Mr. Brendan Symth, MLA
Minister for Urban Services (ACT)
The Hon. Bob Debus
Minister for the Environment (New South Wales)
The Hon. Sherryl Garbutt
Minister for Conservation & Land Management (Victoria)
Senator the Hon. Robert Hill
Minister for the Environment and Heritage (Commonwealth)
We have pleasure in presenting the report of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee for the period 1st July 1999 to 30th June 2000 in accordance with the requirements of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Cooperative Management of the Australian Alps.
|Dr Colin Adrian
Parks & Conservation Service
NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
Director of National Parks
The year 1999/2000 was one of ongoing 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 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.
As in other 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 production of a suite of retail products, designed to enhance visitor experiences to the Australian Alps. The Australian Alps national parks Touring Map represents an outstanding piece of work involving digital technology. The video “Stories amoung the snow gums: a journey through the Australian Alps” has net with wide acclaim and focuses on the personal stories and memories of a diverse group of individuals, all of whom have strong connections and feelings for the Australian Alps.
Complementing these products is an easy to use, introductory field guide to the region. “WildeGuide plants and animals of the Australian Alps” has been skillfully written to suit a broad audience. It has been written and illustrated to assist those visiting the region to gain an insight into the unique natural features of the Australian Alps. The focus on ommunity awareness continued with the development and production of an Australian Alps icon brochure and travelling display. Both products were produced as a means of communicating the unique features and values of the region as well as the tangible benefits of the Australian Alps cross border cooperative management program.
A key initiative was the commissioning of a study into the natural values of the Australian Alps national parks. Dr Peter Coyne was seconded from Environment Australia to undertake a major strategic project “Protecting the Natural Treasures of the Australian Alps”. The project has identified and documented thes tatus of the significant natural features of the Australian Alps and their immediate threats. As a result, a long term srategy has been developed which has prioritised the features and threats in terms of allocating future resources for research and management funding.
During the reporting period the Cultural Heritage Working Grup developed and successfully delivered an indigenous issues awareness workshop titled Communicating Across Cultures. The workshop provided field bases staff and managers working in the Australian Alps with an awareness into, and greater understanding of, the issues faced by contemporary Aboriginal people.
Visitor facilities and services were targeted with the AALC hosting a 5-day international workshop that examined the issue of human waste management. Through a comprehensive program of plenary and concurrent sessions, site visites and industry exhibitions, delegates explored contemporary approaches to human faecal waste management at visitor facilities, trailheads and in the remote backcountry of the Australian Alps national parks.
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 response of staff has been to give their time in addition to their normal duties and become closelt involved with the Australian Alps program.
The cooperation management strategies and implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding have been recognised internationally as world’s best practice. I believe this report reflects the success and relevance of teh Australian Alps cooperative management program to land managers, stakeholders and to the wider community.
I would like to record my sincere thanks to the members of the working groups and the Australian Alps Liaison Committee for the collective efforts inachieving excellence in cross border protected area management.
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 areas 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 European heritage. In addition these parks and reserves are highly valued as a 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 resigned 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.
Responsbility 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 with the Australian Alps natinal parks are undertaken by the managing agencies in line with agreed strategies and statutory management plans.
The vision of 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 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||12 600|
|Scabby Range Nature Reserve||4 500|
|Bimberi Nature Reserve||7 100|
|Australian Capital Territory||Size (ha)|
|Namadgi National Park||105 900|
Under the MOU, the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC) is established with a senior manager from each of th 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. The structure for the reporting period is presented in Attachment 1.
To assist in the achievement of 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 Alps Program Coordinator position. During the reporting period, the ACT Parks & Conservation Srvice (Environment ACT) provided the financial management support for the Alps 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 funding to the Australian Alps cooperative works program is made by the AALC. Development of the annual cooperative works program is achieved through submissions of project proposals which must be within the goals of the Australian Alps Strategic Plan.
Working groups consider the merits of the projects submitted and make recommendations to the AALC for funding. Project Management is undertaken by officers who represent their agency on the various working groups or by identified project officers whooversee and manage the projects. The 1999/2000 annual works program budget 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 MOU, the AALC 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 AALC for the approved works program under the MOU. The AALC 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 AALC may invite managers of other alpine and subalpine parks, conservation reserves or relevant bodies to participate in specific cooperative programs where benefits from consistent management alpine and subalpine environments can be expected.
A number of Working Groups are established to guide and direct the implementation of the Alps annual cooperative 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 teh Australian Alps. Working Groups are closely aligned to specific Key Result Areas of park management. Refer to program structure, Attachment 1.
Media and Community Projects Officer
Increased public awareness of the important values of the Australian Alps is a major goal of the cooperative management program. Awareness is achieved through publicising, 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.
