Alpine grazing back on agenda

The Victorian Environment Minister Ryan Smith says he will consider reinstating alpine grazing if a trial finds it reduces fuel loads with a minimal environmental impact.

Mr Smith last week sought approval from the federal government for a three-year trial in the Wonnangatta Valley, which could begin as early as January.

It is now being assessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Speaking in Baranduda yesterday, Mr Smith said he saw his responsibility as a land manager to reduce the spread of fuel loads and noxious weeds, as well as ensuring the safety of the community and visitors to the area.

“If we can assess that grazing does reduce fuel loads and maintains fuel loads, then we’d certainly consider using grazing more broadly,” he said.

“I believe we should use all the tools available.”

Mr Smith said while planned burning reduced fuel, grazing was useful to maintain it once the area had been burnt.

However, he said research must be done.

“If grazing can reduce fuel loads while having a minimum environmental impact, then I’ll consider grazing as a tool I can use,” he said.

Mr Smith was in Baranduda to announce $4.59 million worth of funding to improve vegetation in Victoria’s North East.

It will go towards a multiregion project delivered by the North East, Goulburn Broken and North Central catchment management authorities to invest in Central Victorian Box-Ironbark and Murray River corridors.

North East CMA chief executive Neil McCarthy said the plan would provide technical expertise, administration and fundraising support, training and development to local Landcare groups.

“It’s fantastic — one of the most significant things about it is that it has been developed with the community, rather than with bureaucrats,” Mr McCarthy said.

The minister also launched a North East Landcare Support Plan with $225,000 that aims to improve the health of the region’s land, water and biodiversity.

Baranduda Landcare’s Glen Johnson hoped the funding would provide additional support.

“It will maintain the provision of support to Landcare groups and enable us to undertake our priorities works to protect our environment,” Mr Johnson said.

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