The State Coalition's announcement to return cattle to the Alpine National Park if elected to Government is a retrograde step for the fragile and unique alpine environment that is primarily protected for its special environmental values. This vegetation is the result of millenia without grazing by large herds of cows and it is therefore unsurprising that this relatively new influence on the alpine vegetation is damaging the landscape.
The Shadow Minister Peter Walsh wants to use grazing to reduce fuel loads and minimise the risks of 'mega' fires. However this policy ignores many reports and studies which found that grazing in the alps has no impact on fire risk. Bruce Esplin, Emergency Services commissioner, in his report following the 2003 alpine bushfires, and a combined CSIRO, La Trobe University and NSW Department of Environment and Conservation study, both concluded that cattle have no influence on the spread of fire.
Peter Walsh also states "Unless cattle are allowed to return to Victoria's alpine country, a vital part of Victoria's history will be lost". However many cattle are still grazed in state forest adjacent to the national park. The tradition does continue.
He would also be aware of the thousands of farmers involved in Landcare, farmers who farm their land sustainably in conjunction with their environment, doing such things as fencing off waterways to prevent erosion and improve water quality. By removing cattle from the Alpine National Park, the Government has done a similar thing by protecting their waterways or sphagnum bogs from water spoilage and erosion.
The issue has been debated extensively. Cattle now no longer graze in the national park and the cattlemen received financial compensation.
Its time to move on!
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