The reporting period was a significant year for the Alps program, with Ms Cath Renwick, the Media and Community Projects Officer providing numerous press releases and media stories to local, national and international media outlets. In all 23 media releases were circulated, resulting in more than 80 regional or metropolitan interviews and articles on Australian Alps activities, publications and outputs.
The highly successful Human Waste Management Workshop attracted significant media interest and provided the opportunity to communicate to a wide audience the complex issues faced by land managers in dealing with human waste throughout the Australian Alps national parks.
National media interest was also attracted by the launch of an Alps publication. The Honourable Tim Fischer, Member for Fraser, accepted an AALC invitation to launch the new field guide to Australian Alps national parks: “WildGuide plants and animals of the Australian Alps”.
A number of tourism related projects have also produced tangible results during the year. The Tourism Promotion Package has been designed to provide rangers with a ‘grab bag’ of material to assist in delivering accurate and quality information about the Australian Alps national parks to interested tourism groups and stakeholders. The material produced will dispel some commonly held myths and present information about minimal impact behaviours in the mountains.
The training module Interpreting the Australian Alps national parks for Tour Guides was accredited late in 1999. Since then a package of learning materials has been developed. This project will be used in delivering high quality training modules to tour guides operating throughout the Australian Alps national parks.
WildGuide to the Australian Alps
Barbara Cameron-Smith from Cameo Interpretive 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, “WildGuide Pants and Animals of the Australian Alps” has been designed to introduce the reader to commonly seen plants and animals in the Australian Alps. It includes a number of threatened species as well as feral plants and animals that have become established in the Australian Alps and impact on native species. The target audience for WildGuide is the general visiting public who may not have training or experience in the scientific or taxonomic identification of alpine and subalpine species.
WildGuide has been well accepted in the market place as a valuable introductory publication to the plants and animals of the region. It has been skillfully written to increase community understanding and appreciation for the unique natural heritage values of the alpine and subalpine environments and the importance of conserving the Australian Alps national parks.
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 MOU. The 1998/99 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.
World Wide Web Page
The Australian Alps national parks web site has continued to develop and evolve over the reporting period. Hosted by Environment Australia, the site is the first point of contact for inquiries to the Australian Alps national parks and for those seeking more information on the Alps cooperative management program.
During 1999/2000 over 280 public email inquiries were answered by the Media and Community Projects Office on topics ranging from mining in national parks to sustainable tourism.
Three new pages went up on the site with the view of assisting the popular email queries:
- How can I gain work with the Australian Alps national parks?
- Can you provide information about the Australian Alps as I have to do a school/university assignment on the subject? and
- Where can I walk/ride/drive in the Australian Alps national parks
Further enhancements to the site include an expanded list of reference material on the Australian Alps; an improved publications page and updated media releases, reports and newsletters. The wb page was also used extensively in publicising the Human Waste Mangement Workshop. A call for papers was posted on thes ite along with the workshop program and other details about registration and location.
The Australian Alps home page can be found at: www.australianalps.environment.gov.au
The Australian Institute of Alpine Studies (AIAS) web site is also hosted by Environment Australia. The original site was totally redesigned this year, at the same time it was given a new URL.
Tour Operator Training
Another popular series of Tour Operator training workshops was held in Kosciuszko National Park. The three-day residential workshop was a precursor in developing an accredited training module for tour operators in the Australian Alps national parks. The workshop supported the regional tourism industry by providing quality information and interpretation training and promoted increased cooperation between Australian Alps national parks and the broad tourism industry.
Alps Icon Brochure & Travelling Display
During the reporting period an Alps icon brochure and travelling display were produced as a means of communicating the unique features of the region as well as the tangible benefits of the Australian Alps cross border cooperative management program. Both products have been developed for Visitor Information Centres around the region and for general parks visitors. The colour brochure and display are in a similar style which reflects the unique beauty and diversity of the region.
The four lightweight travelling displays will form an integral component in the AALC endeavours to advance the region and the Alps Program at local shows, shopping centres and visitor centres. The displays fully compliment the icon brochure and promote the Australian Alps national parks as containing significant natural and cultural values as well as being a premiere tourist destination.
Frontline of the Alps
A two day training workshop developed for visitor services staff entitled Frontline pf the Alps: a training workshop was convened by the Community Relations Working Group during the reporting period and held in Jinadbyne (NSW).
Thirty-five frontline staff from visitor centres from over twelve organisations in the ACT, NSW and Victoria attended. The workshop aimed to increase participant’s knowledge of the Australian Alps national parks as a premier tourist destination, while becoming familiar with the information material produced by AALC. The workshop also provided the opportunity for participants to network with colleagues from ‘across the border’. The workshop successfully achieved one of the key objectives of the Australian Alps program in raising community awareness and understanding of the overall management principles of the Australian Alps national parks and the objectives of the Alps cooperative management program.
