alps program.
I would like to record my sincere thanks to the members of the various working groups and to the Australian Alps Liaison Committee for their collective efforts which have ensured the ongoing success and relevance of the Australian Alps national parks cooperative management program.
Environment Australia, Convenor, Australian Alps Liaison Committee
The Australian Alps stretch from Canberra through the Brindabella Range in the ACT, the Snowy Mountains of NSW and along the Great Dividing Range through Victoria. This alpine and subalpine environment is a unique part of Australia, a mountainous biogeographical region in a predominantly dry and flat continent.
The national parks and reserves in the Australian Alps cross State and Territory borders and comprise over 1.6 million hectares of protected areas across Australia. Nine conservation reserves are collectively referred to as the Australian Alps national parks. The reserves are managed as part of the Alps program and include, Kosciuszko, Namadgi, Alpine, Mount Buffalo, Snowy River and Brindabella National Parks, Bimberi Nature Reserve, Scabby Range Nature Reserve and the Avon Wilderness. Through cooperation and joint management the national parks and reserves in the Australian Alps are managed as one biogeographical entity.
Other conservation areas and resorts with alpine and subalpine environments on the mainland and in Tasmania also benefit from regular contact and information developed through the cooperative management approach to the Australian Alps national parks. The Australian Alps Liaison Committee is keen to foster and enhance this relationship with relevant land management agencies.
As well as containing Australia’s highest peaks, the majority of its mainland hydro-electricity generating resources, and primary water supplies for Canberra and mountain towns, the Australian Alps national parks also protect Australia’s unique alpine flora and fauna and significant examples of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage sites and highly valued recreation resource for many Australians.
To assist conservation agencies to manage these valuable resources in a consistent and compatible manner, the Ministers responsible for the management of these protected areas signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in relation to the cooperative management of the Australian Alps in July 1986.
The MOU was revised and re-signed firstly with self-government in the ACT and the addition of the Alpine National Park in Victoria. It has been further amended and resigned with the addition of Mount Buffalo National Park to the Australian Alps cooperative management program in 1998.
Responsibility for day to day management of the Australian Alps national parks remains vested with each agency party to the MOU. The majority of works undertaken within the Australian Alps national parks are undertaken by the managing agencies in line with agreed strategies and statutory management plans.
The vision for the Australian Alps cooperative management program is one of participating agencies working in partnership to achieve excellence in conservation management and sustainable use through a strong program of cross-border cooperation.
Through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) participating agencies cooperate in the management of the Australian Alps national parks:
- to promote the growth and enhancement of inter-governmental cooperative management to protect the nationally important values of the Australian Alps national parks, and
- to cooperate in the management of the Australian Alps national parks for the:
- protection of the unique mountain landscape;
- protection of the natural and cultural values specific to the Australian Alps;
- provision of outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities to encourage the enjoyment and
- understanding of the alpine environment;
- protection of mountain catchments.
To achieve this mission, the agencies which are party to the MOU will continue to strive for excellence in their own corporate missions. Agencies will cooperate in establishing best practice management to protect the scenery, water catchments, and natural and cultural heritage of the Australian Alps, while providing the opportunities for the public appreciation and sustainable use enjoyment of our parks.
The working arrangements agreed to under the MOU require agencies to:
- consult in the preparation and amendment of management plans to ensure complementary policies and management practices throughout the Australian Alps national parks.
- consult on resource data collection and, where possible, cooperate in joint actions and other operations relevant to the coordinated protection of the values of the Australian Alps national parks.
- exchange information, ideas and expertise relevant to the protection of the nationally important values of the Australian Alps national parks, and cooperate in the training of staff to manage the Australian Alps national parks.
- cooperate in the enhancement and monitoring of public awareness programs about the Australian Alps national parks.
- cooperate to provide opportunities for public participation in the management of the Australian Alps national parks.
- strive to adopt complementary recreation management policies and, where appropriate, provide recreation facilities and services to enable visitors to effectively use adjacent areas.
Areas covered by the MOU include:
|Alpine National Park||647 700|
|Snowy River National Park||98 100|
|Avon Wilderness Park||39 650|
|Mount Buffalo National Park||31 000|
|New South Wales||Size (ha)|
|Kosciuszko National Park||690 000|
|Brindabella National Park||12 000|
|Scabby Range Nature Reserve||3 449|
|Bimberi Nature Reserve||7 100|
|Australian Capital Territory||Size (ha)|
|Namadgi National Park||105 900|
Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC) is established with a senior manager from each of the signatory land management agencies and the Commonwealth Government. The function of the AALC is to coordinate the development and implementation of a cooperative works program and to implement the MOU within the context of each agency’s own policies.
A number of working groups are established to advise the AALC on specific matters, and to assist with the implementation of the cooperative management program. Under the AALC guidelines, working groups may be disbanded once their objectives have been achieved.
To assist in achieving the objectives of the MOU, a financial contribution is made by each of the participating agencies. The responsibility for financial management is vested with the agency providing the Program Coordinator position. During the reporting period, the ACT Parks & Conservation Service (Environment ACT) provided the necessary financial management support for the program.
A total annual budget of $400,000 is provided from the agencies with Victoria, New South Wales and the Commonwealth governments contributing $120,000 each and the Australian Capital Territory $40,000.
