Alpine National Park

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The Alpine National Park is a national park in Victoria (Australia), northeast of Melbourne. It covers much of the higher areas of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria, including Victoria's highest point, Mount Bogong and the associated subalpine woodland and grassland of the Bogong High Plains. The park's north-eastern boundary is along the border with New South Wales, where it abuts Kosciuszko National Park. [1]

The park has been increasingly affected by bushfires with lightning strikes starting large fires in January 2003 and again in December 2006, each fire burning over 10,000 square kilometres over a number of weeks. The largest fire previously was the Black Friday fires of 1939. While fire is a feature of most Australian ecosystems, some alpine ecosystems, such as Alpine Bogs and Fens, are susceptible due to the sensitivity of the component species. The 2003 fires created a mosaic of burnt and unburnt areas. In some areas where the 2006-07 fires burnt over the same ground, species and communities have struggled to recover. Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens have now been listed as a threatened ecological community by the Australian Federal government.

Unusually for an Alpine national park, for much of its history agricultural activity was conducted in the park, with quotas of cattle allowed to graze on the High Plains during summer. Australia’s alpine area was first used for grazing around the 1840s. Concerns about the environmental effects led various governments to remove grazing from parts of the alps over the next century. Grazing was temporarily halted in Mount Buffalo National Park in the 1920s and stopped altogether in 1952. Cattle were taken out of Kosciuszko National Park in NSW during the 1950s and 1960s due to concerns about the effect of grazing on water quality for the Snowy River Scheme. Grazing was also removed from Mounts Feathertop, Hotham and Bogong around this time, from around Mount Howitt in the 1980s, and from the northern Bogong High Plains, the Bluff and part of Davies Plains in the early 1990s, leaving about one third of the Alpine National Park – over 200,000 hectares – available for grazing. In 2004, the Victorian State Government made the decision that cattle grazing would no longer be permitted in this remaining area of the Alpine National Park. Grazing is still permitted in alpine State Forest areas.

When the Victorian state government (controlled by the Australian Labor Party) announced plans to end this grazing, the then federal government, controlled by a coalition of conservative parties who are the ALP's traditional opponents, floated the idea of using national cultural heritage powers (on the basis of the cultural place given to the mountain cattleman, notably through The Man from Snowy River) to override the state decision.

Cattle remain banned from the park, a decision which continues to anger representative bodies of the graziers [2]

On 7 November 2008 The Park was added to the Australian National Heritage List as one of eleven areas constituting the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.[3]

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