Checkout our latest monthly ‘E-Blast’. Have a read and feel free to pass it on to friends and colleagues and then check out the complete set of back issues of both monthly ‘E-Blasts’ and ‘News from the Alps’ newsletters .
New App for snow-gum dieback citizen science surveys
Phorocantha sp. beetle – J. Ward-Jones
Beetle Larvae damage. – J.Ward-Jones
Beetle damage – Dainers Gap. – J.Ward-Jones
There are many dead trees to be seen in the Australian Alps, much of which are a result of the widespread 2003 bushfires. There are also many snow gums in the subalpine zone dead as a result of being eaten alive by a native woodboring beetle (called Longhorns/Longicorns, genus Phoracantha). You can tell their cause of death apart because the beetle damaged trees have many distinct horizontal scars across their stems, these are feeding galleries made by the beetle larvae. Snow gums are being ringbarked across a widespread area of the Australian Alps at an alarmingly intense rate. This is the event we’re referring to as snow-gum dieback.
Jess Ward-Jones is a PhD student at the Australian National University, part of a group researching snow-gum dieback. She is focusing on landscape scale drivers of the event. To do this she’s aiming to collect records of snow gums both healthy and dieback affected across the whole of their range. She has developed a simple phone-based survey (see link below) that anyone can use to collect records of snow gums and their health. This data will be used to analyse the relationship between their landscape position and likelihood of being dieback affected. This data will be collected using GPS location services from your smartphone and will aid in depicting the presence/absence of longicorn beetle dieback and landscape location.
As Jess says, “I’m not requesting systematic surveys but rather observations made when they are convenient for you. They should only take a couple of minutes each time”. The only spatial guidelines recommended are that records are made around 1km apart within snow gum stands, however more records at smaller intervals are also welcome.
Jess is requesting you download the App and “the next time you are out amongst the snow gums and have a spare few minutes, please use my app-based survey to collect some really valuable observations of snow gums for me. The more observations I have the better the analysis will be!”
This work along with other research will hopefully lead to positive management outcomes for these iconic trees. So download this citizen science project and the next time you are out and about in the Australian Alps, start recording. The snow gums need all the help they can get.
This document Spotting snow-gum dieback Guide for recording incidental
observations should take 10-15 minutes to read. It describes dieback symptoms and has some example pictures, helps ID snow-gums, and steps through how to use the app and complete the survey. If you’re interested to know more, check out saveoursnowgum.org, or feel free to email Jess at Jessica.Ward-Jones@anu.edu.au.
Beetle damage leading to dieback. Perisher – J.Ward-Jones
Snow gum dieback. – J.Ward-Jones
Brindabellas Snow gum Dieback – J.Ward-Jones
Australian Alps Walking Track Ranger Relay – November/December, 2021 (This Event has been postponed until 2022 due to Covid-19 Pandemic restrictions on cross-border travel and participation)
Staff from the Australian Alps National Parks partner agencies and other park management agencies across Australia will be joining forces to raise funds for the Thin Green Line Foundation and rangers in need across the globe.
Teams of staff will be volunteering their time and leg muscles to walk one of 17 x three day legs of the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) which stretches across the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves for 650kms. A team will commence from Walhalla, Victoria at the the start of the AAWT, on 1st November handing on a ‘message stick’ in a relay style walking event with the last team planned to finish at Namadgi NP Visitors Centre on 11th December to coincide with International Mountains Day.
All funds raised will go to the the Thin Green Line Foundation that was established in 2004 with the purpose to Protects Nature’s Protectors working predominantly in developing nations and conflict zones, and with Indigenous Park Rangers within Australia and abroad, by providing vital support to Park Rangers and their communities who are less well off and are the front-line of conservation, .
If you would like to get involved by volunteering to walk a section, or by sponsoring or donating towards this event please get in touch and register your interest with the event organising committee reps:
ACT Parks and Conservation Service: Nick Thorne – email@example.com
NSW NPWS: Sarah Ferguson – firstname.lastname@example.org
Parks Victoria: Tegan Dalman – email@example.com
Australian Alps National Parks Co-operative Management Program Call for Projects 2021 – 2022
The co-operative management program for the Australian Alps national parks seeks to achieve excellence in management and sustainable use in the conservation reserves that span the Australian Alps region through a strong program of cross-border co-operation. The primary way the Alps Program achieves this goal is through the delivery of targeted Alps-wide projects which address priorities set in the three-year Strategic Plan. The Australian Alps Liaison Committee is now calling for project proposal submissions from staff, researchers and relevant stakeholders for the 2021-22 Works Program. Projects can seek funding from between $500 – $50,000 annually and may be up to 3 years in duration.
