Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

ENVIRONMENT GROUP REJECTS BLOOD MONEY FOR AUSTRALIA’S ALPINE AREAS

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness today called on the NSW, Victoria and the ACT governments to reject a $15 million dollar plan by the Federal Government to make a World Heritage listing nomination of the Alpine National Parks contingent upon the creation of a cattle grazing and horseriding theme park. The Foundation called the plan a thinly veiled bribe to the Victorian government to retract its ban on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park and throw cash at all three governments to push new horseriding trails through 1.6 million hectares of alpine parks in NSW, Victoria and ACT. A World Heritage expert has also damned the Plan saying that it will place the area’s World Heritage values at risk.

“Senator Campbell is using money to try to override the Victorian Government’s recent pro-conservation ban on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park. While some of the money, targeted for restoration and weed control, is welcome this should not be tied to further high impact grazing and an expansion of horseriding in these delicate alpine areas,” said Fiona McCrossin, Assistant Director, Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“On the one hand the Federal Government is holding this big carrot saying we will help you with your weeds and feral animals. On the other hand they want to open 1.6 million hectares of national parks to activities that are ecologically damaging and obsolete. Alpine grazing has not been allowed in NSW since 1972 and Senator Campbell knows it will damage the high country. That is why this plan is going to spend $3.5 million dollars on fences to keep the cattle out of bogs and fens, which would also block the movement of wildlife within the national park,” continued Ms McCrossin.

“What is really strange about this Federal Government intervention is that just two months ago, Senator Campbell rejected National Heritage listing of Kosciuszko on the basis of a “Man from Snowy River” theme and emphasised the importance of the Park’s natural, aesthetic and aboriginal values. Now he’s saying the opposite. What’s going on?” said Ms McCrossin.

A World Heritage Working Group based at the Colong Foundation has been working on a nomination that prioritises the integrity of the region’s natural values, particularly the suite of eucalypt communities that stretch from the coast to the snow.

“Cattle grazing poses a great thereat to the integrity of the area's natural values and would most likely disqualify the area from world heritage listing as the integrity conditions of the Convention are very stringent”, said Dr Geoff Mosley AM, a member of the working group and one of Australia’s leading world heritage experts.

“This is a thinly veiled attempt of the Federal Government to use its powers under Commonwealth legislation to restore cattle grazing licences on the basis of an alleged threat to cultural world heritage values. This will be seen as an abuse of the World Heritage Convention and seriously damage Australia's international credibility in this field.” Dr Mosley concluded.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)