Allocation of funds is made by the AALC and approved through each of the agencies. Project proposals are sought from agency staff and must be within the goals of the strategic plan. Working groups consider the projects submitted and make recommendations to the Liaison Committee. Individual officers who represent their agency on the various working groups or identified project officers, oversee and manage the projects. Allocation of funds is made by the AALC and approved through each of the agencies. Project proposals are sought from agency staff and must be within the goals of the strategic plan. Working groups consider the projects submitted and make recommendations to the Liaison Committee. Individual officers who represent their agency on the various working groups or identified project officers, oversee and manage the projects.
The 1998 / 1999 annual works program is presented in Attachment 2.
The Memorandum of Understanding makes provision for the Australian Alps Liaison Committee to be established to coordinate cooperation between agencies involved in the management of the Australian Alps national parks.
Membership of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC) is defined in the MOU to be a senior officer of each of the relevant land management agencies in ACT, NSW and Victoria together with a senior officer from the relevant Commonwealth Government Department dealing with conservation reserves.
The AALC members are generally managers with direct responsibility for implementing the projects and outcomes of the cooperative management program within the Australian Alps national parks. These senior officers are able to ensure the involvement of field staff in the various programs, training and projects that make up the Australian Alps cooperative management program.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the Australian Alps Liaison Committee will ensure:
- That a three-year Strategic Plan is submitted to the Ministers through Heads of Agencies for approval, and will be accompanied by a review of the implementation of the previous Strategic Plan;
- That a cooperative work program is developed consistent with the Strategic Plan for each financial year;
- That a regular review of progress towards implementing the program is undertaken during the financial year to which it relates;
- That an annual report is submitted to the Ministers, through Heads of Agencies at the end of each financial year;
- Within the capacity of individual Agency budgets, Agencies will contribute funds to be managed by the Liaison Committee for the approved works program under the Memorandum of Understanding. The Liaison Committee may enter into cost-sharing arrangements with one or more State/Territory for projects within the works program; and
- In managing projects under the approved works program, parties agree that a nominated Agency may oversee the implementation of a particular project and act on behalf of other Agencies in the execution of legal contracts and similar arrangements.
The Liaison Committee may invite managers of other alpine and sub-alpine parks, conservation reserves or relevant bodies to participate in specific cooperative programs where benefits from consistent management of alpine and sub-alpine environments are expected.
Working Groups are established to guide and direct the implementation of the Australian Alps annual works program in conjunction with the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.
Working Group members operate as a team with staff from other land management agencies involved in managing the Australian Alps national parks. Working Group tasks include developing new projects in the key result areas as outlined in the Strategic Plan, recommending priority projects for AALC funding, and managing projects through outsourcing or in house means on time and within budgets.
The criteria for membership of a working group is based on the technical skills and expertise that an individual officer can bring to achieving the objectives of the working group under the Australian Alps Strategic Plan.
The Australian Alps Liaison Committee seeks to achieve a balance in terms of practical field experience and specialist advice within the membership of the working groups. Working groups benefit from having more than one agency representative, allowing the workload and demands placed on the group to be evenly distributed amongst the membership. Membership of the working groups also encourages professional development and fosters a holistic approach to viewing and managing the Australian Alps national parks.
During the reporting period, four working groups operated under the Australian Alps cooperative management program. The terms of reference for each Working Group are set out under the Strategic Plan for the Cooperative Management of the Australian Alps. Working Groups are closely aligned to specific Key Result Areas of park management.
Refer to program structure, Attachment 1
Community Education Officer
Increased public awareness of the important values of the Australian Alps national parks is a major goal of the cooperative management arrangement. Awareness is achieved through publicity, particularly in regional media, of the programs and projects that enhance the management of the Australian Alps through a strong program of cross border cooperation.
A part-time Community Education Officer Ms Cath Renwick, was appointed to increase the community awareness and appreciation of the values of the Australian Alps, and of the tangible benefits of the cooperative management program. The Community Education Officer supported the Community Relations and Recreation & Tourism Working Groups on a range of projects. These projects included project management of the World Wide Web page, the development of a curriculum based tour operator training module, as well as facilitating the staging of a best practise workshop on visitor monitoring. In addition, the Community Education Officer provided over 320 responses to questions received about the Australian Alps program from a number of sources, including student-based projects from the World Wide Web.
Regional media is one of the most effective modes for informing neighbours, local government and interested individuals of the progress of projects and cooperation in managing the Australian Alps. A number of media releases and feature articles were supplied to regional media outlets with a significant proportion carried by broadcast and print media organisations.
Wild Guide to the Australian Alps
Barbara Cameron-Smith from Cameo Interpretative Projects was commissioned during the year to develop and produce a user friendly field guide to the plants, animals and habitats of the Australian Alps national parks. The book, Wild Guide to the Australian Alps will introduce the reader to commonly seen or heard plants and animals in the Australian Alps. It includes a number of threatened species as well as feral plants and animals that have an impact on native species.
Due for completion in October 1999, Wild Guide to the Australian Alps will help increase community understanding and appreciation for the unique natural heritage values of the alpine and sub-alpine environments and the importance of conserving the Australian Alps national parks.
The target audience for Wild Guide of the Australian Alps is the general visiting public who may not have training or experience in the scientific or taxonomic identification of alpine and subalpine species.
Reporting on the activities and successes of the cooperative management program is an essential task of the Liaison Committee to raise awareness and to communicate the benefits of the Memorandum of Understanding.
