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Alpine area is not a "cow paddock"

Research has shown that grazing has had a substantial impact on the composition, structure and condition of all the major vegetation types eaten by livestock, on virtually all of the Bogong High Plains. We don't need any more research in the Australian Alps on cattle grazing.

The Baillieu government has been trying to blackmail the University of Melbourne into overseeing its controversial alpine grazing trial by threatening to withdraw millions of dollars in research funding.

Associate Professor Dr Bossinger of the School of Land and Environment said previous studies had found the incidence of fire in the high country was not cut by cattle grazing. The School was basically being blackmailed to give the research results wanted.

There is no need for more research on the impact of cattle on the Australian Alps. They, including the Bogong High Plains, have been used for the summer agistment of domestic livestock for nearly 150 years.


Stella Grace Maisie Fawcett (1902-1988)
an Australian Botanist played a central role in demonstrating the effects of overgrazing on Australia’s high plains. She headed a study by the Soil Conservation Board to measure the toll that cattle and sheep were having on the landscape.

Fawcett (later Mrs Carr), an ecologist, was appointed by the newly formed Soil Conservation Board in 1941 to assess the effects of cattle grazing in the vegetation of the Bogong High Plains.

During the summer of the severe 1902-03 drought, 40,000 sheep, in addition to large mobs of cattle and horses, were grazing on the Bogong High Plains. The late 19th century and the early 20th had the peak number of livestock grazing there.

The results were devastating to the environment. In many places the soils and vegetation were damaged severely and in some places stripped entirely, and stony erosion pavements resulted. Alpine soils are extremely low in nutrients, and are easily disturbed by erosion. This means a short regrowth season, and regeneration is slow.

'Alpine grazing reduces blazing' is a widely and strongly held view concerning the effects of livestock grazing on fuels, and therefore fire behaviour and impact, in Australia's high country landscapes.

"...it can be concluded that protection from grazing and absence of fire results in (a) the development of luxuriant vegetation which provides adequate cover for the soil surface, and (b) promotes an improvement in soil structure and presumably in the hydrological characteristics of the mossbeds and their catchments."' Carr, S.G.M. (Maisie Fawcett) Report on Inspection of the Bogong High Plains, 1977.

It is of significance that the majority of fires in these areas were actually lit by the graziers themselves in an attempt to obtain better quality pasture in the short term.

Studies have shown that free-ranging cattle affect alpine plant communities by grazing selectively (e.g. by preferring herbaceous vegetation to shrubby vegetation) and by trampling the vegetation.

In 1946 the government departments and graziers acted together to make sheep, horses and burning off banned. The length of grazing season limited and cattle numbers held at then current levels.

Wetlands occur where drainage is impeded, and water remains near the soil surface for more than one month per year. They are vital to water catchment protection, soil conservation, and maintenance of nature conservation values. They have been listed under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

Few grazed wetlands on the Bogong High Plains are in good condition.
Analysis of the decades of data showed that grazing did not reduce blazing as the cattlemen had argued.

Research has shown that grazing has had a substantial impact on the composition, structure and condition of all the major vegetation types eaten by livestock, on virtually all of the Bogong High Plains. Cattle grazing, by increasing the occurrence of bare ground, also has the potential to cause and exacerbate soil erosion, and can facilitate the invasion of grassy patches by shrubs and exotic species, including weeds.

There is no necessity for further research on the impacts of livestock on alpine ecosystems. This present "research" is a political decision and shows that our State government has little experience in environmental matters, and not being able to say "no" to rural voters

Victorian National Parks Association

Alpine National Park - or cow paddock?

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Not only "cow paddocks" but national parks may be opened up to developers!
This is especially to encourage tourists from India and China, who expect to enjoy our Victorian National parks in style!

The state government's efficiency watchdog has bluntly warned that tourism across Victoria will stagnate unless current ''slow and cumbersome'' laws preventing private development in national parks are dumped. The "slow and cumbersome" laws are meant, by default, to protect our natural assets from such developments! They are not commercial assets but land for conservation, ecological values, flora and fauna, and those wanting to enjoy the bush.

Parks may open to developers The Age

Apparently "restrictions" were holding back investment and limiting the state's ability to attract international visitors. These "restrictions" are to protect our environmental assets from such developments. International visitors need to learn to tread respectfully and softly on fragile environments. They are sacred places and we are the hosts. Visitors need to obey our laws and respect our territories.

We already have native waterbirds being shot at for recreation, cattle in our Alpine areas causing environmental trashing, thousands of native animals "controlled" each year, and now possible commercialization of Victoria's National parks.

We are seeing tacky high rise developments in our cities to cater for foreign students, and our universities have already been outsourced as businesses resources for Indian and Chinese students - and a short-cut for PR - and now to add insult to injury, our iconic and prized national parks are to be modified to cater for tourist comfort.

According to our Federal government:
The National Reserve System is Australia's network of protected areas, conserving examples of our natural landscapes and native plants and animals for future generations. Based on a scientific framework, it is the nation's natural safety net against our biggest environmental challenges.

The reserve system includes more than 9,300 protected areas covering nearly 13 per cent of the country. It is made up Commonwealth, state and territory reserves, Indigenous lands and protected areas run by non-profit conservation organisations, through to ecosystems protected by farmers on their private working properties.

How do developments such as hotels and stadiums help fulfill these aims?

When do the owners, the people of Victoria, get a say in how things are run? It would defile the very for the existence of national parks. The big problem is that Victoria has the biggest proportion of privately owned land in Australia! We are being sold off!

Just about any development in a national park is over development. In fact the more accessible you make any place to humans the less interesting it becomes. Wilson's Promontory in Victoria. Australia when I was a child used to have minimum facilities and deliberately so in order to limit the number of people visiting at any particular time. The place was for the wild life and a few people at a time. What was enjoyable about going there was NOT seeing buildings and crowds of people. We have so little in the way of national parks surely tourists who are after hotels and restaurants can go elsewhere. leave the national parks to the wildlife and the tourists who are self sufficient and resourceful enough not to these comforts laid on. Let the other tourists do a day trip with a a packet of sandwiches and experience something which may actually be new to them. They can then lay their heads on 5 star pillows in a nearby town or city.

Public meeting: cattle don't belong in parks

Also, see Victorian National Parks Association web-site for details of public meeting

Due to unforeseen circumstances the date and venue for the public meeting ‘Cattle don’t belong in national parks’ has changed.

The meeting will now take place at the Box Hill Town Hall on Wednesday, 6 April 2011.
(Please arrive 6.30pm for a 7pm start.)

The meeting is being held to discuss the Victorian Government's decision to allow cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park.

Speakers will include environment groups, politicians and others.

Please forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested in attending this important community event.

"I wanted to let you know that today I have made the decision to give the Victorian Government 15 business days – until April 8 – to refer its current grazing actions for Federal assessment or I will force a referral. That’s the shortest time frame I can give under Federal environmental law."

"That means that by April 8 the cattle must be out of the Alpine National Park."

"It will also ensure that the Victorian Government’s actions will be subject to full scrutiny as part of a proper Federal environmental assessment process."

"The level of information provided so far by the Victorian Government is clearly inadequate."

"And as I continue to make absolutely clear, there is no place for cattle in a National Park."

A copy of my announcement will be available shortly on my website