Closing date for submission of proposals is Monday 03 May 2021
Applicants should note the priorities in the Australian Alps Co-operative Management Program Strategic Plan 2019-22 and how there proposal addresses and meets the core values, priorities and outcomes outlined within the Strategic Plan. For further information on assessment criteria, how to submit a project proposal and applications forms, refer to the:
News from the Alps – The Great Recovery – Edition #67 February, 2021
Check out the latest edition of ‘News from the Alps #67’ . In this edition we hear stories and news from staff, volunteers and researchers from across the Alps as to what has been achieved in the early stages of post bushfire recovery and the work that is ongoing in repairing damaged infrastructure and the essential work in protecting and helping our native plants animals and ecosystems to recover.
Have a read and feel free to pass it on to friends and colleagues and then check out the complete set of back issues here. Enjoy!
Snowgum Die-back in the Australian Alps’ – Webinar Presentation
‘Snowgum Die-back in the Australian Alps’ presented by Dr Matthew Brookhouse from the Australian National University it is now available on YouTube for viewing. Dr Brookhouse outlines the current state of knowledge on snow-gum dieback and also discusses current research activities aimed at understanding both the history and current trajectory of snow-gum dieback. Importantly, Matt also outlines the opportunities for citizen science and how you can contribute your field observations of dieback across the Australian Alps to help understanding dieback at a landscape level.
You can also assist in this important citizen science project by reporting field observations of the occurrence of dieback or sightings of longicorn beetles from across the Australian Alps. Help add to knowledge on longicorn wood-borers associated with Snow Gum forest dieback. Simply photograph the insect and upload it using the QR code along with the location and date of your observation. Or visit the website https://www.saveoursnowgum.org/ to report both the occurrence of dieback and Longicorn Beetle sightings.
Sambar deer prove a challenge to capture and fit tracking collars
Parks Victoria, together with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA), with funding from the Australian Alps national parks (AANP) program and additional contributions from Parks Victoria and the national and Victorian branches of the SSAA, implemented a project that aimed to fit satellite tracking collars to sambar deer to learn more about their home range and movement patterns in the alpine/subalpine areas to improve and better target future deer control programs.
Given sambar deer had not been captured and collared in the wild in Australia before, the capturing strategy implemented was flexible and the methods used adapted to prevailing environments. Two methods were used – the primary method involved overhead nets and the secondary method, free darting using a dart projector.
Webinar: Bogs and Fens of Namadgi National Park and the Australian Alps
This is a great webinar series hosted recently by ACT Parks and Conservation Service on the Alpine and Sub-alpine Bogs and Fens both in the ACT – Namadgi National Park, and NSW – Kosciuszko National Park. Learn more about their values in an international, national and local context , history of research and the bushfire recovery efforts both after 2003 and now 2020 including assessment, monitoring, fauna recovery etc. You can access recordings from the webinar here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/bogsandfenswebinar
and use password: bogsandfens
New Book Release: Kosciuszko – A Great National Park
by Deidre Slattery and Graeme L Worboys, 2020
This book tells the story of one of Australia’s natural wonders, Kosciuszko National Park. A National Heritage–listed treasure, the park is the home of the mainland’s highest mountains, past glaciation sites, limestone caves, fields of summer wildflowers and alpine animals and plants found nowhere else on Earth. It is the headwater catchments of the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Snowy Rivers. It is much loved by more than 2 million visitors annually who enjoy its natural and cultural history, its snowfields, walking, riding and sightseeing.
Kosciuszko: A Great National Park traces the aspirations of adventurers, settlers, scientists, graziers, miners, timber cutters, dam constructors, conservation groups, recreationists and tourism operators. While some visions were utilitarian and exploitative, others recognised the mountains’ exceptional aesthetic, natural and cultural values. Although the mountains’ value for resource extraction became entrenched, concern over accelerating ecological decline and desire for protection as a land use also increased. Grazing overuse in drought and the severe erosion of the high mountain catchments triggered a disaster and a turning point: political intervention and land use change. Kosciusko State Park was established in 1944.
The struggle to manage these outstanding lands and their precious water catchments, to promote their natural value and to protect the park from hungry eyes is a grand story. It is a story of how our society transformed its view of its most important water catchment from use for wealth creation to conservation. This change has been hard won and owes its success to scientists and those who listened to them. Their work to establish better understanding of unique Australian mountain soils, vegetation and catchments is little known or understood.