The 1997/98 annual report provides a review of the Australian Alps cooperative management program for that year, the organisational make-up of the Liaison Committee and the various Working Groups. The annual report contains the cooperative management works program for that year and reports on projects undertaken. The report continues to serve as an important information source on the structure and basis of the Australian Alps cooperative management program for government agencies, members of the public, tertiary institutions and libraries. Over 600 copies were distributed nationally and internationally.
Internet Web Site
The Australian Alps national parks web site was further developed and expanded to include copies of the Australian Alps newsletter, abstracts from recent publications and a full copy of the Annual Report.
The Web site is supported by Environment Australia, and information at the site covers the parks that make up the Australian Alps, key issues and values of the Australian Alps from nature and water conservation to seasonal grazing, recreation opportunities, resources for further study and a questions and answers section. One of the key elements of the page is the ease by which information can be accessed. The website continues to be popular with students and visitors alike and is linked to all the Australian Alps agency sites as well as the Australian Institute for Alpine Studies.
The Australian Institute of Alpine Studies (AIAS) is an umbrella organisation for alpine researchers of all disciplines. The Institute has no permanent geographic location other than a web site address in cyberspace. The aims of the AIAS are to promote research in the alpine and sub-alpine areas of Australia, and to share information on current alpine research in Australia and overseas. A further objective of the web page is to facilitate closer liaison with international mountain research organisations and to convene a biennial seminar session on alpine research.
The Australian Alps site can be found at : www.australianalps.environment.gov.au
Community Benchmark Awareness Survey
During the reporting period, the Community Relations Working Group 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 has provided useful data and information on the general awareness levels and satisfaction with the Australian Alps national parks.
Encouragingly, 67% of rural residents and 61% of Park Visitors surveyed were aware that their nearest national park or park recently visited, was part of the Australian Alps national parks cooperative management program. Overall, both groups were generally satisfied with the level of visitor facilities and amenities on offer within the Australian Alps national parks.
Australian Alps Video and Tourist Map
A Canberra based consortium of Fine Films and Images on Line were appointed to capture the essence and unique spirit of the Australian Alps national parks on video.
The aim of the video is to take the viewer on a journey of discovery through the Australian Alps national parks, a unique landscape in a dry flat continent. The Community Relations Working Group in consultation with relevant stakeholders, developed a story line based on the concept of ‘pathways of discovery’. The journey begins in the footsteps of Aboriginal occupation and leads into the diverse cultural and natural elements of the Australian Alps. The video will be visually stunning, and its primary focus will be to encourage a greater understanding and appreciation for the Australian Alps as one biogeographical region.
The project is well advanced, with the development, production and distribution of this 15-minute video due for release in October 1999. The video is designed for tourist information centres, coach groups and the general public.
The second stage of the project involves the production of a tourist map to compliment the video. Charles Walsh Nature Tourism Services, has been appointed to produce a full colour detailed map of the Australian Alps that will provide accurate information on recreational opportunities across the region. The map and video, along with the vehicle touring guide ‘Explore’ will provide a package of information designed to be entertaining and informative, while at the same time encouraging the audience to gain an in-depth appreciation for the significance of the Australian Alps national parks.
The entire project has been designed to develop and enhance stakeholder interest and form tangible partnership arrangements with councils, tourism organisations and others so as to provide a sense of ownership and ensure effective marketing and distribution of the products.
Community Service Announcements
Several 30 and 60 seconds Community Service Announcements received extensive “air time” during the reporting period. Regional and national television stations provided the opportunity to run the community service announcements free of charge during normal programming. The community service announcements have been designed to inform the public about the unique aspects of the Australian Alps as a single biogeographical region which crosses State and Territory borders and the role played by the Australian Alps national parks agencies in working together to manage and protect this region.
A working draft of the Rehabilitation Manual was released during the year to assist field staff and others in the rehabilitation of disturbed land in the Australian Alps national parks. In particular the manual addresses disturbances caused by civil engineering and road construction works.
The manual is written to assist project managers, design professionals, works supervisors and work crew staff to understand the broad principles and refined techniques of alpine area environmental management and land rehabilitation. Although the details of managing disturbance in alpine environments and the associated discipline of alpine ecology can at times seem complex and daunting, they are simple common sense operating principles. These principles are highlighted within the manual and reflect the difficulties of working in the alpine environment.
The current draft version of the manual was distributed to encourage comment and feedback from relevant and interested stakeholders.
The final manual will provide a basis for an accredited training certificate for field staff and contractors operating on rehabilitation projects in the Australian Alps national parks.
Biodiversity Strategic Priority Framework
The development of a strategic priority framework for native flora and fauna and for priority pest species represents a consolidation of projects designed to provide a strategic overview to guide protected area management practices across the Australian Alps national parks.
During the reporting period the project was extensively reviewed. The refined project will investigate the current knowledge and develop a criteria by which priority ranking’s can be established for species and communities occurring in the Australian Alps. As a result, the project aims to clearly identify those species or communities for which there is a priority need for further research, investigation or management coordination.
A key to the success of this project are a number of planned workshops to be held to discuss the issues and identify which species and communities are seen as being priority. The involvement and consultation with both technical and ‘on ground’ land managers is crucial to the overall success of this project in terms of assigning priority status to biodiversity features for future research within the Australian Alps national parks.
Stream Health Monitoring
During the reporting period a review into previous water quality studies on alpine streams and the development of a system for assessing alpine stream health based on aquatic macro-invertebrate assemblages was completed.
