The reporting period of 2000/2001 was one of ongoing achievement for the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC) in attaining excellence in protected area management. This was achieved through a continuing strong program of cross border liaison and cooperation amongst the managing agencies involved. The results of this cooperation have greatly enhanced the management and understanding of the Australian Alps national parks on a regional basis.
The success of the Community Awareness program for the Australian Alps has been highlighted this year through an award received for excellence in General Tourism Services as part of the Canberra Regional Tourism Industry Awards 2001. The award acknowledges the effectiveness of the key components of the program including: the development and distribution of Alps products; The Travelling Alps displays; the icon brochure; the world-wide web page; Community Service Announcements; “Frontline” of the Alps workshops and the distribution and marketing of products through a strategic partnership with Canprint.
During the reporting period the Cultural Heritage Working Group developed and successfully delivered another, Communicating Across Cultures, indigenous issues awareness workshop. The workshop provided field based staff and managers working in the Australian Alps with an awareness into, and greater understanding of, the issues faced by contemporary Aboriginal people.
A key initiative was the development of a Conservation and Presentation Strategy on the Mining Heritage of the Australian Alps. Stage one of the report has been completed laying the groundwork for the analysis of the historic sites and landscapes within the Australian Alps national parks. The final report will provide a framework for the management of the mining heritage of the Australian Alps and identifies those historic mining places that should be developed for visitor use.
Natural Heritage Conservation management was further enhanced this reporting period with the production of an integrated, interactive electronic database using the information collected from earlier work on the “Natural Treasures of the Australian Alps”. The database, developed by Peter Coyne of Environment Australia, has been designed to help provide field practitioners and decision makers with easy access to information on the status of the significant natural features of the Australian Alps and their immediate threats.
Visitor facilities and services continued to be targeted with the AALC hosting a highly successful 5-day international workshop that examined the issue of Mountain Walking Track Management. Through a comprehensive program of plenary and concurrent sessions, site visits and industry exhibitions, delegates explored contemporary approaches to walking track construction and maintenance.
The role and activities of the AALC in introducing innovation, providing a forum for staff networking and co-ordination continues to be highly valued by staff managing the Australian Alps national parks. The response of staff has been to give their time in addition to their normal duties and become closely involved with the Australian Alps program.
This year will mark a “changing of the guard” in the Australian Alps Co-operative Management Program. As part of a new initiative to rotate the convenorship around the agencies I will be stepping down from the position of Convenor of the AALC. The Program Coordinators position will also be changing hands with the completion of a 3 year secondment by Brett McNamara from Environment ACT‘s Parks and Conservation Service.
I would like to record my sincere thanks to the members of the working groups and to the AALC for their collective efforts in achieving excellence in cross border protected area management. I would also like to acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by Brett McNamara as the outgoing Program Coordinator.
The cooperative management strategies and implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding have been recognised internationally as world’s best practice. I believe this report reflects the success and relevance of the Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program to land managers, stakeholders and to the wider community.
I look forward to working with the new Convenor and continuing my involvement with the highly successful cooperative management program as the Environment Australia representative on the AALC.
Convenor, Australian Alps Liaison Committee
The Australian Alps stretch from Canberra through the Brindabella Range in the ACT, the Snowy Mountains of NSW and along the Great Dividing Range through Victoria. This alpine and subalpine environment is a unique part of Australia, a mountainous biogeographical region in a predominantly dry and flat continent.
The national parks and reserves in the Australian Alps cross state and territory borders and comprise over 1.6 million hectares of protected areas. Nine conservation reserves are collectively referred to as the Australian Alps national parks. The reserves are managed as part of the Alps program and include, Kosciuszko, Namadgi, Alpine, Mount Buffalo, Snowy River and Brindabella National Parks, Bimberi Nature Reserve, Scabby Range Nature Reserve and the Avon Wilderness. Through cooperation and joint management the national parks and reserves in the Australian Alps are managed as one biogeographical entity.
Other conservation areas and resorts with alpine and subalpine environments on the mainland and in Tasmania also benefit from regular contact and information developed through the cooperative management approach to the Australian Alps national parks. The AALC is keen to foster and enhance this relationship with relevant land management agencies.
As well as containing Australia’s highest peaks, the majority of its mainland hydro-electricity generating resources, and primary water supplies for Canberra and mountain towns, the Australian Alps national parks also protect Australia’s unique alpine flora and fauna and significant examples of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage sites and are a highly valued recreation resource for many Australians.
To assist conservation agencies to manage these valuable resources in a consistent and compatible manner, the Ministers responsible for the management of these protected areas, along with the Commonwealth, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in relation to the cooperative management of the Australian Alps in July 1986.
The MOU was revised and re-signed in response to self-government in the ACT and the addition of the Alpine National Park in Victoria. It was further amended and re-signed with the addition of Mount Buffalo National Park to the Australian Alps cooperative management program in 1998.
Responsibility for day-to-day management of the Australian Alps national parks remains vested with each agency party to the MOU. The majority of works undertaken within the Australian Alps national parks are undertaken by the managing agencies in line with agreed strategies and statutory management plans.
The vision for the Australian Alps cooperative management program is one of participating agencies working in partnership to achieve excellence in conservation management and sustainable use through a strong program of cross-border cooperation.
Through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) participating agencies cooperate in the management of the Australian Alps national parks:
- To promote the growth and enhance inter-governmental cooperative management to protect the nationally important values of the Australian Alps national parks, and
- To cooperate in the management of the Australian Alps national parks for the:
- Protection of the unique mountain landscape;
- Protection of the natural and cultural values specific to the Australian Alps;
- Provision of outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities to encourage the enjoyment and understanding of the alpine environment; and
- Protection of mountain catchments.
To achieve this mission, the parties to the MOU will continue to strive for excellence in their own corporate missions. Agencies will cooperate in establishing best practice management to protect the scenery, water catchments, and natural and cultural heritage of the Australian Alps, while providing the opportunities for the public appreciation, sustainable use and enjoyment of our parks.
