We know that climate change is already impacting on the Australian Alps. Declining snow pack, hotter summers, and longer fire seasons are just some of the impacts we are seeing. This brings many challenges to land managers, and is changing the mountain landscapes we know and love.
Additionally, local economies rely on the beautiful natural surroundings of the Alps, which attract skiers, riders and others from around the state and the country. Declining environments will impact on the numbers of visitors and hence local economies.
This short seminar will delve into the issue of fire, and how we need to respond to longer and more intense seasons in the Victorian mountains.
MC: Melissa Clarke, ABC politics and environment reporter.
Dr Philip, Adjunct Associate Professor, Curtin University. Phil will speak about the impacts of fire on snow gums and alpine ash: what are the threats, and how do we need to respond to more frequent fire. Phil’s work focuses on the drivers of fire behaviour and he has written widely about the impacts of fire on these vegetation communities. Snow gum communities are at risk as climate change drives a feedback loop of accelerating fire frequency and severity. As the mountains warm, fires become more frequent; but snow gum communities are twice as likely to burn in the decades after fire compared to older stands, so the landscape becomes more flammable at the same time as the climate gives it more fire. Philip will discuss the mechanisms that drive this, and what it means for how we interact with the high country.
Peter Jacobs, President, Upper Ovens Valley Landcare Group will discuss the fact that fires in this area are becoming more frequent and the concerns that landcare has about impacts on biodiversity in the alps. As an example, the 2013 Harrietville fire burnt some areas of alpine ash for the third time in 10 years depleting seed bearing trees and putting the forests at risk. The Victorian government subsequently undertook the first large scale post fire reseeding program in a national park to help alpine ash communities regenerate, which was again undertaken following the 2020 fires. Peter will discuss the implications of this and other interventions as a response to the impact of climate change on biodiversity.
Craig Hore, Parks Victoria, will discuss how climate change is impacting on the Alpine National Park and how land managers are responding.
Aaron Kennedy, Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Director Forest Fire Operations, Hume Region. Aaron will present an overview of the significant impact of large scale fires on communities and the environment in north east Victoria during the past 20 years and the challenges confronting land and fire management agencies moving forward.
A firefighter will discuss the implications for how we should manage fire in the alpine areas to allow snow gum and alpine ash communities to recover from recent fires.
Presented by Friends of the Earth and Upper Ovens Valley Landcare Group.
This event is being held as part of the speakers program of the Victorian backcountry festival (September 2, 3 and 4 at the Mt Hotham resort).
This is a free event. Because of limited seating, we are asking people to pre register. This will be a covid safe event. Masks and sanitiser will be available and we encourage all participants to be mindful of social distancing. Drinks and food are available for purchase at the venue.
There is a facebook event page available here. But please remember to rsvp via the website if you're planning to attend.
This event will be livestreamed
If you can't make it to Mt Hotham, the event will be live streamed via the event facebook page.
Further information and taking action
Please check our report An Icon At Risk for background information. It details the threats to the high country environments of north eastern Victoria.
And please consider signing our letter to the Environment Minister urging her to act to protect these forests.