The use of biological rather than chemical methods for assessing water quality has increased in the last decade, with the National River Health Program facilitating the investigation or development of a number of taxonomic groups as potential bio-indicators. The Australian River Assessment Scheme (AUSRIVAS) was 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 macro-invertebrate assemblages to detect the ecological status of streams. The application of the AUSRIVAS approach and the development of an Australian Alps model will introduce river health as a focus for catchment management initiatives in the Australian Alps National Parks. The development of an Australian Alps model would greatly enhance the effectiveness of future river condition assessment and reduce costs of such assessments.
The project was carried out by the Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, based at the University of Canberra.
Feral Horse Monitoring Project
During the reporting period a monitoring project was commenced in the Cobberas area of the Alpine National Park (Vic) to assess the environmental impact of feral horses on subalpine wetland and bog communities.
The primary focus of the project was to develop a long-term vegetation monitoring program which will enable measurement and assessment of the level of impact feral horses have on the vegetation condition of the Alpine National Park in the Cobberas area. The study area incorporates alpine wet heath-land and snow-gum grassy woodland broad vegetation communities.
The project specifically involves the design and construction of a replicated exclosure experiment to assess effects of grazing on floristic composition of intensively grazed sites. The project will also assess the impacts on stream bank and bed condition, and will establish a set of photo-point monitoring sites to qualitatively record vegetation recovery from horse wallows and track-ways.
The design of this project is seen as a pilot, 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 will in the long-term, deliver comprehensive findings about specific impacts of horses on these alpine vegetation communities. As a result of the data obtained and design principles of the project, land management agencies will be in a position to develop an overall strategy for the monitoring of feral horses in the Australian Alps national parks.
English Broom (Cytisus scoparius) Management Strategy
The Australian Alps Liaison Committee commissioned a review of the occurrence of broom within the Australian Alps and the development of an integrated broom management strategy for use by field staff. The Broom Management Strategy for the Australian Alps national parks has been prepared by researchers from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in collaboration with Rangers and Park planners.
The Broom Management Strategy for the Australian Alps national parks meets the goals of the National Weeds Strategy and the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia’s Biological Diversity. The strategy seeks to minimise the impact of introduced plants such as broom on the environmental values and biodiversity of the alpine region. Invasion by environmental weeds such as English Broom poses a present and potential threat to vegetation communities across the Australian Alps national parks.
During the year colonies of the Broom Twig-Mining Moth, Broom Psyllid, and the Broom Seed-Feeding Beetle, were imported from New Zealand into the quarantine facilities at Keith Turnbull Research Institute (KTRI). These biological control agents are currently being reared through a mandatory one-generation gene cycle in quarantine to ensure they are free of parasites or disease.
These agents will be available for release throughout the Australian Alps national parks at appropriate broom infestations in Spring 1999. Research staff from KTRI will conduct training sessions for Australian Alps national parks staff in the release of the agents and subsequent monitoring and management of biocontrol sites.
Scientific Sites Database
A previous Australian Alps Liaison Committee project Science in High Places examined the cultural significance of scientific sites occurring within the Australian Alps national parks.
Following on from this initial examination, during the reporting period a project was completed which has documented and established a database of all known scientific sites established throughout the Australian Alps national parks. The project has also identified sites, which may be re-established for assessment and for further monitoring.
The project involved the production of a database, which addresses scientific site details, references and relevant contacts relating to long term monitoring and other significant research. The database also contains an instructional manual.
The Scientific Sites database will greatly assist researchers in ascertaining what methods were used in a particular field of study, the location of relevant data and the period of time in which the study occurred. The database currently holds information on 227 known scientific sites with details relating to publications relevant to research sites listed and contact details of existing and previous researchers.
The complete database is held by each Agency at a central location with information updated annually. The Australian Alps Liaison Committee has committed resources to ensure wide application 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.
Fire and Fauna Database
A recently completed database has greatly improved the information available on the effects of fire on fauna occurring within the Australian Alps national parks. The project was undertaken by the Johnstone Centre from Charles Stuart University.
The database was built upon a concept developed by NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service in 1995, focusing on the relationship between fauna and habitat in the Snowy Mountains. This approach was derived from a need to improve the fauna component of environmental assessment and to complement wildlife atlas records. Staff could then identify the broad habitat type in the field, and using a matrix of species and habitat, filter all those species that were associated within that particular habitat.
Work by the Johnstone Centre has improved the database by focusing upon the effects of fire for each vertebrate species identified within the Australian Alps national parks. The current project collates all available reference material on the specific habitat of alpine fauna into a database for use by fire planning and incident management staff across the agencies. The database has been constructed in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for simplicity.
Video surveillance cameras were established at quoll latrine sites to provide information and population data to help protect this potentially threatened species. The monitoring of latrine sites will provide land managers with a better understanding of the behavioural interactions of quolls along with foxes and dogs.
Similarly, the role that latrine sites play in the breeding ecology of Spot-tailed Quolls will be better understood through video-footage of use of these sites.
Developed by Faunatech, the infra-red sensitive camera will provide high-resolution pictures both at night and during the day. By filming the animals in action at these sites, land managers will gain a detailed appreciation about how dogs and foxes approach, investigate and dig up buried poison baits. This information is expected to lead to improvements in the way in which bait stations are created and managed.
Cross Culture Awareness
The Australian Alps Liaison Committee has identified a need to improve awareness of cross-cultural indigenous issues amongst field managers working within the Australian Alps national parks.
A cross-cultural awareness workshop has been developed and tailored to meet the specific needs of park managers within the Australian Alps national parks. The workshop planned for November 1999 will make a significant contribution to improved cross-border management of indigenous heritage. It will also raise awareness of the fact that traditional cultural boundaries are blind to State and Territory borders.
