|Alpine National Park...||...or cow paddock?|
The latest research on fire in Victoria's high country, presented to the Ecological Society of Australia conference in Adelaide this week, has revealed that cattle grazing did not reduce the spread or intensity of the 2003 bushfires on the Bogong High Plains.
Charlie Sherwin, Director of the Victorian National Parks Association, says: "This important new science shows that grazing in the Alpine National Park cannot be justified on the false assumption that running cows up there somehow reduces fire risk - it doesn't."
The research, led by CSIRO, supports previous studies and verifies the finding of the Victorian Governments Esplin report, that cattle grazing is not needed for fire suppression in the Alps.
Science also tells us that cattle grazing causes erosion, damages the headwaters of major river catchments and spreads weeds through the fragile National Park. National Parks should be a refuge for threatened species, but cattle grazing is ruining this park and placing many native plants and animals at risk of extinction.
In this new study, scientists from the CSIRO, La Trobe University and the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation measured the extent and intensity of the 2003 fire, in both grazed and un-grazed areas, sampling along a total of 80 kilometres across different sections of the Bogong High Plains. The research found that there was no measurable difference in the extent of fire, or the intensity of fire, between the grazed and the un-grazed parts of the High Plains. Mr Sherwin added that the research underlines two poorly understood effects of grazing in the High Country: "Cattle prefer to eat the fleshy-leaved, more fire-resistant wildflowers but they don't like the highly flammable shrubs. If you were going to use grazing to manage fire you would probably need to graze elephants up there, not cattle."
Its time for licensed cattle grazing to be shifted out of the Alpine National Park into less sensitive areas.
For more information on whether cows can reduce fires in the Alps, go here.