Campbell's decision on Alps short on science, big on politics

October 11, 2005

The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, has released a plan to create a Greater Alpine National Park in Victoria, NSW and the ACT. The commendable elements of this proposal are completely eclipsed, however, by his intention to allow continued grazing by cattle in selected areas. Any continuation of grazing is against scientific consensus about the destructiuve impacts cows have on alpine ecosystems and waterways.

In a historic move, the Victorian government has banned grazing through much of the high elevation areas of the Alpine National Park and announced funding of $7.5 million for High Country initiatives, including transition payments for graziers. Both the Federal Environment Department and the Australian Heritage Council have supported the removal of cattle grazing for environmental reasons.

“According to the Ministers plan, the new combined park would be placed on the National Heritage List and assessed for World Heritage nomination” said Cam Walker, campaigns co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth. “The glaring contradiction, that grazing will damage the heritage values of the area and prevent world heritage listing, seems to be lost on Mr Campbell.”

“This minister has, from the time he was appointed, been keen to align himself with business interests, even at the expense of conservation outcomes. Now, he has sided with the interests of 45 cattle businesses over the benefits that would come with the recent decision to finally afford proper protection to the Australian Alps. The fact that the Minister is proposing electric fencing demonstrates that he is aware that cattle damage fragile environments and watercourses, yet he has continued with his ill conceived plan to try and keep grazing in these icon areas”.

Comment: Cam Walker 0419 338 047