The aim of the workshop is to improve understanding of contemporary indigenous cultural issues amongst land managers working within the Australian Alps national parks. It will provide an insight into the culture, responsibilities and aspirations of traditional Aboriginal owners in relation to land now encompassed by the Australian Alps national parks.
The workshop has been designed to provide opportunities for participants to learn about Aboriginal perspective’s through practical experiences and on ground examples and challenge participants to consider their own views and values in relation to traditional Aboriginal owners and the management of protected areas.
Heritage Building Training Workshop
A four-day residential course aimed at introducing field staff to the key principles, skills and techniques required in conserving heritage buildings in the Australian Alps national parks was held during the year.
The course introduced and demonstrated an array of practical techniques that can be employed by participants in managing heritage buildings. The course identified the major aspects of conserving a range of vernacular buildings typical of those found throughout the Australian Alps national parks. The focus was primarily to understand the common problems, which occur in such buildings, and to demonstrate appropriate conservation solutions. Such solutions were based on practical construction and repair methods, which would be appropriate to maintain the cultural integrity and significance of these buildings.
The course provided a forum for land management agencies and volunteer groups to share their knowledge and experience on the restoration and maintenance of heritage buildings.
Strategic Planning Workshop
A Cultural Heritage Strategic Planning workshop was convened during the year to ensure the opportunity for new directions and emphases in cross-border management, while maintaining continuity of primary directions and programs.
The two-day residential workshop provided the opportunity for those working in the field of cultural heritage conservation to come together and share information. The outcome of the workshop has been to provide a strategic framework and direction for cultural heritage conservation in the Australian Alps national parks. As a result of reviewing the strategic direction, a number of potential projects have been identified which the Australian Alps Liaison Committee will be targeting as part of the annual cooperative works program.
The workshop reviewed the work done since the Cultural Heritage Symposium at Jindabyne in 1991 and made a number of recommendations on cultural heritage management which will be incorporated into the Australian Alps national parks Strategic Management Plan.
Cultural Significance of the Australian Alps
A major report to examine the cultural values of the Australian Alps national parks against international criteria was completed during the year. The examination extends the earlier Australian Alps Liaison Committee work in convening a symposium (1991) that identified the range of cultural values in the Australian Alps.
The cultural values ranged from Aboriginal heritage through various phases of occupation and use such as exploration, grazing and mining to more recent land uses of tourism and hydro-electricity generation. The assessment against international criteria has documented the significance of the cultural values in international terms and provides a greater understanding of the need to protect the cultural values of the Australian Alps national parks.
The Lennon report, prepared by Jane Lennon and Associates, identified relevant international themes of human occupancy in alpine, subalpine and mountain environments and then compares the Australian evidence within the wider international context.
The Lennon report identified that the Australian Alps national parks are of great importance in illustrating Aboriginal adaptation to climate change in the late Pleistocene era, compared to more recent occupancy of the European Alps. With occupation dates from Birrigai at 21000 BP in a cold cycle and the Holocene warm period from 8500 to 6500 BP, Lennon has concluded that climate change may offer a link between natural and cultural values, and therefore can be expressed as a possible ‘outstanding universal value’ in the Australian Alps.
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.
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.
Australian Alps Walking Track
The Australian Alps Walking Track, opened in 1995, provides an identified route through the Australian Alps between Walhalla in Victoria and Tharwa on the outskirts of Canberra. In 1998, the Australian Alps Liaison Committee allocated funding for the development of a management strategy to ensure the continuing and consistent management of the track by all three State agencies.
The Australian Alps Walking Track and its accompanying Map Guide have been one of the most popular publications of the Australian Alps. The management strategy team that was established continued its valuable work of identifying particular sections of the 650 kilometre track that are in need of attention.
The involvement of key walking groups including the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs and the Canberra Bushwalking Club is vital to ensure user group input into the long-term management of this important track.
In addition, work was completed to install information displays at each end of the 650 kilometre Australian Alps Walking Track along with the installation of interpretive signs at strategic locations along the track. The trailhead displays at Walhalla in Victoria and the Namadgi Visitors’ Centre in the ACT provide visitors to these locations with an overview of the track and encourages people to experience at least a small section of the track.
Visitor Monitoring Workshop
The first in a series of best practice workshops, developed by the Recreation and Tourism Working Group, was designed to help field staff, protected area and visitor services managers, planners and tour operators understand the value of visitor monitoring.
Invited speakers included representatives from industry who displayed and explained the technologies used in visitor monitoring. Presentations from professional tourism and recreation planners, experts in the field of data collection and analysis, demystified some of the processes and strategies. Key staff from national parks agencies in 6 states (Victoria; NSW; ACT; Queensland; Tasmania and South Australia) presented valuable case studies. The workshop provided a forum for discussion and networking amongst the wide range of participants, including representatives from non-government agencies such as alpine resorts and research bodies.
Held at the Conference and Convention Centre at the La Trobe University Campus in Beechworth, Victoria, the workshop provided an excellent opportunity for professional career development for Australian Alps agency staff and many others. The workshop also promoted increased cooperation between Australian Alps Liaison Committee, other parks agencies and the tourism and research industries.
