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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
11 October 2005
The Australian Government today unveiled a $15 million, three-year plan to create a Greater Alpine National Park in Victoria, NSW and the ACT to protect the park’s unique natural environment while preserving the 170-year-old tradition of cattle grazing in Victoria’s high country.
The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the plan was an ambitious, practical answer to the conservation, heritage and recreational needs of the Alps. The park would be placed on the National Heritage List and assessed for World Heritage nomination.
“A truly great international park requires a careful balance to be struck between the conservation of nature, the protection of heritage and public enjoyment,” he said.
“Today there are 12 parks covering 1.6 million hectares extending down the Alps. These national parks conserve the rich alpine flora and fauna and provide recreation to millions of visitors each year. They are Australian treasures.
“There is nonetheless a need for the outstanding environmental and heritage values present to be given enhanced protection and management. This plan will do that.”
The plan includes:
Senator Campbell said he had written to the Victorian Minister for the Environment, John Thwaites, seeking his support for the plan.
“I am aware the Victorian Government has taken a decision to ban cattle grazing in the High Country as an environmental measure, but this plan offers a way to preserve this rich cultural heritage without damaging the alpine environment,” he said.
“The Australian Government will invest $3.5 million to provide state-of-the-art virtual fencing and electric and conventional fencing to protect the most sensitive areas from cattle.
“The CSIRO is trialling virtual fencing technology and will be involved in on-ground operations. The technology uses global positioning systems to plot exclusion areas. The information is stored in a collar or ear tag on cattle and a signal emitted when they approach a no-go zone. It is the ideal solution to stock control.”
Senator Campbell said one of the most significant elements of the plan was the excision of the southern Bogong High Plains from grazing. This was the “jewel in the crown” of alpine pastures and the area with the heaviest concentration of bogs and fens, accounting for around 60 per cent.
“The executive of the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria has agreed to surrender this prime area, which totals 31,500ha and normally carried almost 2400 head of cattle, in a bid to retain their pioneering heritage links and the bonds that bind the families of mountain cattlemen,” he said.
Senator Campbell said he had asked Mr Thwaites to agree to a small working group representative of both governments to examine the proposal and report back.
“This commands another look by those of us who are entrusted to protect Australia’s environment and heritage,” he said.
“I respect that there are strong and often differing views held on all sides of this issue, among scientist, farmers, conservationists and the general public.
“I am confident this plan provides a way forward to balance individual interests and the needs of alpine nature conservation and our national heritage.”
Renae Stoikos (Minister Campbell) (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434