A small registration fee was charged to attend with participants receiving a copy of the Australian Alps Tourist may, video ‘Stories Among the Snowgum’ and a choice of WildGuide or Explore the Alps. The evaluation conducted at the conclusion of the workshop revealed that participants indicated a very high level of satisfaction with these products, particularly the Alps Tourist Map and Explore, indicating that such products would greatly enhance visitor experience to the Australian Alps national parks.
The workshop included a number of topical presentations that addressed such issues as minimal impact, recreational management, natural and cultural heritage values of the Alps bioregion, together with opportunities in managing national parks for visitors. In addition, there was an extensive one-day field trip, along with group presentations. The workshop was well received with participants expressing a high level of satisfaction. A further workshop is planned for 2002 in Victoria.
Distribution and Marketing Strategy
The AALC has recently entered into a new partnership arrangement with CanPrint Communications to undertake distribution and marketing of all Alps related products and publications.
CanPrint Communications operates an extensive network which incorporates a national call centre, customer information services, publication warehousing and distribution. Underpinning this operation is a state of the art in house UNILINK BookNET database management, subscriber services and retail sales processing. CanPrint Communications will also undertake a proactive marketing role in terms of reaching a wider audience for Australian Alps products than currently is the case.
As a result of this strategic partnership, the AALC is keen to enhance and supplement arrangements with CanPrint Communications for the marketing and dissemination of Alps information and products through this comprehensive network.
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 mange and protect this region.
Kosciuszko Alpine Flora: second edition
The first edition of Kosciusko Alpine Flora published by CSIRO in 1979, was met with wide praise from expert and layperson alike, from around the world as a benchmark publication. Now out-of-print, it is soon to be republished in a completely revised second edition, with the latest species revisions and new photographs.
Supported with seed funding from the AALC, as well as from the CRC for Sustainable Tourism, CSIRO Publishing commenced work on the new Kosciuszko Alpine Flora in 1999. As well as describing and illustrating the areas’ 200+ native species, 21 of them endemic, it discusses the geological and human history of the area, the life-form and habitat classifications of the plants, and explores the various plant communities and their environmental relationships. The book contains identification keys, detailed descriptions, and distribution and habitat notes for each species. Superb colour photographs show details of flowers, fruit, foliage, and ecological relationships.
The new book includes a comprehensive table which shows which species are to be found in the other alpine areas of NSW, as well as ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand.
The 400 page book will be published as a hard-back, while an affordable soft-cover ‘field edition’, which omits the detailed taxonomic section, will be published for the benefit of the growing tourist market to the Australian Alps national parks.
Both editions of Kosciuszko Alpine Flora are due for release in December 2000.
Natural Treasures of the Australian Alps
The Australian Alps national parks are a treasure-trove of remarkable features, some of which occur no where else in the world. The region contains the only marsupial species which stores food; an insect which changes colour to reflect or absorb heat and, a remarkable cliff-bound lake created by the grinding action of a glacier. The catalogue is long and diverse, yet the significant natural values of the Australian Alps national parks is rarely fully recognised.
In December 1999 the Natural Heritage Working Group seconded Dr Peter Coyne from Environment Australia to undertake a major strategic project “Protecting the Natural Treasures of the Australian Alps”. The project was to identify and document the status of the significant natural features of the Australian Alps and the threats to them. The project also involved prioritising the features and threats in terms of allocating future resources for research and management funding. Ranking of priorities was undertaken by a workshop of agency and university experts and others with relevant expertise.
The report identifies more than one thousand significant natural features of the Australian Alps, and the threats to their continued survival, and assesses their priorities. The recommendations are designed to improve the long-term security of national and international assets by encouraging the collection of detailed scientific information and by striving for best practice management approaches to be implemented across the Australian Alps bioregion.
The report recommends that greater emphasis be given to managing the Australian Alps national parks as a single entity rather than as discrete functional units, and recommends strategies by which this can be achieved.
The AALC and the CRC for Sustainable Tourism provided additional funding to enable the development of an interactive electronic database from information collected during the project.
Alps Stream Health Monitoring
The use of biological rather than chemical methods for assessing water quality has increased in the last decade. The Australian River Assessment Scheme (AUSRIVAS) has been developed and provides a standardised, easy to use and rapid method for assessing the relative health of streams.
During the reporting period the macroinvertebrate fauna and a wide range of habitat features were sampled and measured at 95 sites across the Australian Alps national parks.