The working arrangements, agreed to under the MOU, require agencies to:
- Consult in the preparation and amendment of management plans to ensure complementary policies and management practices throughout the Australian Alps national parks;
- Consult on resource data collection and, where possible, cooperate in joint actions and other operations relevant to the coordinated protection of the values of the Australian Alps national parks;
- Exchange information, ideas and expertise relevant to the protection of the nationally important values of the Australian Alps national parks, and cooperate in the training of staff to manage the Australian Alps national parks;
- Cooperate in the enhancement and monitoring of public awareness programs about the Australian Alps national parks;
- Cooperate to provide opportunities for public participation in the management of the Australian Alps national parks; and
- Strive to adopt complementary recreation management policies and, where appropriate, provide recreation facilities and services to enable visitors to effectively use adjacent areas.
Areas covered by the MOU include:
|Alpine National Park||647 700|
|Snowy River National Park||98 100|
|Avon Wilderness Park||39 650|
|Mount Buffalo National Park||31 000|
|New South Wales||Size (ha)|
|Kosciuszko National Park||690 407|
|Brindabella National Park||18 173|
|Scabby Range Nature Reserve||4 873|
|Bimberi Nature Reserve||10 796|
|Australian Capital Territory||Size (ha)|
|Namadgi National Park||105 900|
Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC) is established with a senior manager from each of the signatory land management agencies and the Commonwealth Government. The function of the AALC is to coordinate the development and implementation of a cooperative works program and to implement the MOU within the context of each agency’s own policies.
A number of working groups are established to advise the AALC on specific matters, and to assist with the implementation of the cooperative management program. Under the AALC guidelines, working groups may be disbanded once their objectives have been achieved. The structure for the reporting period is presented in Attachment 1.
To assist in achieving the objectives of the MOU, a financial contribution is made by each of the participating agencies. The responsibility for financial management is vested with the agency providing the Alps Program Coordinator position. During the reporting period, the Environment ACT’s Parks & Conservation Service provided the financial management support for the Alps program.
A total annual budget of $400,000 was provided from the agencies with Victoria, New South Wales and the Commonwealth Governments contributing $120,000 each and the Australian Capital Territory $40,000.
Allocation of funding to the Australian Alps cooperative works program is made by the AALC. Development of the annual cooperative works program is achieved through the submission of project proposals, which must be within the goals of the Australian Alps strategic plan.
Working groups consider the merits of the projects submitted and make recommendations to the AALC for funding. Project management is undertaken by officers who represent their agency on the various working groups or by identified project officers who oversee and manage the projects. The 2000 / 2001 annual works program budget is presented in Attachment 2.
The Memorandum of Understanding makes provision for the Australian Alps Liaison Committee to be established to coordinate cooperation between agencies involved in the management of the Australian Alps national parks.
Membership of the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC) is defined in the MOU to be a senior officer of each of the relevant land management agencies in ACT, NSW and Victoria together with a senior officer from the relevant Commonwealth government department dealing with conservation reserves.
The AALC members are generally managers with direct responsibility for implementing the projects and outcomes of the cooperative management program within the Australian Alps national parks. These senior officers are able to ensure the involvement of field staff in the various programs, training and projects that make up the Australian Alps cooperative management program.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the Australian Alps Liaison Committee will ensure that:
- A three-year strategic plan is submitted to the Ministers through heads of agencies for approval, and will be accompanied by a review of the implementation of the previous strategic plan;
- A cooperative work program is developed consistent with the strategic plan for each financial year;
- A regular review of progress towards implementing the program is undertaken during the financial year to which it relates;
- An annual report is submitted to the Ministers, through heads of agencies at the end of each financial year;
- Within the capacity of individual agency budgets, agencies will contribute funds to be managed by the Liaison Committee for the approved works program under the Memorandum of Understanding. The Liaison Committee may enter into cost-sharing arrangements with one or more state/territory agencies for projects within the works program; and
- In managing projects under the approved works program, parties agree that a nominated agency may oversee the implementation of a particular project and act on behalf of other agencies in the execution of legal contracts and similar arrangements.
The Liaison Committee may invite managers of other alpine and sub-alpine parks, conservation reserves or relevant bodies to participate in specific cooperative programs where benefits from consistent management of alpine and sub-alpine environments are expected.
A number of working groups are established to guide and direct the implementation of the Alps annual cooperative works program in conjunction with the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.
Working group members operate as a team with staff from other land management agencies involved in managing the Australian Alps national parks. Working group tasks include developing new projects in the key result areas as outlined in the strategic plan, recommending priority projects for AALC funding, and managing projects through outsourcing or in-house means, on time and within budgets.
The criteria for membership of a working group is based on the technical skills and expertise that an individual officer can bring to the group to assist in achieving the objectives of the working group under the Australian Alps strategic plan.
The Australian Alps Liaison Committee seeks to achieve a balance in terms of practical field experience and specialist advice within the membership of the working groups. Working groups benefit from having more than one agency representative, allowing the workload and demands placed on the group to be evenly distributed amongst the membership. Membership of the working groups also encourages professional development and fosters a holistic approach to viewing and managing the Australian Alps national parks.
During the reporting period, four working groups operated under the Australian Alps cooperative management program. The terms of reference for each working group are set out under the strategic plan for the Cooperative Management of the Australian Alps. Working groups are closely aligned to specific key result areas of park management.
Refer to program structure, Attachment 1.
Media and Community Projects Officer
The work undertaken by the part-time media and community projects officer in promoting the Australian Alps national parks as one biogeographical region and increasing public awareness of the cooperative management program has been a key element of the successes enjoyed by the public awareness program during this reporting period. This success has culminated in a regional tourism award received in Canberra in July 2001.
The Media and Community Projects Officer is responsible for: the coordination of launches to promote Alps products and activities; media releases; managing the Australian Alps worldwide web page; responding to emails and, in collaboration with the working groups, developing extension material and managing projects that are at the community interface with the program. This year the projects have included: evaluation and revision of minimal impact messages; the development of an information kit for the Australian Alps walking track; updating the resource material for tour operator training; and the development of a major newspaper feature.
A major highlight of this year’s program was the launch of the revised edition of Kosciuszko Alpine Flora. The AALC, CSIRO and the CRC for Sustainable Tourism combined forces to revise the second edition of the book, launched at the Australian Botanic Gardens in December 2000. Several media releases resulted in stories in the major metropolitan newspapers drawing attention to this definitive guide and highlighting the need for international protection of the Australian Alps.