The evolution of a professional park service helped shape protected area land use in Australia. This book celebrates 75 years of park management at Kosciuszko; it recognises many individuals who made a difference to its conservation and reflects on opportunities for improved management for the future. This peer-reviewed 450-page, full colour, illustrated book with a detailed chronology benefited from five years of research and development and inputs from multiple interviewees.
It is a must-read for lovers of the mountains and nature and the millions who depend on the water generated in these mountain catchments.
The book is available from Envirobook: http://www.envirobook.com.au
The Alec Costin Collection – ‘A truly precious resource’
The Australian Alps National Parks Co-operative Management Program has recently funded a project to archive the life and work of Alec Costin. As a scientist, activist and government advisor, Dr Alec Costin was instrumental in the conservation of the Australian Alps over the course of eight decades from 1946 through to the 21st century.
“The Alec Costin Collection comprises a broad set of records created and/or compiled by Alec Costin during the course of his life and work. The records span from 1770 to 2019 and include papers, reports, correspondence, publications, manuscripts, photographs, slides, data sheets, diagrams and graphs The collection constitutes an important resource for scientists and other researchers from a wide variety of disciplines, offering a unique insight into the study of ecology – and the history of conservation – in Australia, particularly as it relates to the changing vegetation and landscapes of the Australian Alps. This large and diverse collection, compiled by Costin himself, was systematically organised, stored, preserved and catalogued by the eScholarship Research Centre at The University of Melbourne.”
The Alec Costin Collection guide was produced as part of the project to archive the legacy of Alec Costin, an internationally respected Australian alpine ecologist. This guide provides a useful tool for such investigations by allowing researchers to easily identify and find the contents of records held in the collection.
2019 Australian Alps feral horse aerial survey results are released
In autumn 2019, the Australian Alps National Parks Co-operative Management Program working with Parks Victoria, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and ACT Parks and Conservation Service undertook a feral horse aerial survey in the Australian Alps. The 2019 survey followed the 2014 model, by employing the same operational and statistical methodology. This allowed for the estimation of both the current population and the change in horse numbers in the surveyed areas over the past five years.
Results from both the 2014 and 2019 Australian Alps Feral Horse Aerial Survey indicate that the overall Australian Alps feral horse population is large, widespread and continues to increase in size. The estimated overall feral horse population within the combined surveyed areas has more than doubled over the 5 years between the 2014 and 2019 surveys.
Combining estimates for each of the three blocks surveyed, the population across the surveyed Australian Alps area increased from an estimated 9,190 in 2014 to 25,318 in 2019. This is an increase of 23% per annum.
Such rates of population growth and increase are consistent with international research, survey and monitoring of feral horse populations across the world.
The methods used for the Australian Alps feral horse aerial survey are widely used by expert wildlife biologists and land managers around the world to estimate the density and size of wild populations of animals. They are widely accepted as providing robust and credible results. Studies using these methods have been published widely in peer-reviewed international scientific literature.
The survey design, methodology and analysis for the Australian Alps Feral Horse Survey 2019 has been independently peer reviewed by external experts from St Andrews University, Scotland who are international experts in the application of Distance sampling survey techniques and CSIRO Australia to verify that the survey, analysis and reported results are scientifically rigorous and robust.
The Alps Program has previously co-ordinated horse aerial surveys in 2001, 2003, 2009 and 2014, so this was the latest in a long running monitoring program that has provided valuable information to land managers, scientists and other stakeholders.
The results of this large-scale aerial survey give the most comprehensive picture to date of feral horse numbers, range and population trends across the Australian Alps. It is vital information that will contribute to future scientific research and inform evidence based adaptive management by Parks’ agencies.
A summary report and ‘Answers to Frequently Asked Questions’ about the aerial survey along with the full technical report on the aerial survey, its analysis and results can be found on the Australian Alps National Parks website.
News from the Alps – Spring Edition
Hello everyone and welcome to another great issue of News from the Alps . As always its full of Alps related goings-on and interviews: from moon landings to horse monitoring; taming water to strategic planning; and a feature on managing the Alps landscapes ‘then and now’.
This issue marks the Dr Who-like handover – from old to new – of the managers who co-ordinate delivery of the Alps program. You can also find the answers for the crossword from issue #64 if it has been driving you crazy trying to solve it.
Have a read and feel free to pass it on to friends and colleagues. Then check out the complete set of back issues here. Enjoy!