Seventy-nine reference, minimally impacted sites were used to provide baseline conditions against which test sites can be compared and assessed. Sixteen test sites with suspected or known impacts were sampled and assessed using AUSRIVAS.
AUSRIVAS uses environmental characteristics that are unaffected by human activities as an independent way of matching test sites with reference sites. Consequently the macroinvertebrate fauna expected to occur at a site in the absence of environmental stress can be predicted. The fauna observed (O) at a site can then be compared to fauna expected (E), with deviation between the two providing an indication of biological condition. A site displaying no biological impairment should have an O/E ratio close to one. The information from the 79 reference sites sampled has been used to construct an “alps” AUSRIVAS model with the model known as the ALps Summer Riffle and a description of the methods now available on the Internet (Coysh et al. 2000).
The AUSRIVAS predictive models are a valuable tool for identifying possible effect of land uses and management practices on the biological communities of rivers and streams within the Australian Alps national parks. The impacts of management activities such as grazing, track construction and fire can now be easily assessed using the AUSRIVAS “Alps” model.
Population Ecology of Feral Horses in Australian Alps
Horses are a feral species capable of damaging the unique and natural values of teh Australian Alps. They are also of cultural interest. It has been shown in central Australia and other places around the world that research into their biology (relevant to their impact and control) not only improves management, but also helps abate conflict between interest groups.
In 1999, Michelle Walter commenced a PhD partly funded by AALC at the University of Canberra (Applied Ecology Research Group) on the population ecology of feral horses in the Australian Alps. The project has three main components: distribution and abundance, population dynamics, and factors limiting population growth. Preliminary results are available for the first two components.
Feral horses are not evenly distributed across the Alps. The most extensive populations occur between Thredbo (NSW) and Buchan (Victoria). The second most extensive population occurs north of the Snowy Mountains Highway within the northern section of Kosciuszko National Park. There are smaller scattered populations elsewhere in the Alps. Total abundance will be estimated from an aerial survey in 2001.
Feral horses have recently recolonised the alpine area after being absent since the grazing era. The project has monitored abundance and distribution between Kosciuszko and South Ramshead every three weeks since May 1999. Numbers have varied between 0 and 22 individuals (average 5.3) and have been concentrated in the Swampy Plains River valley and the low areas just north of South Ramshead. Evidence of grazing has been observed on Luzula supp., Celmisia sp., Chinochloa frigida and Craspedia sp. Noticeable tracking impacts have also been observed in fragile alpine plant communities.
Demographic parameters are being measured at three sites each spring and autumn for 3 years. Population estimates for spring 1999 are 73 for Currango, 57 for the Big Boggy and 80 for Cowombat. Preliminary analysis suggests a foaling rate of 0.31 foals/adult female. Similar foaling rates occur in New Zealand and central Australia, while higher rates are evident for populations from 5 states of the USA. When more results are available, models will be fitted to the data to assess trends in the population under a variety of future potential management scenarios.
Spotted-tailed Quoll: Simulated Aerial Baiting Impact
During the reporting period the AALC partly funded a project to investigate the ability of Spotted-tailed Quolls to locate and consume meat baits deployed during a simulated aerial baiting program.
A simulated aerial program was carried out in Tallaganda State Forest (southeastern New South Wales) in order to determine what percentage of a population of Spotted-tailed Quolls were able to locate and consume aerially-deployed meat baits. The trail replicated a standard aerial baiting program except that the baits were injected with a non-toxic biomarker, a dye called Rhodamine B, rather than the toxin 1080.
Analysis of facial hairs or whiskers indicated that 10 of 16 quolls captured had consumed Rhodamine B-injected baits. Both male and female quolls had located and consumed baits, including three of four females captured that had punch young.
The result that over 60% of the sampled quoll population were able to locate and consume an aerially-deployed meat bait in a single baiting operation suggests that aerial baiting at the intensity used during this trial in forested habitats may pose a serious risk to populations of this threatened species.
The results suggests that land management agencies that employ aerial baiting in areas inhabited by Spotted-tailed Quolls should review their use of the method, and consider the use of techniques which reduce the risk to quolls locating and consuming poison baits.
A working draft of the Rehabilitation Manual was released during the year to assist field staff and others in the rehabilitation of distributed land in the Australian Alps national parks. In particular in the manual addresses distribution 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 with 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.
English Broom (Cytisus scoparius) Management Strategy
The Broom (Cytisus scoparius) Management Strategy for the Australian Alps national parks (AAnp’s) has recently been completed. The project came about as a result of a partnership between the AALC and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE).
English/Scotch broom (scientific name Cytisus scoparius) is an upright evergreen shrub of European origin. Historical records reflect that broom was deliberately introduced into Australia for its ornamental value around 1800. However, outside of its native range broom becomes an aggressive invader of a broad range of ecological habitats and as such has been declared a noxious environmental weed in the South-eastern states of Australia.