Explore the Australian Alps Touring Guide
As part of the Centenary Dedication Day activities at Mount Buffalo National Park, Mr Brendan Smyth, Minister for the Environment (ACT), and the Hon. Marie Tehan, Minister for Conservation and Land Management (Vic) officially launched the Australian Alps Liaison Committee’s latest publication Explore the Australian Alps – the official touring guide to the Australian Alps national parks.
Explore is a valuable reference for anyone wanting to visit one of Australia’s most beautiful and fascinating regions. Explore the Australian Alps is divided into six separate touring sections that together form the grand tour of the Alps. A comprehensive map, detailed tour information for two and four-wheel drive vehicles, interesting anecdotes, and insights into native flora and fauna, accompanies each section.
With over 150 stunning full colour photographs, Explore the Australian Alps is an invaluable touring guide and a lasting memento of journeys through the Australian Alps national parks.
The joint publication with Beaten Track Press and New Holland Publishers, is the first partnership arrangement between the Australian Alps Liaison Committee and a commercial publisher to market the values and recreation opportunities of the Australian Alps national parks.
Indications are that the touring guide has been very successful in the market place and may well provide a model for further publications of this type.
Cross Border Law Enforcement
During the reporting period staff from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and the New South Wales and Australian Federal Police Service held a workshop at the Namadgi National Park (ACT) Visitors Information Centre.
The purpose was to discuss a number of law enforcement issues confronting staff from across the agencies. The topics were closely related to a number of compliance activities within the northern portion of the Australian Alps national parks. These included matters ranging from illegal pig hunting, to establishing processes to allow the exchange of information and authorisation of staff under relevant legislation.
As a result of the workshop a formal process to improve intelligence sharing opportunities and information between the various agencies was established. Protocols are also being investigated that will allow agency staff to be authorised ‘across the border’. Such an arrangement has been previously facilitated through the Australian Alps program for New South Wales and Victoria.
With the sharing of intelligence resources and information between agencies, it is anticipated that a clearer understanding of cross border compliance issues within the Australian Alps National Parks will be gained.
Tangible results were gained with an ACT resident, previously spoken to in relation to pig hunting activities in Namadgi National Park (ACT), being apprehended and charged for similar activities in New South Wales by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Police.
Alpine Ecology Workshop
The Australian Alps Liaison Committee sponsored three field staff to attend the 1999 Alpine Ecology Workshop held at Bogong High Plains (Victoria). The four-day intensive residential course provided an ideal opportunity for field staff to refresh their knowledge about the complex ecological balance of alpine environments, learn new information from highly qualified instructors and to review management practices.
Australian Alps Newsletter
Regular communication with staff throughout the Australian Alps national parks and with others interested in the management of the Australian Alps is seen as vital to continued support, cooperation and involvement.
The newsletter, News from the Australian Alps is the major vehicle for keeping staff of the alpine parks in touch with progress on Alps projects and activities of other Australian Alps national park agencies. It is also a valuable method of raising and maintaining community awareness of the Australian Alps national parks and the benefits arising from the cooperative management program. Circulation of the newsletter was increased with distribution to other Australian Alps stakeholders including local councils, tour operators and adjacent catchment management agencies.
Australian Alps Service Awards
Staff awards have been developed to recognise high levels of staff commitment to the Australian Alps cooperative management program and to encourage staff to take a major role in contributing to the success of the program.
There are two main categories of awards for staff working or who have worked as part of the Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program. They are the Outstanding Service Award and Merit Award. The awards are intended to recognise outstanding or significant contributions.
Outstanding Service Award
Awarded to individual members of Agency staff who have made an outstanding contribution to the Australian Alps program.
Outstanding Service awards are awarded for contributions that would be considered to be of a very high standard for staff employed with an Australian Alps agency.
Mr Alistair Howard, Executive Director Operations NSW NPWS, presented two Outstanding Service Awards on behalf of the heads of agencies at the Mount Buffalo Field Workshop.
The recipients were:
Ms. Gill Anderson, Parks Victoria, for the development of the Australian Alps Vehicle Touring Guide, and
Mr Bob Jones, Parks Victoria, as a long-standing member of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.
Awarded to individual members of Agency staff who have made a significant contribution to the Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program.
The recipients were:
Mr Neville Byrne, Parks Victoria, as the former Program Coordinator, Australian Alps Liaison Committee.
Mr Gregor Manson, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, as a member of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee, and
Mr Dennis Matthews, Parks Victoria, as former Convenor of the Cultural Heritage Working Group
Annual Field Workshop
The annual field workshop is the primary opportunity to gather together field staff from the Australian Alps national parks and to provide training to a wide cross-section of park managers.
Held in November 1998 at Mount Buffalo National Park, Victoria, the annual field workshop concentrated on issues relating to recreational management. The workshop complemented Parks Victoria’s centenary celebrations, marking 100 years of park management of the cultural and natural heritage values of Mount Buffalo National Park.
Field staff considered issues relating to the balance and protection of park values while providing for the enjoyment and inspiration of visitors. The workshop examined the lessons learnt over the last century. The successful components that have been strengthened and the experiences gained when managing complex issues related to visitor and recreational management.
The field workshop also had an international element. Mr Brian Ahern from the Department of Conservation in New Zealand provided an overseas perspective to ski field and resort management. Many of the issues the Australian Alps national parks deal with are common. The worldwide effect of climate change was identified as one the major issues confronting all alpine land management agencies.
Mr David Riley, Deputy Chief Executive of Tourism Victoria, providing a thought provoking presentation on the future direction of tourism and national parks. Ms Jane Lennon, Heritage Consultant, presented a retrospective view of the development of Wilson Promontory and Mount Buffalo national parks and the associated impacts upon these parks in terms of increasing visitor numbers.