2019 Aerial Horse Survey
In Autumn 2019, the Australian Alps Co-operative Management Program will be working with Parks Victoria and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to conduct an aerial wild horse survey in the Australian Alps. The purpose of this survey is to produce an estimate of horse populations in the surveyed areas and the change in numbers since the last survey in 2014. The Alps Program has previously coordinated surveys in 2001, 2003, 2009 and 2014, so this will be the latest in a long running monitoring program that has provided valuable information to land managers, scientists and other stakeholders.
For more information or questions: Project Overview and FAQ
Introduced Deer Field Identification Guide for the Australian Alps
Feral deer are now very common and increasing in abundance across the Australian Alps. Introduced Deer Field Identification Guide for the Australian Alps was produced by Dr Andrew Claridge in 2016 with support from the Australian Alps Program. It is divided into 3 section: a profile of 5 species of deer; a focus on their ecological impact; and the final section shows how to read deer sign in the wild. It’s a great companion for anyone with an interest in feral deer.
Hot off the press! SEED GERMINATION OF SUB-ALPINE BOG AND FEN PLANTS
Alpine Sphagnum bogs and associated fens occur in alpine and subalpine parts of Australia and are federally listed as endangered ecological communities. These peatlands provide many benefits such as water filtration at catchment sources. They also provide breeding habitat for endangered species such as Corroboree frogs. Peatlands are small, fragmented and can be damaged easily. Increasing fire frequency has been of particular concern for land managers. The methods used to successfully restore peatlands after fire rely on unknown stocks of plant material surviving in the peat after fire. When our research began it was unclear whether soil seed banks formed in these communities, or how they might affect regeneration of the plant community.
In this report Guja and Brindley have investigated 13 bog and fen plant species to find out whether their seeds can form soil seed banks, and how their germination might be affected by burial. They found that the seeds of most of these species were still viable after burial for multiple growing seasons and could germinate under particular conditions detailed on the next page. Land Managers can use these findings to inform restoration practices for key plant species in degraded alpine peatlands.
Seed persistence in soil – seed bank of sub-Alpine Bogs and Fens – Full report June 2017
SEED GERMINATION OF SUB-ALPINE BOG AND FEN PLANTS – Fact Sheet June 2017
Happy Birthday everyone. It’s truly wonderful to see that the Australian Alps nation parks Co-operative Management Program is now marking its 30th year. To celebrate, we’ve crammed this issue of News from the Alps with stories from every perspective. Discover just how politically challenging it was in 1986 to get a cross border co-operative management agreement over the line. Skip down memory lane with a few past Program Managers and be inspired by the story of the Australian Alps Walking Track. There’s lots to see and enjoy in this souvenir edition, and it all celebrates a visionary decision made three decades ago.
Australian Alps Climate Futures – Summary Report
The recent Australian Alps Climate Futures Forum was run as part of the Science Management Series under the auspices of the Australian Alps national parks Co-operative Management Program. The science management forums are supported and partnered with the IUCN/WCPA through the Mountains Specialist Group which has a focus on conservation, management and protection of mountain protected areas globally. Over 60 people attended from a wide range of backgrounds including protected area managers, researchers, agency experts and alpine ecologists. Download the Climate Futures report 2016 here. Updated Aug 2016
New Publication – Protected Area Governance and Management
Protected Area Governance and Management presents a compendium of original text, case studies and examples from across the world, by drawing on the literature, and on the knowledge and experience of those involved in protected areas. The book synthesises current knowledge and cutting-edge thinking from the diverse branches of practice and learning relevant to protected area governance and management. This book is proving very popular with over 22600 free downloads so far.
Editors: Graeme L. Worboys, Michael Lockwood, Ashish Kothari, Sue Feary and Ian Pulsford. Download free PDF or purchase harcopy here
Snowy Scheme site rehabilitation report
Ten years of restoration work at 200 sites within Kosciuszko National Park – sites damaged during the construction of Australia’s most iconic hydroelectric scheme – is showing substantial progress and is contributing to the protection of the parks internationally significant ecosystems.
Read the report
NEW – Australian Alps book (Second edition)
This new updated version of the original book published in 1998 is a must for students, agency staff, alpine history buffs, adventurers, naturalists and anyone one who has a love and passion for the Australian Alps. A fascinating guide to Kosciuszko, Alpine and Namadgi National Parks, it introduces the reader to Australia’s highest mountains, their climate, geology and soils, plants and animals and their human history.