Broom has successfully invaded large areas of the Australian Alps national parks since its introduction over 150 years ago. Broom currently occupies some 200,000 hectares of the natural environment in Australia, the majority of this with the Australian Alps. Broom has a significant impact on the biodiversity and natural values of invaded habitats through the formation of chokingly dense understorey infestations. Broom also threatens the survival of rare and endangered plant communities, one of which, the extremely rare enigmatic Greenhood Orchid, Pterostylis aenigma, is found only in areas that are presently infested, or are under threat, from this invasive weed.
During the reporting period the AALC commissioned a review of the occurrence of broom within the AAnp’s and he development of an integrated broom management strategy for use by field staff. Researchers from DNRE have prepared the Broom Management Strategy for the Australian Alps national parks in collaboration with AAnp’s rangers and park planners.
The strategy incorporates information and ideas on the best practice management of broom into a practical integrated management strategy for use by field staff throughout the Australian Alps biogeographical region.
The strategy recognises the need to prevent the establishment of new broom infestations within the AAnp’s and to contain the spread of existing infestations. The need to develop targeted education and awareness campaigns is also recognised as a critical requirement in minimising the impact of broom. The strategy identifies areas of integrated broom management requiring research and development if land managers are to continue developing broom control expertise.
Cultural Heritage Research and Implementation Strategy
During the reporting period the AALC commissioned a project to undertake a desktop review and develop a Cultural Heritage Implementation Strategy based on the known cultural heritage values of the region. An officer from Environment ACT was seconded on a six month project to:
- assess and supplement the available information about cultural heritage in teh Alps national parks in light of the new initiatives being taken to consider cultural values in national context,
- review cultural heritage management guidelines which had been prepared for the AALC,
- establish if it would be feasible to create a simple database of cultural heritage sites in the Australian Alps national parks.
Following guidelines established under the Australian Heritage Commission’s Principal Historic Themes the Cultural Heritage Research and Implementation Strategy has identified existing gaps in the knowledge of cultural heritage values within the Australian Alps national parks.
As a result of this gap analysis, the Cultural Heritage Working Group has identified a number of projects for consideration. It is anticipated that an outcome from each project will be to contribute to an ongoing analysis of national heritage values and significance of the Australian Alps national parks.
The project also discusses the feasibility of establishing a simple database of cultural heritage sites in the Australian Alps and has identified the style of management guidelines considered by staff to be of most practical application in their day-to-day work.
Communicating Across Cultures
During the reporting period the Cultural Heritage Working Group developed and successfully delivered an indigenous issues awareness workshop titled Communicating Across Cultures.
Held in November 1999 the Communicating Across Cultures Workshop provided over 22 participants representing all four agencies involved in the Alps Program with a valuable insight into Aboriginal culture, society and contemporary issues faced in today’s society. 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. It also provided them with valuable skills to assist them in the development of more effective working relationships with Aboriginal people who have an interest in the Australian Alps national parks.
In developing the workshop, the Cultural Heritage Working Group consulted widely with Aboriginal people and organisations dealing with indigenous people and their heritage. The workshop facilitators were selected in light of their demonstrable and extensive experience in illustrating the issues of concern to Indigenous Australians and working with government agencies at both the State and Commonwealth level to improve understanding of Aboriginal issues.
Cultural Heritage Residential Training Course: A Feasibility Study
During the reporting period the AALC initiated a project to scope a residential training course on the cultural heritage values of the Australian Alps national parks.
As a part of this feasibility study, Earthlines (Marion van Gameren and Dierdre Slattery) were engaged to determine the viability, recommend the content and identify the logistics for a residential course. Through responses to a questionnaire, a large percentage of land managers expressed interest in participating in a residential cultural heritage course.
The feasibility study recommends progressing from the provision of core information, to developing expertise in methodologies and the use of cultural heritage expertise, to small group research, investigation and planning projects. Heritage themes would be used to provide coherence and a means for helping participants develop a deeper understanding of certain aspects of the cultural heritage.
In delivering the course, a coordinator with proven educational skill and experience would manage the course and lead a team of motivated heritage professionals with proven communication skills committed to spending time leading and interacting with course participants.
One of the aims of the course would be to eventually achieve tertiary accreditation.
In order to broaden the expertise involved and assist with the financial resourcing required in delivering the residential course, the AALC intends to seek partners to join with it in staging the pilot course.
Human Waste Management Workshop
Following on from its successful Visitor Monitoring Workshop in 1999, the Recreation and Tourism Working Group developed and hosted a 5-day international best practice Human Waste Management Workshop in March 2000.