Publicity, particularly in regional media, of the programs and projects that enhance the management of the Australian Alps, has again proved to be highly effective during this reporting period. Thirty newspaper articles and radio interviews were aired through regional and national radio and newspapers. These were the direct result of extensive media releases, developed by the project officer, to mark major milestones in this year’s cooperative program.
The Best Practice Field Forum on Mountain Walking Tracks provided the opportunity to communicate to a wide audience the complex issues faced by land managers in dealing with walking track construction and maintenance. The forum, offering both national and international perspectives on track management, was particularly popular with regional radio throughout the Alps hinterland. It also attracted the attention of the Tasmanian media who interviewed Dr Bob Aitken from Edinburgh, Scotland, a track consultant and key speaker at the forum.
The “Sharing the Knowledge” travelling road show of scientists and researchers also raised the curiosity and interest of the regional media.
Within the context of the programs current strategic plan, a strategy meeting and awareness raising activities were undertaken to increase the profile of the United Nations declared International Year of the Mountains 2002. A communication network has grown to help develop activities and programs that will profile the importance of Australia’s mountains. The AALC has agreed to support the development of an IYM conference to be held at the end of 2002 to celebrate the mountains.
The Australian Alps community awareness program was this year recognised for its outstanding contribution to the tourism industry through an award received at the Canberra Region Tourism Awards 2001 ceremony in the category of “General Tourism Services”.
Odile Arman, Convenor of the Community Relations Working Group, prepared the award submission, highlighting the Community Awareness Program. The program encompasses the activities that have led to the promotion of the Australian Alps as a premier tourist destination as well as raising awareness of the Australian Alps cooperative management program.
The key components of the awareness program, that were central to the award submission were, the development and distribution of Australian Alps products (WildGuide Plants and Animals of the Australian Alps; Stories Among the Snowgums video; Australian Alps Touring Guide), the travelling Alps displays, production and distribution of an icon brochure, the Australian Alps world wide web-page, Community Service announcements, “Frontline of the Australian Alps workshop” for Visitor Centre staff across the region and the marketing strategy.
As a recipient of a regional award, the Australian Alps community awareness program goes forward with other regional and state winners for consideration by a national panel of judges in the Australian Tourism Awards. These awards showcase tourism excellence in Australia, with more than 28 categories covering all aspects of the tourism industry.
Reporting on the activities and successes of the cooperative management program is an essential task of the Liaison Committee to raise awareness and to communicate the benefits of the Memorandum of Understanding.
The 1999/2000 annual report provided a review of the Australian Alps Cooperative Management Program for that year, the organisational make-up of the Liaison Committee and the various working groups. The annual report contains the cooperative management works program for that year and reports on projects undertaken.
The report continues to serve as an important information source on the structure and basis of the Australian Alps cooperative management program for government agencies, members of the public, tertiary institutions and libraries. More than 400 copies were distributed nationally and internationally.
Travelling Alps promotional display
Four lightweight travelling promotional displays were developed and produced this reporting period to promote the Australian Alps national parks. Reflecting the unique beauty and diversity of the region, the displays fully complement the general Alps brochure and are similar in style. The highly attractive displays have been strategically located around the Alps for easy access and will be used at local shows, shopping centres, exhibitions and field days to promote the Australian Alps national parks.
Australian Alps newspaper insert
Much of the preliminary work has been undertaken, in the development of an insert for local and regional newspapers. Including: collecting prototypes, materials and ideas; developing advertising guidelines that complement and support the values of the Australian Alps cooperative management program; collating a list of potential advertisers; liaising with large regional press agencies and engaging a professional photographer to provide photographs on minimal impact behaviour and agency cooperation in the Alps.
Negotiation with Rural Press Ltd has concentrated on developing mutually agreeable arrangements with regard to sponsorship and advertising.
The insert will feature articles to promote the Australian Alps national parks and be supported by approved advertising. Additional copies will be distributed from Visitor Centres around the region. The release of the newspaper insert is scheduled for November 2001 in the lead up to International Year of the Mountains 2002.
World Wide Web
The Australian Alps national parks website, hosted by Environment Australia, is often the first point of contact for tourism inquiries to the Australian Alps national parks and for those seeking more information on the Alps cooperative management program. The website includes information about reference material on the Australian Alps, an Alps publications page, updated media releases and reports and links to 66 organisations and interest groups.
The Media and Community Projects Officer manages the site and responds to the emails. The interest in the site has steadily increased over the last three years.
Towards the end of 2000 the website was redesigned to make it more user-friendly. The website address was changed to a simpler and more intuitive address and the site was designed to optimise greater access to the widest range of users. Additional information was added including a sitemap, a print off publication order form, and inclusion of recent Alps newsletters, media releases and Alps products. To address the frequent requests for information about employment, school assignments and places to visit, additional “Frequently Asked Questions” pages were added.
Product Storage, Distribution and Sales management
A more coordinated and targeted approach to the distribution and marketing of resource publications and reports for the Australian Alps National Parks cooperative management program has been the focus of this reporting period. This has been achieved through the development of a new partnership with Canprint Communications to undertake storage, distribution, sales and marketing of all Alps products and publications.
Since entering into this partnership in August 2000 Canprint has produced and widely distributed an Alps publication schedule, provided a mail order service, and adopted a proactive marketing role for the Alps through the development and distribution of a promotional brochure highlighting the latest products: Explore the Alps; Australian Alps touring map; Stories Among the Snow Gums video; and WildGuide to the Plants and Animals of the Australian Alps.
This alliance has proven highly advantageous to the cooperative management program through the increase in sales and the dissemination of Alps information and products to a broader audience.
The service provided by Canprint has been strengthened through its call centre support staff’s attendance at a “Frontline of the Alps” familiarisation workshop. The workshop helped the staff increase their knowledge of the Australian Alps cooperative management program as well as becoming more familiar with recently produced Alps products and networking with potential customers from regional visitor centres. This knowledge has been vital to the outstanding service they have provided to Alps customers during the reporting period.
