Cattle can destroy a landscape. The Victorian Premier last week banned grazing in the Alpine National Park on the basis that:
* trample streambanks, springs and soaks
* damage and destroy fragile alpine mossbeds
* create bare ground, disturb soil and cause erosion
* pollute water
* are a significant threat to a number of rare and threatened plants and animals and plant communities
* reduce what should be spectacular wildflower displays
* spread weeds
* cover the landscape in cowpats and spoil the enjoyment of the area for visitors.
Incredibly the areas that have sustained this ‘degradation’ associated with grazing for about 170 years, are so ecologically important, that the Victorian Government will now seek World Heritage listing.
A key government report acknowledges that “Seasonal high country grazing is a long and ongoing tradition both within the park and in areas of the high country outside the park.”
The report suggests that this cultural heritage can be maintained and celebrated into the future in a variety of ways including “through books, poetry, films and festivals.”
Imagine the outcry if the Victorian Government proposed to “maintained and celebrated” mossbeds through books and festivals.
Some Background and a Question:
I was interested to learn that grazing in the High Country has been increasingly regulated since the 1940s including a ban on sheep and horses and burning-off, restrictions on the length of the grazing season, maximum stocking levels set, and grazing progressively removed from several areas including the highest peaks.
According to the same Victorian Government Fact Sheet, 47 percent of the Alpine National Park has been licensed for grazing.
But according to member for the Central Highlands, Hon. E.G. Stoney, speaking in the Victorian Parliament last Wednesday, “The announcement of the total removal of the cattle from the park breaks a legislated promise to have seven-year renewable licences. The promise was made by the Cain government in order that agreement could be reached to create the massive Alpine National Park, and that happened in 1989. Part of the agreement was that cattle were to be taken off the higher exposed peaks on the north Bogongs and the Bluff. The cattlemen sacrificed vast tracts of grazing land, with 10 families losing everything, which meant 90 per cent of the new park was closed to grazing back then. The Bracks government has broken the agreement; it has now taken the remaining 10 per cent of the land for cheap political gain.”
So up until now has grazing been allowed in 47 percent or 10 percent of the Alpine National Park?