The workshop was part of a series of best practice workshops designed for land managers who are confronted by and deal with, contemporary park management issues as they occur throughout the Australian Alps national parks.
Through a comprehensive program of plenary and concurrent sessions, site visits and industry exhibitions, delegates explored contemporary approaches to human faecal waste management at visitor facilities, trailheads and in backcountry protected areas.
Eight-four delegates from Australia and overseas participated in the workshop, including staff from Australian Alps national parks and other park and land management agencies, local government, waste industry, consultants, user groups and tertiary institutions.
The formal program and the informal networking opportunities provided delegates access to an extensive range of knowledge and experience on the subject matter. Some thirty sessions were presented by speakers from Australia, New Zealand and North America, including case studies, composting toilet technologies, design and system selection, environmental impact evaluations and wet vault technology.
Site visits were conducted in Namadgi National Park, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (ACT) and Kosciuszko National Park (NSW).
The overall budget for the workshop was augmented by additional sponsorship from Parks Victoria and the CRC for Sustainable Tourism.
The best practice program will continue next year with a workshop on walking track construction, maintenance and management techniques to be held in the Alpine National Park, Victoria.
Australian Alps Walking Track Re-route
The Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT), opened in 1995, provides an identified route through the Australian Alps between Walhalla in Victoria and Tharwa on the outskirts of Canberra.
In April this year work commenced on the 5km re-route of the AAWT within Namadgi National Park (ACT). The project, which aimed to divert the track off two relatively busy public roads, was identified as a high priority in the AAWT Management Strategy, 1997. The project received funding from the AALC and was matched by $10,000 from the ACT Parks and Conservation Service.
More than 90% of the new track is complete. The remainder of the work will be completed in spring with the installation of decking on a number of bridges together with track signage and appropriate markers.
This re-route between Booroomba Roacks carpark and th Honeysuckle Plateau takes the AAWT alignment off the Booroomba Road and the Honeysuckle Road. By taking the track off the roads the walker’s experience and safety will be greatly enhanced.
The lower 2km of new track follows a formerly overgrown, disused 4 wheel drive track while the top 3km of track has been benched in by hand. It gently follows the natural contours of the land where possible to minimise drainage problems. water diversion bars have been installed along the length of the new realignment with hardwood steps located in steeper areas.
Several watercourses have had footbridges placed over them with very little disturbance to the natural environment. This not only prevents wet feet but also reduces impacts on water flow.
The sourcing of materials was carefully undertaken to obtain an environmentally sound outcome. The hardwood steps and bridge spans were all salvaged from a new powerline easement tree clearing activity. The decking for the 8 footbridges was obtained from an Australian firm, specialising in the use of mill waste from durable eucalypt species that may otherwise not be used. The contractors used for the track construction were Kangarutha Nursery together with assistance from local volunteer crews.
Recreational Planning Model
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 the next stage to determine a set of potential sites where the model should be applied.
The objectives of this stage 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 results to date have now been analysed with the implementation phase to be commenced within the northern section of Kosciuszko (NSW) and Namadgi (ACT) national parks. This final phase of the project will refine and improve the decision making process regarding the implementation of recreation planning model in these strategic areas.
Alps Invaders: Weed Identification Course
During the reporting period two training activities were conducted focusing on th identification and recognition of invasive plants within the Australian Alps national parks. These events were conducted jointly by the CRC for Weed Management Systems (Weeds CRC), the National Herbarium of Victoria and the AALC.
The one day training seminars were held at Howmans Gap, Victoria and Tumut, NSW and presented by experienced professionals from the Weeds CRC and the National Herbarium of Victoria. The seminars were designed to assist participants in recognising common, sleeper and potential weeds species to the region, and to influence more effective weed management through correct identification of invasive weed species. The philosophy behind the training development was to keep the information as simple as possible and to avoid complex biological jargon. A supportive learning environment was created where participants could share their own knowledge and gain from the experience of the presenters.
An evaluation of the training seminars revealed that participants felt that the course outcomes exceeded expectations.
Alpine Ecology Workshop
The AALC sponsored three field staff to attend the 2000 Alpine Ecology Workshop held at Bogong High Plains (Victoria). The four-day intensive residential course presented by La Trobe University and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (Victoria) 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 and other interested stakeholders 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.
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 1999 at the Upper Murray Resort, Walwa, Victoria, the annual field workshop concentrated on issues relating to volunteer management.
The field workshop also provided the opportunity for networking within the agencies, as well as the opportunity to learn about key Alps projects currently underway across the Australian Alps national parks.