Marketing and Public Relations Plan
The Australian Alps Benchmark Awareness and Satisfaction Research report completed in 1999 highlighted the need to embark on a more sustained, planned and targeted approach to marketing and communication and was the precursor to the Marketing and Public Relations Plan developed in 2000/01.
The plan was developed by a consultant following a one-day workshop with key Alps staff taking into account the objectives and aims of the Alps MOU and the strategic plan 2000-2003. The workshop identified: the main issues to be addressed, the main messages to be communicated, the target audiences and drafted the marketing program and actions.
The key components of the plan are an audit of past and current projects, and the development of a 3-year marketing plan based on two target audiences – rural neighbours and park visitors. This document will provide the framework to guide the activities and projects of the Community Relations Working Group over the next 3 years.
Community Service Announcements
The Australian Alps Community Service Announcements (CSA) continued to receive extensive airtime during the reporting period. The announcements, developed 2 years ago, were designed to inform the public about the unique values of the Australian Alps and the role played by the Australian Alps national parks agencies in working together to manage and protect the region.
The 30 and 60 seconds CSAs, depicting spectacular images of the Alps, have been played by regional and national television stations, free of charge, during normal and peak time programming. During the reporting period the Win Television Network played an Alps CSA at least once every day most often in prime time between 6.30 & 11.30pm. Their popularity and longevity can be attributed to the universally appealing scenery and music, non-commercial nature and a high standard of production.
Kosciuszko Alpine Flora: second edition
The first edition of Kosciusko Alpine Flora, published by CSIRO in 1979, was met with wide praise from around the world as a benchmark publication. Twenty-one years on the book has been revised and republished in partnership with CSIRO, the AALC and CRC for Sustainable Tourism. The book describes and illustrates the area’s 200+ native species, 21 of them endemic; it discusses the geological and human history of the area; the life form and habitat classifications of the plants; and explores the various plant communities and their environmental relationships. It also contains identification keys, detailed descriptions, and distribution and habitat notes for each species. Superb colour photographs show details of flowers, fruit, foliage, and ecological relationships.
The four authors, Colin Totterdell, Dave Wimbush, Alec Costin and Max Gray, considered world experts on the plants and ecology of the Kosciuszko alpine region, began work on the revised edition in 1999. A gathering at the botanical gardens in Canberra in December 2000 marked the official launch of the completed revised Kosciuszko Alpine Flora.
The new book includes a comprehensive table, showing which species are to be found in the other alpine areas of NSW, as well as ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand. It has been published as a hard-back, while an affordable soft-cover ‘field edition’, which omits the detailed taxonomic section, has also been produced for the benefit of the growing tourist market to the Australian Alps.
Natural Treasures of the Australian Alps
The Australian Alps national parks are a treasure-trove of remarkable features, some of which occur nowhere else in the world. The region contains the only marsupial species that stores food; an insect that changes colour to reflect or absorb heat and, a remarkable cliff-bound lake created by the grinding action of a glacier. The catalogue is long and diverse, yet the significant natural values of the Australian Alps national parks are rarely fully recognised.
In December 1999 the Natural Heritage Working Group seconded DR Peter Coyne from Environment Australia to undertake a major strategic project “Protecting the Natural Treasures of the Australian Alps”. The project was to identify and document the status of the significant natural features of the Australian Alps and the threats to them, and to prioritise the features and threats in terms of allocating future resources for research and management. Ranking of priorities was undertaken by a workshop of agency and university experts and others with relevant expertise.
The project report, completed in June 2000, identifies more than one thousand significant natural features of the Australian Alps and the threats to their continued survival. The recommendations are designed to improve the long-term security of national and international assets by encouraging the collection of detailed scientific information and by striving for best practice management approaches to be implemented across the Australian Alps bioregion.
The report recommends that greater emphasis be given to managing the Australian Alps national parks as a single ecological entity rather than as discrete functional units, and recommends strategies by which this can be achieved.
This year the Australian Alps Liaison Committee provided additional funding to enable the development of an integrated, interactive electronic database of information collected during the project. The database, produced in CD ROM format, has been designed to be easy for anyone with basic computer skills to use. It requires Word 97 and Excel 97, and operates in the same style as the Internet, with extensive use of hyperlinks to enable point-and click navigation. The database component is set up with filtering facilities to allow untrained users to extract information quickly and easily.
Sharing the Knowledge
Since the inception of the Alps MOU the AALC has supported and initiated a large number of research studies and reports to help fill the gaps in the knowledge required to protect and manage the natural values of the Australian Alps national parks. In order to ensure that maximum benefit is obtained from this array of work the Natural Heritage Working Group initiated two workshops called “Sharing the Knowledge: Research from the Australian Alps”.
The two workshops, held in Jindabyne and Bright in November 2000, attracted more than 110 staff from throughout the park agencies and other interested parties. Nine presenters from research institutes and park agencies presented information on a variety of research topics including: vegetation restoration in the Alps; Stream health monitoring; English broom control; fox/wild dog bait stations and their effect on spotted tailed Quolls; rabbits, RCD and Prey Switching; Alps “Natural Treasures”; Alps scientific sites; population ecology of feral horses and vegetation fire response and affects on fauna.
Population ecology of feral horses in the Australian Alps
Horses are a feral species capable of damaging the unique natural values of the Australian Alps. They are also of cultural interest having recently recolonised the main range of Kosciuszko after being absent since the grazing era.
In 1999, Michelle Walter began a Ph.D. partly funded over 3 years by the AALC through the University of Canberra (Applied Ecology Research Group) on the Population ecology of feral horses in the Australian Alps. The research project has three main components: distribution and abundance; population dynamics; and factors limiting population growth. This year marked the completion of the second year of the research project.
A broad scale aerial survey to estimate the density and abundance of wild horses was successfully completed in March 2001. This is the first time such a survey has been undertaken and has been designed so that it can be repeated to allow for long term monitoring of the population. The best estimates of abundance so far indicate a population of between 4345 and 5104.
Biannual ground surveys are being used to monitor the population dynamics of the horses. Preliminary analysis on the first two years of surveying suggests that annual survival rates are very high.
