Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Endangered Species Sold Short on Cloud Seeding Too many risks and no public process Colong Foundation for Wilderness National Parks Association of NSW

The crisis over the Carr Government's handling of a cloud seeding proposal in Kosciuszko National Park deepened today with revelations that endangered species could be placed at risk, despite claims by the NSW Minister for Agriculture that it would not negatively affect the environment.

"A confidential briefing note by Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) regarding the proposed cloud seeding experiment in the Snowy Mountains confirms that endangered species could be placed at risk from rain washing away snow cover in lower alpine areas," said Andrew Cox, Executive Officer, National Parks Association of NSW.

"This new information from DEC confirms our worst fears about cloud seeding. Snow dependent animals like the nationally endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum could freeze to death when rain produced by cloud seeding washes away the insulating winter blanket of snow. Without the snow cover the poor possum will be exposed to freezing temperatures," said Mr Cox.

The department briefing states, "It is unlikely that increased falls will favour snow dependent species because the major pressure on such species is at lower, marginal, snow areas. Precipitation at the lower altitudes may possibly fall as rain thereby potentially reducing rather than enhancing any natural snow cover."

"The departmental advice also reports the views of the American Meteorological Society that down wind precipitation changes can occur with cloud seeding, confirming the fears of local farmers about potential loss of rainfall," said Fiona McCrossin, Assistant Director, Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

"Playing around with climate risks environmental harm and DEC warns that the mitigation of climate change due to this proposed cloud seeding experiment is doubtful."

"The DEC advice contradicts a statement on 25 February by NSW Minister for Agriculture, Ian Macdonald, that states, 'Cloud seeding could help off-set an environmental tragedy in the making, without negatively affecting the environment.'"

A more certain strategy exists to help the survival of snow dependent species, like the endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum. DEC's website states the main threat to the Possum in NSW is 'loss and fragmentation of habitat, mostly associated with the ski resort industry', ie. activities like winter snow grooming, road and building construction. "We must reduce the impacts of the ski resorts by stopping any further expansion and reducing the ecological footprint of each resort," said Ms McCrossin.

The Carr Government now has one course of action: Stop the dubious and potentially harmful cloud seeding experiment and get serious about protecting Kosciuszko's unique natural values. Ski report operators, irrigators and electricity providers are not the first priority.

For more information contact: Fiona McCrossin  ph 9261 2400 (w);  9568 1309 (h)

Ask for 5 page Kosciuszko Cloud Seeding Briefing Paper