The field workshop provided the opportunity to discuss a number of key principles to effective volunteer management. Workshop topics included:
- Planning, orientation and training
- Occupational Health and Safety
- Motivating volunteers
- Placement and work programs
- Rewards and retention
- Communication and feedback
Field staff considered issues relating to the balance and integration of volunteer programs in the content of natural and cultural resource management and the protection of those values. Through the field workshop participants were able to compare and contrast the successful components and experiences gained when managing issues related to volunteer management.
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 within the Australian Alps national parks are undertaken by the managing agencies of the parks, in line with agreed strategies and statutory management plans.
Through the Australian Alps national parks cooperative management program, the AALC has sought to provide land managers with the appropriate technical tools by way of sound scientific advice within management reports and strategies, to assist in achieving the objectives of the MOU in delivering best practice land management across the region.
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 have again allocated 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.
During the reporting period, Parks Victoria funded KTRI to research and develop biological control agents for English Broom. This program involved the importing of key control agents such as the twig mining moth and their release at selected nursery sites across the Park. Parks Victoria have also been supporting LA Trobe University in trialling different techniques (spray – burn – spray) for control of English Broom.
In Kosciuszko National Park and the adjoining Scabby Range Nature Reserve (NSW), the Broom Control Program has been maintained and expanded in response to the location of previously unknown infestation sites. Within Namadgi National Park (ACT) over 500 staff and volunteer hours were spent in controlling and monitoring Broom during the reporting period.
A further example of the implementation of Australian Alps strategies and management reports is in the area of historic huts. NSW NPWS has funded maintenance works on the historic Geehi Huts. 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 valuable hut conservation work has again been achieved by the Kosciusko Huts Association – a group of dedicated volunteers.
Within the Alpine National Park (Victoria) restoration of several historic graziers huts, Westons and Ropers on the Bogong High Plains, was undertaken with the assistance of some very skilled volunteers. The Heritage Huts Survey (1996) prepared for the AALC was invaluable in determining conservation works to be undertaken.
The outcomes of the Australian Alps Human Waste management Workshop has enabled staff across the region to critically evaluate their program of toilet upgrades, particularly in alpine and subalpine environments. Actions arising from the workshop include the updating of OH&S procedures for the cleaning and maintenance of facilities, with particular emphasis on composting toilets along with an overall review into the effectiveness of composting toilet systems.
The booklet, Alps Invaders, has been acquired by the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority (SMHEA) for key field operative staff in Kosciuszko National park as a means of assisting in the identification and control of invasive weeds. This “guide” has found a niche in many glove boxes throughout the Alps.
In Victoria, Alpine National Park rangers ran several “Weeds Summit” forums for alpine resort managers, VicRoads, DNRE and ski lift companies. These forums aimed to build on the information provided in the Alps Invaders booklet and raise the profile and control of weeds common to the Alps. Hawk Weed, a new ‘Alps Invader’ was identified and recorded.
The results of the spotted tail quoll study into the aerial impacts of 1080 poison have proved invaluable for staff in NPWS reserves in South East NSW, where wild dog problems have become a significant issue. The results have greatly assisted to plan and implement a trial buried baiting program throughout the Byadbo Wildeness area in South East Kosciuszko National Park.
Raising community awareness of teh Australian Alps national parks as a unique mountainous region crossing state and territory boundaries continues to be a public relations focus for the AALC. Within Mount Buffalo National Park and Alpine National Park the development of fifteen new information panels and plaques have included AAnp’s information (Why are the Alps so special? and Working together). The installation of two high profile landscape plaques at Mount Buffalo national Park have been particularly successful in promoting the Australian Alps to thousands of park visitors.
In addition to signage Parks Victoria’s alpine parks summer and winter face to face interpretation programs revolved around the theme “The Australian Alps – delicate, beautiful but threatened”.
The Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) offers a tangible example of the Alps as a single region with people working cooperatively togetther across park boundaries. Across the Alps the AAWT is regarded as a major recreation facility with a high level of community ownership and support. The AAWT Strategy (1997) provided the necessary guidelines for extensive AAWT maintenance and signage upgrades along several popular but relatively remote sections in the Victorian alps.
Heads of Agencies Meeting
This annual meeting provides an important opportunity for Directors and Heads of Agencies of the MOU parties, to come together and to review progress and to discuss the future directions and projects for the cooperative management of the Australian Alps national parks. During the reporting period, the meeting was held in Canberra and addressed a range of issues including the drafting of the 2000-2003 Australian Alps Strategic Plan, program budget, achievements to date of the cooperative management program, and future directions for the program.
Cross Border Seminars
Small-scale face-to-face workshops have been found to be the most successful way to ensure that staff are kept informed and involved in the Australia Alps cooperative management program. Agency staff provide valuable input which assisted in 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.