It is anticipated that the research project will be completed by June 2002. The work to date is already providing some useful information in the development of a wild horse management plan for the Kosciuszko alpine area.
Implementation of English Broom Management Strategy
English/Scotch broom, (Cytisus scoparius) is an upright evergreen shrub of European origin introduced into Australia, more than 150 years ago, for its ornamental value. It has become an aggressive invader of a broad range of ecological habitats and as such has been declared a noxious environmental weed in the south-eastern states of Australia. It has successfully invaded large areas of the Australian Alps national parks and is having a significant impact on the biodiversity and natural values of the region. This prompted the AALC to develop an integrated broom management strategy for the Australian Alps national parks.
Researchers from the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) in collaboration with AAnp’s rangers and park planners, prepared the Broom Management Strategy for the Australian Alps National Parks as part of the 1999/2000 cooperative program. The partnership has continued during this reporting period with the implementation of the Broom Management Strategy.
DNRE through the Keith Turnbull Research Institute (KTRI) were engaged to facilitate the implementation of the integrated broom management strategy in consultation with regional field staff across the Alps. The major components of the implementation of the strategy include: establishment of biological control sites for the suppression of English broom, monitoring and evaluation of control sites, awareness raising with land managers and raising community awareness of the biological control project for the suppression of English broom within the Australian Alps national parks.
A major milestone during the reporting period was the establishment of 6 new biological control release sites. This was achieved through the identification and prioritising of all infestation sites suitable for future biological control of English broom combined with knowledge of previously established control sites. This information on site status was used to select strategic locations right throughout the Australian Alps for the further release of the twig-mining moth (Leucoptera spartifoliella) and the broom psyllid (Arytainilla spartiophila).
Extensive monitoring and evaluation of the existing biological control release sites was also undertaken during this reporting period. Thirteen twig-mining moth sites and four seed-feeding beetle sites were visited and assessed for their presence/absence of the control agents. The twig mining moth was recovered at all sites visited, representing a 100% recovery rate. At several sites the moth had spread meters away from the actual release point. While evidence is still anecdotal, it appears that there is significant decrease in the flowering and seed production on broom twigs infested with the twig–mining moth larvae.
Targeted education and awareness campaigns, to minimize the impact of broom and help prevent its further spread, were an important part of this year’s implementation of the control strategy. An English broom biological control display and extension material featuring the Australia Alps logo was incorporated into the Weed Expo 2000 in Darebin, Victoria, as part of Weed Buster Week and extension material was made available for the Canberra Garden Show. Awareness raising with staff was also important with more than 110 people from Alps agencies and other interested parties attending information sessions in Bright and Jindabyne as part of the “Sharing the knowledge” workshop series.
Mining Heritage Conservation and Presentation Strategy
Mining is one of the important historic themes reflected in a variety of sites and landscapes within the Australian Alps national parks and adjoining historic reserves. These sites and landscapes document how mining and the people involved influenced, and were influenced by, the alpine and sub-alpine environment.
During the reporting period the AALC commissioned Rob Kaufman & Associates to prepare a Mining Heritage Conservation & Presentation Strategy for the Australian Alps national parks. The purpose of the strategy is to guide both the conservation of the important historic mining places in the Australian Alps and the presentation of a range of historic mining places for visitor use.
The need for this strategy was identified in the Australian Alps cultural heritage research and implementation strategy report prepared in 2000. The development of the mining heritage strategy is very timely – 2001 is the 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold in Australia.
Stage one of the project report has been completed. It lays the groundwork for the analysis of the historic mining sites and landscapes within the Australian Alps by: identifying available sources of information; developing a database of all documented historic mining places within the Alps; placing mining in the Australian Alps within a global context; explaining adaptations for mining in the Australian Alps; summarising the history of mining in the Australian Alps and providing definitions of historic mining sites, landscapes and associated infrastructure.
Stage two, a comparative analysis, has now begun. Although some of the work is weather-dependent, it is anticipated that the project will be completed in November 2001. The final report will assemble all the available information about the mining heritage of the Australian Alps, provide guidance in the management of the mining heritage of the Australian Alps, identify links with existing and proposed tourism programs and recommend a staged program for developing a representative group of sites for visitor use.
Human Movement Pathways Project
A preliminary report on how people accessed and used the Australian Alps in bygone days was received. The project plots the routes used by Aborigines, explorers, pastoralists, miners and even postal deliveries. The locations of these access routes is of great interest to park managers in their efforts to ensure that any evidence such as scar trees, bridal paths or stockyards are protected and, if appropriate, interpreted. Many of the pathways used over the ages actually overlap, as could be expected as successive patterns of movement (eg. exploration, mining) follow the easiest paths used by Aboriginal communities through and around the Australian Alps.
Communicating across cultures
Following on from the huge success of the inaugural Communicating Across Cultures workshop, held in November 1999, the Cultural Heritage Working Group successfully delivered a second indigenous issues awareness workshop during this reporting period.
Held at Currango homestead in Kosciuszko, the Communicating Across Cultures workshop provided participants from all four conservation agencies involved in the Alps program, with a valuable insight into Aboriginal culture, society and contemporary issues. The workshop provided field-based staff and managers with awareness into, and greater understanding of, the issues faced by contemporary Aboriginal people. It also provided them with valuable skills to assist them in the development of more effective working relationships with Aboriginal people who have an interest in the Australian Alps national parks.
The course proved to be mentally, spiritually and emotionally challenging to all those who attended and at the same time provided an insight into Australia’s indigenous community. It questioned people’s perceptions and explored the barriers to communication from an Aboriginal perspective. The workshop facilitators again demonstrated their skills, knowledge and extensive experience in illustrating the issues of concern to Indigenous Australians.
Scientific Sites Interpretation and Management Strategy
Early alpine scientists were inspired to undertake research on Australia’s unique alpine flora because it was so different to the rest of the continent. The affinities with alpine flora in other continents were also striking and of great interest to both local and overseas botanists who pursued their studies under remote and trying conditions. The great wave of scientific research that occurred during the 1900’s has long been acknowledged as contributing significantly to the management of the Australian Alps national parks. However further legacies of this early work are the research sites, scattered throughout the Alps, now contributing to the cultural landscape.