As part of the Dedication Day activities Mr Brendan Smyth, Minister for the Environment (ACT) and the Hon. Marie Tehan, Minister for Conservation and Land Management (Vic) officially launched the Australian Alps latest publication Explore the Australian Alps – the official touring guide to the Australian Alps national parks.
The field workshop also provided the opportunity for the addition of Mount Buffalo National Park to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The inclusion of alpine environments and communities not contiguous with the existing Australian Alps national parks has been discussion point for sometime.
The issue of amending the Alps MOU to allow for the inclusion of parks and reserves on the biogeographical level was raised with all Minister’s.
The Ministers fully endorsed the concept of managing and viewing the Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program on a biogeographical and regional level, rather than a series of parks and reserves which are simply contiguous with one another. This represents a significant development in terms of viewing and managing the Australian Alps national parks on regional basis.
Responsibility for day to day management of the Australian Alps national parks remains vested with each agency party to the MOU. The majority of works undertaken within the Australian Alps national parks are undertaken by the managing agencies of the parks, in line with agreed strategies and statutory management plans.
The Australian Alps national parks cooperative management program provides an opportunity for participating agencies to work together in delivering best practice land management across the Australian Alps.
The Broom Management Strategy for the Australian Alps national parks (1999) provides each agency with a regional overview and guiding strategy for the control of this invasive weed species. Parks Victoria, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and the ACT Parks & Conservation Service allocates significant financial and ‘on ground’ resources in controlling Broom. Within the Alpine National Park, Parks Victoria has implemented a control program, which has been strategically targeted in protecting the park values and to prevent the further spread of this invasive weed into new areas.
A further example of the implementation of Australian Alps strategies and management reports is in the area of historic huts. The Australian Alps Liasion Committee has prepared an inventory of historic huts with each agency managing the cultural heritage values of these sites in line with this document and the Burra Charter. As a result of this project, Parks Victoria has funded maintenance works on the historic Weston’s Hut, Wallace’s Hut and Dibbins Hut.
Hut maintenance has always been an area of concern for staff across the Australian Alps national parks. Within Kosciuszko (NSW) and Namadgi (ACT) national parks the valuable information gained from the Heritage Building Workshop will be applied in working with volunteers and staff. The Tennent Homestead precinct within Namadgi National Park has been given renewed priority for maintenance work. The workshop also provided an opportunity to impart practical techniques and for existing staff skills in this area to be shared with colleagues form across the border.
Visitor monitoring within Kosciuszko National Park has been recognised as an area of concern for some time. As a result of the Visitor Monitoring workshop coordinated by the Recreation and Tourism Working Group, staff in the park have given a higher priority to implementing effective monitoring techniques gained as a result of the workshop. Data will assist in planning for high use areas such as Long Plain and Tantangara, where it is anticipated the outputs of the recreational opportunity-mapping project will also be used.
Heads of Agencies Meeting
This annual meeting provides an important opportunity for Directors or their representatives of the MOU agencies, to come together and review progress and to discuss the future directions and projects for the cooperative management of the Australian Alps national parks. This year, as in the past, the meeting was held in conjunction with the Annual Field Workshop and addressed a range of issues including the budget, achievements to date of the cooperative management program, and future directions for the program.
Cross Border Seminars
Small-scale face-to-face workshops were found to be a very successful way of ensuring that staff are kept informed and involved in the Australian Alps cooperative management program. Agency staff provide valuable input which assists in the development and implementation of the annual cooperative works program.
These workshops, together with regular meetings and tele-conferences of Working Groups, provide some of the strongest evidence of the success and commitment of staff to the Cooperative Management Program. During the year park managers, ranger staff, planners and other Agency staff participated in a number of workshops dealing with issues of mutual interest and benefit.
Contract Management Workshop
During the reporting period the Australian Alps Liaison Committee identified the importance of contracting and procurement skills in achieving the outcomes under the Strategic Plan for the Cooperative Management of the Australian Alps.
Increasingly, working group members are undertaking project work where sound skills in purchasing, contracting and provider management are essential for the successful delivery and completion of the annual works program.
A professional development workshop was held in Tumut (NSW) for working group members. The course provided the opportunity in highlighting the underlying principles and elements of sound project and contract management skills.
Cooperative Research Centre for Mountain Tourism
Mountain tourism has been identified by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Sustainable Tourism as a large, important and distinctive component of the tourism industry in Australia. In recognition of this, the CRC for Sustainable Tourism and the Australian Alps Liaison Committee have been investigating opportunities for the development of joint research programs.
The CRC for Sustainable Tourism is a Commonwealth Government-funded organisation that promotes research in environmental, social and economic sustainability in Australia. The CRC is made up of members including government tourism organisations such as the Tourism Council of Australia, Tourism New South Wales and Tourism Victoria; and universities including La Trobe, Griffith and Canberra. The CRC is developing effective collaboration between industry and multi-discipline research groups.
Potential research project areas have been identified for the Mountain Tourism subprogram. They include, but are not limited to:
- ski resorts and best practice environmental management;
- sustainable development of backcountry tourism in mountain regions;
- sustainable development of summer tourism in mountain regions;
- the value of mountain tourism – the economic importance of mountain tourism;
- demographics of mountain tourism and trends in relation to predicted climate change; and,
- climate change and mountain tourism – potential impact of predicted climate change on tourism and mountain ecosystems.