Closer Liaison with Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife
During the reporting period the AALC met with representatives from the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (TPWS) to discuss foraging closer links between the Alps program and our Tasmanian colleagues.
Max Kitchell, Director of TPWS, supported the concept of exploring closer liaison and agreed that quality work within mountain protected areas was being done on both sides of the Bass Strait, experiences that should be shared. THE TPWS has much to offer with extensive experience in recreational, natural and cultural heritage management.
The objective of the new arrangement is for closer Tasmanian involvement on a bioregional approach to alpine park management, refining best practice management techniques and expertise with associated economies of scale.
initially the arrangement will involve the appointment of Tim O’Loughlin as a Tasmanian Liaison Officer to the Alps Program. Tim will act as the first point of contact between the Alps Program and the TPWS and assist in facilitating the flow of information across Bass Strait.
CRC for Sustainable 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, CRC for Sustainable Tourism and the AALC have been investigation opportunities for the development of joint research programs.
The CRC for Sustainable Tourism is a Commonwealth Government-funded organisation that promotes reserach 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 arenot limited to:
- ski resort and best practice environmental management;
- sustainable development of backcountry 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.
Is 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 AALC’s annual cooperative mangement program.
Australian Alps national parks 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|
|Responsible Minister||Senator the Hon.
Minister for the Environment & Heritage
|The Hon. Bob Debus
Minister for the Environment
|Mr Brendan Smyth MLA
Minister for Urban Services
|The Hon. Sheryl Garbutt
Minister for Environment & Conservation
|Head of Agencies||Peter Cochrane
National Parks & Wildlife Service
|Dr Colin Adrian
|Australian Alps Liaison Committee||Lee Thomas
Area Management Planning
Environment AustraliaPaul Stevenson
|Janet Mackay (Apr 2000)
Snowy Mountains Region
NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
|Stepehn hughes (May 2000)
Parks & Conservation Service
|Program Coordinator||Brett Macnamara (seconded ACT Parks & Conservation Service)|
|Recreation & Tourism Working Group||Kathy Tracey||Monica McDonald
|Angie Jenkins (Feb 2001)
Karen Civil (Convenor)
|Community Relations Working Group||Ann Jelinek
|Odile Arman (Convenor)
|Natural Heritage Working Group||Ben Wallace
Rob Hunt (Convenor)
|Cultural Heritage Working Group||Kathryn Maxwell
Alistair Grinsberg (Convenor)
Financial report Year Ending 30 June 2000
|Opening Balance||$ 112,171||Expenditures||$ 533,915|
|Revenue (Contributions/Grants)||$ 400,000||Carry-over commitments||$ 0|
|Revenue (Programs/publications)||$ 27,449||Uncommited carry-over||$ 5,705|
|Total Fund Sources||$ 539,620||Total||$ 539,620|
to 30th June
$ carried over 00/01
|Natural Heritage Conservation|
|Strategic management planning||50,000||49,477||0||523|
|Stream health monitoring||80,000||80,000||0||0|
|Kosciuszko Alpine Flora reprint||33,500||33,500||0||0|
|Effects of aerial baiting: Tiger Quolls||18,000||18,000||0||0|
|Population ecology of brumbies||23,000||23,000||0||0|
|Cultural Heritage Conservation|
|Research & implementation strategy||40,000||39,031||0||968|
|Residential course: Feasibility study||7,000||6,327||0||673|
|Cross cultural awareness workshop||5,000||5,169||0||(169)|
|Visitor Facilities & Services|
|Recreation model strategy||3,000||3,000||0||0|
|Best practice: Human waste management workshop||38,000||37,747||0||253|
|AAWT strategy meeting||1,000||1,000||0||0|
|Learning material for tour operators||5,000||5,055||0||(55)|
|AAWT reroute Honeysuckle ACT||10,000||9,995||0||5|
|Cross country ski trail working group||3,000||2,215||0||785|
|Distribution & marketing strategy||5,000||5,000||0||0|
|Media & Community Education Officer||26,000||26,000||0||0|
|Frontline of the Alps training workshop||13,500||12,944||0||556|
|World wide web page||7,000||6,000||0||1,000|
|Display support program||10,000||9,990||0||10|
|Australian Alps icon brochure||10,000||10,000||0||0|
|Management Expertise & Program Coordination|
|Aency straff training support||5,000||4,584||0||452|
|Annual field workshop||10,000||10,915||0||(915)|
|Program administration & support||25,000||24,391||0||609|
|Secondment related employee assistance||12,000||12,048||0||(48)|
|Production of Australian Alps national parks newsletter||9,000||8,983||0||17|
|Production of Australian Alps national parks annual report||4,500||4,500||0||0|