In 1994, the AALC commissioned Griffith and Robin to assess the cultural heritage value of the scientific research sites in the Alps. They identified 48 sites to be of outstanding cultural significance. The Cultural Heritage Research and Implementation Report, undertaken by the Cultural Heritage working group in 1999/2000, identified the need to develop a strategy for protection and interpretation of the cultural heritage values of these sites.
During this reporting period a staff member from within the Australian Alps agencies has been seconded to develop a thematic interpretation and management strategy for the scientific sites of cultural significance in the Australian Alps national parks. This will build on the scientific database developed by the AALC as well as raise public awareness of these sites and ensure their long-term protection. It is anticipated that the strategy will be completed by the end of 2001.
Mountain Walking Track Management Workshop
In March 2001, the Recreation and Tourism Working Group developed and hosted an international 4-day Field Forum on Best-Practice Mountain Walking Track management.
The workshop is one of a highly successful series of best-practice field forums designed for land managers who are confronted by and deal with, contemporary park management issues as they occur throughout the Australian Alps national parks.
The forum brought together land managers, specialists and industry representatives from Australia and overseas to look at best practice contemporary mountain walking track planning, maintenance and construction.
One hundred delegates took part in the comprehensive program comprising plenary and concurrent sessions presented by speakers from Australia, Scotland, New Zealand and Nepal, as well as industry exhibitions and field site inspections within and adjacent to the Mt Buffalo and Alpine National Parks in Victoria.
The formal program and the informal networking opportunities provided delegates with access to extensive knowledge and experience on the subject. The overall budget for the workshop was augmented by additional sponsorship from the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism.
Minimal impact messages
In 1992 the Recreation and Tourism Working Group started producing a series of recreational user codes to help provide visitors with advice on how to enjoy the Alps parks environments without creating pollution and other impacts. The series of 6 codes covered: mountain bike riding; car-based camping; bushwalking; horse riding; snow-based camping and river rafting. The huts code was added in 1996.
These codes, produced in brochure format, have now been in use for more than 5 years. The need to rethink the existing codes and produce a series of generic introductory minimal impact messages was identified in the 1998/99 evaluation. It also recommended that the codes be delivered through a range of different media.
During this reporting period Elizabeth Beckmann and Associates were engaged to: develop and test new basic minimal impact messages for the Australian Alps national parks, identify creative and effective delivery methods for those messages and devise a program to evaluate the effectiveness of the messages and delivery methods into the future.
The concepts developed so far have been tested internally with staff representatives from the Australian Alps national parks and externally through a focus group and other consultation with representatives from a variety of user groups. Independent users will also be involved in the further development of the consultation phase.
It is anticipated that the final set of key messages, additional message support information and effective delivery methods will be ready for implementation by the end of 2001.
Recreational planning model
This year saw the completion of the third and final stage of a Recreational Planning Model developed to assist park managers to make decisions about recreation management in the Australian Alps.
The Recreation and Tourism Working Group identified the need to establish a model that park managers could use to gather information and assist in making decisions about recreational settings and activities within the Australian Alps national parks. An initial study was undertaken in 1998 from which a recreation-planning model was developed.
In 1999, Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) mapping was carried out, identifying recreational activities, facilities and management issues for individual unit areas within the Australian Alps national parks. The project also aimed to identify the areas with the greatest visitor management issues for potential application of a recreation planning model and to involve parks staff in the data collection and in doing so, increase their understanding of visitor management.
In the final stage of the project a planning team comprising staff from the northern section of Kosciuszko (NSW) and Namadgi (ACT) national parks used the original model and the ROS mapping to develop a plan for the area. During this process the model was refined to make it easier for staff in other areas to apply the recreation planning tools that have now been developed and tested through this project.
This model outlines the need to plan for a diverse range of personal preferences and access opportunities while at the same time ensuring the protection and conservation of natural and cultural heritage values and maintaining a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
As a result of the completion of the implementation phase the model will be circulated with a 4 page summary sheet outlining an easy to use guide to the 8 step planning process. This will aid in the application of the model by local park management staff.
Australian Alps walking track
An information kit was developed during the reporting period for the Australian Alps walking track. The kit has been designed to provide comprehensive information on the walking track for use at the two centres, Namadgi and Walhalla, located either end of the track.
The kit includes some background information on the AALC and the Australian Alps national parks, certificates of completion, space to record information about people using the track and a walk diary as well as track monitoring forms for walkers to give feedback to the people maintaining the track.
Of special interest and value is a summarised account provided by Ross Walker, about a group of bushwalkers from the Canberra Bushwalking Club who traversed the track in late 2000. It gives would-be walkers a brief overview of planning, the schedule and the difficulties faced by a well-experienced group.
The kit should prove to be a valuable resource for new staff and those responsible for maintaining the track as well as visitors contemplating undertaking this rewarding challenge.
The economic benefits of the Australian Alps
The values of the Australian Alps are many and varied. They range from the intrinsic conservation and heritage values to the direct-use values such as the supply of clean and reliable water, hydroelectricity and tourism. The latter is the subject of a major study being undertaken by La Trobe University, commissioned by the AALC, to assess the tourism value, in economic terms, of the Australian Alps national parks.
The study, jointly funded by the AALC and the CRC for Sustainable Tourism, will adopt the standard approach to measuring economic value of tourism. Researchers will estimate tourism expenditure (through information gathered in the field) and model the amount of Gross State Product (GSP) or state income generated by tourism to the region.
A survey has been developed and is currently being distributed throughout the alpine region through visitor centres, entrance stations, car windscreens and mail-outs based on accommodation databases. Some face-to-face interviews may also be undertaken by La Trobe and University of Canberra to ensure coverage of all the Australian Alps parks.
The information being collected during this period will be supplemented with information collected by the Bureau of Tourism Research and by previous studies undertaken in parts of the region including the 1993 Victorian Resorts study and the 1994 NSW Alpine study.
It is anticipated that the data collection will be completed by January 2002 and the report will be finalised by March 2002. The completed study will be the first comprehensive report of the tourism value of the entire Alps national parks system and will provide invaluable information to the AALC and many other groups for use in future planning.