It is a priority for the research to provide results that are useful to organisations involved in management of mountain areas along with the tourism industry. The mountain tourism subprogram presents an opportunity to further develop and contribute to the Australian Alps Liaison Committee’s annual cooperative management program.
Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program
|Agencies||Commonwealth||New South Wales||Australian Capital Territory||Victoria|
|Conservation Agencies Involved||Environment Australia||National Parks & Wildlife Service||Environment ACT||Parks Victoria|
the Hon Robert Hill
Minister for the Environment & Heritage
|The Hon. Bob Debus
Minister for the Environment
|Mr Brendan Smyth MLA
Minister for Urban Services
|The Hon. Marie Tehan
Minister for Conservation & Land Management
|Head of Agencies||Colin Griffiths
National Parks & Wildlife
National Parks & Wildlife Service
|Dr Colin Adrian
|Australian Alps Liaison Committee||Lee Thomas
Area Management Planning
Environment AustraliaPaul Stevenson
Snowy Mountains Region
National Parks & Wildlife Service
Parks & Conservation Service
|Program Coordinator||Brett Macnamara, (Seconded from ACT Parks & Conservation Service)
Australian Alps Liaison Committee
|Recreation & Tourism Working Group||Kathy TraceyDeb Bourke||Pam O’Brien (Convenor)Simon Allender||Geoff YoungKaren Civil||Peter JacobsKris Rowe|
|Community Relations Working Group||Ann JelinekJulia Stuart||Stuart Cohen||Odile Arman (Convenor)Sharon Lane||Gill AndersonDaryl Burns|
|Natural Heritage Working Group||Ben WallaceRobert Moore||Graeme EndersMick Ivill||Trish Macdonald
|Nigel WattsAndrew Murray|
|Cultural Heritage Working Group||Kathryn Maxwell (Convenor)Ken HeffernanAlistair Grinbergs||Janice CawthornColin Killick||Debbie ArgueDavid Dwyer||Ray SuppleDavid Burton|
|Financial report Year Ending 30 June 1999|
|Opening Balance||$ 181,623||Expenditures||$ 472,550|
|Revenue (Contributions/Grants)||$ 400,000||Carry over commitments||$ 67,000|
|Revenue (Programs/publications)||$ 3,098||Uncommited carry over||$ 45,171|
|Total Fund Sources||$ 584,721||Total||$ 584,721|
to 30th June
$ carried over 99/00
|Natural Heritage Conservation|
|Strategic management planning||66,348||0||50,000||16,348|
|English broom strategy review & biological control||29,068||29,068||0||0|
|Post fire vegetation monitoring Mount Buffalo||8,000||8,000||0||0|
|Post fire regeneration of grassland & bog communities monitoring||10,000||10,000||0||0|
|Stream health monitoring – stage 1||15,000||13,000||0||2,000|
|Cultural Heritage Conservation|
|Cross culture awareness workshop||5,000||0||5,000||0|
|Heritage building training workshop||30,000||22,840||0||7,159|
|Strategy planning workshop||10,000||9,407||0||593|
|Cultural significance of Australian Alps national parks||23,000||23,000||0||0|
|Visitor Facilities & Services|
|Evaluation of minimal impact brochures||30,000||26,265||0||3,735|
|Development of recreation strategy: stage 2 ROS mapping||25,000||25,000||0||0|
|Australian Alps national parks walking track||2,000||1,863||0||137|
|Best practice workshop: visitor monitoring||14,700||15,392||0||(692)|
|Traffic counter status report||5,000||4,730||0||270|
|Tour operator accreditation||20,000||10,000||0||10,000|
|Community education officer||11,500||11,500||0||0|
|Benchmark awareness survey||28,800||28,000||0||800|
|World wide web page||5,000||4,551||0||499|
|Publication of field guide||48,000||36,000||12,000||0|
|Production of Australian Alps national parks map and video||66,000||62,623||0||3,377|
|Management Expertise & Program Coordination|
|Aency straff training support||10,000||9,929||0||71|
|Annual field workshop||15,000||14,357||0||643|
|Program administration & support||25,000||24,976||0||24|
|Production of Australian Alps national parks newsletter||9,000||8,905||0||95|
|Production of Australian Alps national parks annual report||4,500||4,465||0||35|
- During the reporting period, the Australian Alps Liaison Committee has received the following publications and reports this financial year:
- Australian Alps Liaison Committee (1998) Explore the Australian Alps: touring guide to the Australian Alps national parks, New Holland Publishers
- Geoff Parr-Smith & Valerie Polley (1998) Draft: Alpine rehabilitation manual for alpine and subalpine environments in the Australian Alps
- Keith Turnbull Research Institute (1999) Broom management strategy for the Australian Alps national parks
- Worthinton DiMarsio Research (1999) Benchmark awareness & satisfaction research
- Dr Elizabeth Beckman (1999) The Alps minimal impact codes: an evaluation
- Richard Norris, University of Canberra (1999) Review of water quality studies in the Australian Alps
- Richard Norris, University of Canberra (1999) Development of a sampling framework for the Australian Alps stream health monitoring project
- Gabrielle Healy (1999) Vistor monitoring in the Australian Alps
- Jane Lennon & Associates (1999) The International significance of the cultural values of the Australian Alps
- WA Papst & CH Wahren (1999) Post fire regeneration in Victoria alpine and subalpine vegetation
- Missing Link (1999) Recreation strategy summary report: recreational opportunity spectrum mapping