Alpine National Park... ...or cow paddock?

Plants and animals threatened by alpine grazing

There are a number of listings under Victoria’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee (FFG) Act relating to alpine grazing. This Act of Parliament aims to protect threatened plants, animals and ecological communities in Victoria.

In particular:

Soil Erosion and Vegetation Damage and Disturbance in the Alpine Regions of Victoria Caused by Cattle Grazing is listed as a Potentially Threatening Process (Nomination no. 211).

And cattle grazing is clearly and significantly implicated in the listings and action statements of two additional FFG Threatening Processes:

Increase in Sediment Input to Rivers and Streams due to Human Activities
Degradation of Native Riparian Vegetation along Victorian Rivers and Streams

That the recommendations in the Action Statements of these two listings are effectively ignored, within a National Park that ostensibly ‘protects’ the headwaters of most of the significant river systems in Eastern Victoria, beggars belief.

A number of alpine and sub-alpine species and communities affected by cattle grazing are separately listed as threatened under the FFG Act, notably the:

Alpine Water Skink Eulamprus kosciuskoi ( Nom. 222; Action Statement 114);
Alpine Bog Skink Pseudemoia cryodroma (Nom. 390);
Alpine She-oak Skink Cyclodomorphus praealtus (Nom. 393; Action State’t 113);
Mountain Daisy Brachyscombe tenuiscapa (Nom. 169);
Silky Daisy Celmisia sericophylla (Nom. 220);
Drapetes Kelleria laxa (Nom. 179);
Dwarf Sedge Carex paupera (Nom. 176);
Rock Tussock Grass Poa saxicola (Nom. 177);
Wire-head Sedge Carex cephalotes (Nom. 156);
Silver Caraway Oreomyrrhis argentia (Nom. 178);
Carpet Willow Herb Epilobium willisii (extinct?) (Nom. 171);
Mountain Cress Drabastrum alpestre (Nom. 174);
Fairy Bluebell Wahlenbergia densifolia (Nom. 175;
Rough Eyebright Euphrasia scabra (Nom. 153);
Snow Pratia Pratia gelida (Nom. 467);
Bent Grass Deyeuxia affinis (Prelim. Rec. 655)
Caltha introloba Herbland Community (Nom. 202);
Alpine Snowpatch Community (Nom. 192);
Alpine Bog Community (Nom.159);
Fen (Bog Pool) Community (Nom. 182).

In addition a further 30 (non-FFG listed) plants, all within grazing licence areas of the Alpine National Park and likely to be affected by grazing, are listed as vulnerable or threatened in Victoria:

Aciphylla glacialis Snow Aciphyll
Barbarea grayi Native Wintercress
Cardamine astoniae Spreading Bittercress
Cardamine franklinensis Franklin Bittercress
Carex Archeri Archer’s Sedge
Carex echinata Star Sedge
Carex hypandra Alpine Fern-sedge
Coprosma pumilla Dwarf Coprosma
Craspedia alba White Bully-buttons
Craspedia lamicola Smooth Billy-buttons
Deyeuxia affinis Allied Bent-grass
Diurus ochroma Pale Golden Moths
Epilobium tasmanicum Snow Willow-herb
Erigiron conyzoides Daisy Fleabane
Euphrasia collina ssp diversicolor Purple Eyebright
Euphrasia crassiuscula ssp glandulifera Thick Eyebright
Euphrasia eichleri Bogong Eyebright
Juncus antarcticus Cushion rush
Luzula atrata Slender woodrush
Oreomyrrhis brevipes Branched Caraway
Oreomyrrhis pulvinifica Cushion Caraway
Pelargonium helmsii Mountain Stork’s-bill
Poa labillardierei var acris Sharp Mountain Tussock-grass
Poa petrophila Rock Tussock-grass
Prasophyllum rogersii Marsh Leek-orchid
Prasophyllum sp aff brevilabre (SW Vic) Western Short-tip Leek-orchid
Ranunculus mueleri var muelleri Felted Buttercup
Rytidosperma australe Southern Sheep-grass
Senecio georgianus Grey groundsel (extinct already?)
Uncinia sulcata Small Hook-sedge
Utricularia monanthos Tasmanian Bladderwort

A host of others are listed as rare.

The existence of such a suite of listings in relation to clearly identified threatening processes in such a significant protected area must be ringing alarm bells within a Government dedicated to responsible conservation management.