Alpine Ecology Workshop
The Australian Alps Liaison Committee sponsored two field staff to attend the 2001 Alpine Ecology Workshop held at Bogong High Plains (Victoria). The four–day intensive residential course presented by La Trobe University and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (Vic) provided an ideal opportunity for field staff to refresh and extend their knowledge about the complex ecological balance of alpine environments, learn new information from highly qualified instructors and to review management practices.
Australian Alps newsletter
Regular communication with staff throughout the Australian Alps national parks and with others interested in the management of the Australian Alps is seen as vital to the continued support, cooperation and involvement.
The newsletter, News from the Australian Alps, is the major means of keeping staff and other interested stakeholders of the alpine parks in touch with progress on Alps projects and activities. It is also a valuable method of raising and maintaining community awareness of the Australian Alps national parks and the benefits arising from the cooperative management program.
During the reporting period two newsletters were produced, the Spring 2000 and Autumn 2001 editions. The newsletters were distributed widely both in Australia and overseas to Australian Alps national parks staff, the tourism industry, tour operators, external organisations, educational institutions, and user groups.
Annual Field Workshop
This years Annual Field Workshop, held in November 2000 at Dinner Plain, provided the opportunity to discuss the future direction of the Alps cooperative management program. The theme of the workshop, “Program Development”, explored past, present and future strategies aimed at achieving the desired outcomes of the MOU.
Presentations on the origins and evolution of the Alps program were made to the gathering of AALC and working group members by Bruce Lever, Executive Director of the Heritage Commission, and Roger Good, research scientist with NSW NPWS. These talks provided an excellent point of reference for discussing ideas on the future directions of the program.
Alistair Grinbergs of the Australian Heritage Commission and a former member of the cultural heritage working group provided an update on the new Commonwealth legislation relating to national listings and the possibility of a national heritage nomination for the Australian Alps.
The field workshop also provided an opportunity for networking across the agencies, as well as the opportunity to learn about key projects currently underway across the Australian Alps national parks. In addition to the more formal sessions a team- building exercise was incorporated into the program with “hands-on” activities centred around planning, communication skills and time management issues.
Responsibility for day-to-day management of the Australian Alps national parks remains vested with each agency party to the MOU. The majority of works within the Australian Alps national parks are undertaken by the managing agencies of the parks, in line with agreed strategies and statutory management plans.
Through the Australian Alps national parks cooperative management program, the AALC has sought to provide land managers with the appropriate technical tools by way of sound scientific advice within management reports and strategies, to assist in achieving the objectives of the MOU in delivering best-practice land management across the region.
The Broom Management Strategy for the Australian Alps national parks (1999) provides each agency with a regional overview and guiding strategy for the control of this invasive weed species. Parks Victoria, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and the ACT Parks & Conservation Service have again allocated significant financial and ‘on ground’ resources in controlling Broom. The management strategy developed by the AALC has helped the agencies maximise their on-ground control efforts by strategically targeting infestation sites to protect park values and prevent the further spread of the weed.
Parks Victoria has this year provided additional funding, along with the AALC, to the Keith Turnbull Research Institute to establish seven more biological agent nursery sites for the control of English broom within the Alpine National Park. They have also invested $50,000 in the spraying of Broom in the Mitta Mitta Valley where the worst infestations occur.
In Kosciuszko National Park and the adjoining Scabby Range Nature Reserve (NSW), the Broom Control Program has been maintained and continues to be expanded in response to the recording of new sites. Within Namadgi National Park (ACT) extensive staff and volunteer hours were spent during the reporting period, in controlling and monitoring English Broom.
The Australian Alps Human Waste Management Workshop held in 1999 continues to be a valuable tool in helping field staff make critical decisions about toilet installations. As a direct flow on from the best practice field forum, Parks Victoria has will be installing two innovative Tasmanian type composting toilets in the Alpine National Park. The locations are Cleve Cole Hut and Federation Hut. The units are scheduled to be commissioned by November this year. It is anticipated that more toilets will be installed in high priority locations throughout the Park in the next several years to prevent pollution of watercourses and reduce human impacts.
This years best practice field forum on walking tracks is already providing staff with additional knowledge and expert assistance in managing the extensive trail system throughout the Alps national parks. Parks Victoria, NSW NPWS and Environment ACT staff from across the Alps and beyond contributed to and benefited from the best practice Mountain Walking Track workshop held in Victoria in March 2001. Parks Victoria already have a tracks and trails strategy in place and anticipate that improvements to construction and maintenance techniques will flow from the workshop.
The results of the spotted tail quoll study into the aerial impacts of 1080 poison supported by the AALC have again proved invaluable for staff in NPWS reserves in south east NSW, where wild dog problems remain a significant issue. The results have greatly helped to plan, implement and expand buried baiting programs throughout the Byadbo wilderness and other areas in Kosciuszko National Park.
The findings from the AALC funded PhD research study on the population ecology of feral horses in the Alpine and Kosciuszko National Parks have already greatly increased the knowledge on wild horses. The study is providing valuable information to NSW NPWS as part of the development of a management strategy. The results of the research project are also assisting Parks Victoria in the management of wild horses. Parks Victoria are in the process of contracting local groups to remove feral horses from Alpine National Park.
A further example of the implementation of Australian Alps strategies and management reports is in the area of historic huts. NSW NPWS has funded maintenance works on several historic huts. Hut maintenance has always been an area of concern for staff across the Australian Alps national parks. Within Kosciuszko (NSW) and Namadgi (ACT) national parks valuable hut conservation work has again been undertaken by the Kosciusko Huts Association – a group of dedicated volunteers. This year the association celebrated its 30th anniversary, a notable achievement in International Year of Volunteers 2001.
Raising community awareness of the Australian Alps national parks as a unique mountainous region crossing state and territory boundaries continues to be a public relations focus for the AALC. The success of the Tourism award submission has helped raise the profile of the Australian Alps national parks and the Cooperative Management program in the ACT region. In NSW the early results from the Economic Benefits Study are already being used to assist with the development of a 5 year tourism strategy by the regional tourism association.
The Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) offers a tangible example of the Alps as a single region with people working cooperatively together across park boundaries. Across the Alps the AAWT is regarded as a major recreation facility with a high level of community ownership and support. The AAWT Strategy (1997) continued to provide the necessary guidelines for extensive AAWT maintenance.
