Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Grazing proposal in Victorian Alpine National Park clearly unacceptable
31 January 2012
A proposal by the Victorian Government to reintroduce cattle to the National Heritage listed Alpine National Park in Victoria has been determined to be clearly unacceptable under national environmental law and will not proceed.
Environment Minister Tony Burke said after careful consideration he had accepted the advice of the Environment Department that the proposal to reintroduce cattle to the Alpine National Park would have a clearly unacceptable impact on the national heritage values of the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves National Heritage Place.
In December, the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment submitted a proposal to the Federal Government for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 to reintroduce up to 400 cattle to graze in the state's Alpine National Park for up to five months a year for five years, as a research trial.
Nine out of the 10 sites selected by the Victorian Government are partly or entirely located within the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves which was included on the National Heritage List in 2008. The area contains a number of important ecological environments.
Last year, the Federal Government made regulatory changes that formally recognise the significant impact of livestock grazing on the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves National Heritage place under the EPBC Act.
The regulation specifies that grazing of domestic stock including cattle could have a significant impact on the heritage values of the Australian Alps Heritage Area and that any future new grazing activities proposed in the Australian Alps Heritage Area, including the Alpine National Park, need to be assessed under the EPBC Act.
"My decision is based on a thorough and rigorous assessment of the proposal, taking into account the advice of my department," Mr Burke said.
"I have accepted the advice of my department that the proposed action of reintroducing up to 400 cattle would have a clearly unacceptable impact on the listed national heritage values of the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves National Heritage Place.
"The assessment has shown there is irrefutable evidence that cattle grazing would damage the sensitive natural environment, disturb the remote and wild character of the area, detract from aesthetic values, and erode its heritage values.
"While my personal views on this matter are known, in determining this decision I have considered only whether or not the proposed action would be in breach of the EPBC Act.
The Alpine National Park forms part of the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves national heritage place that was listed on the National Heritage List to identify and protect the wide range of nationally significant natural and cultural values found within it. The parks and reserves extend over the Victorian, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory borders and in total cover over 1.6 million hectares.