Heads of Agencies Meeting
This annual meeting provides an important opportunity for directors and heads of agencies of the parties to the MOU, to come together, review progress and to discuss the future directions and projects for the cooperative management of the Australian Alps national parks. During the reporting period, the meeting was held at Mt Hotham and addressed a range of issues including the strategic plan, program budget, current works program, the annual report, partnerships, distribution and marketing strategy and the future directions for the program.
Of additional interest during this reporting period were discussions centred around the planning towards International Year of the Mountains 2002 and the possible world heritage nomination of the Australian Alps in the context of the new national listings.
Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife
The Alps cooperative management program has continued to develop and foster links with the Tasmanian Park Service during this reporting period through circulation of the Alps newsletter and reports as well as working together to refine best-practice management techniques.
The benefits of maintaining a close working relationship between the Alps cooperative management program and the Tasmanian Park Service have been highlighted this year through the best practice Field Forum on Mountain Walking Tracks. Tasmanian presenters Phyll Wyatt, Andrew Ferguson and Stuart Graham, collectively contributed to the forum more than 40 years experience and expertise in track maintenance and construction. All of them have worked extensively across Tasmania in implementing World Heritage Area and statewide track management strategies. Participants benefited from their on ground experiences in the areas of selecting skilled staff, planning, supervising and programming of maintenance and restoration works in often very remote locations on challenging and heavily used tracks throughout Tasmania’s protected areas.
Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism
The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Sustainable Tourism is a Commonwealth Government-funded organisation that promotes research in environmental, social and economic sustainability in Australia. CRC members include government tourism organisations such as the Tourism Council of Australia, Tourism New South Wales and Tourism Victoria; and universities including La Trobe, Griffith and Canberra.
Mountain tourism has been identified by the CRC for Sustainable Tourism as a large, important and distinctive component of the tourism industry in Australia. In recognition of this, the CRC for Sustainable Tourism and the Australian Alps Liaison Committee have been working together to develop joint research programs and promote best-practice tourism management. This has been achieved during the reporting period with the joint funding and involvement in several important projects including:
- A major research study on the Economic Benefits of the Australian Alps national parks;
- The running of a best-practice Field Forum on Mountain Walking Tracks as part of a series of best practice workshops;
- Assisting with the production and launch of the revised Kosciuszko Alpine Flora; and
- The facilitation of an initial planning workshop for International Year of the Mountains (IYM) 2002.
Australian Alps national parks Cooperative Management Program
|Agencies||Commonwealth||New South Wales||Australian Capital Territory||Victoria|
|Conservation Agencies Involved||Environment Australia||National Parks & Wildlife Service||Environment ACT||Parks Victoria|
|Responsible Minister||Senator the Hon.
Minister for the Environment & Heritage
|The Hon. Bob Debus
Minister for the Environment
|Mr Brendan Smyth MLA
Minister for Urban Services
|The Hon. Sheryl Garbutt
Minister for Environment & Conservation
|Head of Agencies||Peter Cochrane
National Parks & Wildlife Service
|Dr Colin Adrian (May 2001)
Elizabeth Fowler (Acting)
|Australian Alps Liaison Committee||Lee Thomas
Area Management Planning
Environment Australia Paul Stevenson
Snowy Mountains Region
NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
Parks & Conservation Service
|Program Coordinator||Brett Macnamara (seconded ACT Parks & Conservation Service) (Feb 2001)Virginia Logan (seconded ACT Parks & Conservation Service)|
|Recreation & Tourism Working Group||Gillian Lee
|Angie Jenkins (Feb 2001)
Karen Civil (Convenor)
|Community Relations Working Group||Rod Atkins||Pat Darlington
|Odile Arman (Convenor)
|Natural Heritage Working Group||Graeme Enders
Genevieve Wright Rob Hunt (Convenor)
Lyn Nelson (Feb 2001)
|Cultural Heritage Working Group||Ken Heffernan
Alistair Grinsberg (Dec 2000)
|Ray Supple (Convenor)
Financial report Year Ending 30 June 2001
|Opening Balance||$ 5,705||Expenditures||$ 353,727|
|Revenue (Contributions/Grants)||$ 400,000||Carry-over commitments||$ 22,000|
|Revenue (Programs/publications)||$ 20,472||Transferred to 2001/02 projects||$ 50,450|
|Total Funded sources 00/01||$ 426,177||Total||$ 426,177|
to 30th June
$ carried over 01/02
|Natural Heritage Conservation|
|Population Ecology of Feral Horses||18,300||18,300||0|
|Natural Treasures Database||5,500||5,428||0|
|Vegetation Fire Response Monitoring||5,000||0||0|
|Biocontrol of Broom||26,000||26,000||0|
|Cultural Heritage Conservation|
|Cross Culture Awareness Training||8,000||7,982||0|
|Interpretation & Management Strategy for Scientific Sites||18,000||0||18,000|
|Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Workshop||6,000||0||0|
|Mining Site Management||20,000||19,721||0|
|Visitor Facilities & Services|
|Minimal Impact Codes Review||20,000||11,213||4,000|
|Walking Track Working Group||5,500||3,218||0|
|Walking Track Best Practice Field Forum||35,000||36,676||0|
|Tour Guides Training Development||6,000||2,000||0|
|Recreational Model Strategy – Stage 3||14,000||13,954||0|
|Toilet Audit Report||4,000||4,060||0|
|Marketing & Public Relations Plan||5,000||5,000||0|
|Media & Community Projects Officer||24,000||23,982||0|
|World Wide Web Page||6,000||3,818||0|
|Newspaper Feature Development||15,000||3,000||0|
|Tourism Award Submission||4,000||4,000||0|
|Management Expertise & Program Coordination|
|Economic Benefits Research Study||30,000||30,000||0|
|Program Development Workshop||12,000||11,928||0|
|Program Administration & Support||29,000||29,228||0|
|Production & Distribution of Newsletters||10,000||9,957||0|
|Production of Annual Report||4,500||4,500||0|
|Reprinting of Publications & Reference material||13,000||12,701||0|