Monday, March 10, 2014

Untainted National Parks

So what the hell is a National Park and why do we care if it is protected?

Well that's easy.

A National Park is an area where the natural state of the land is preserved and the plants and animals that live within the park are protected from external encroachment of developments which may affect the preservation of the environment within.

Or something like that.

In short - you don't build in it and the Government is keeping it safe from outside nasties.

It's a bit like parts of my Star Wars collection. They are inside a glass cabinet to protect them, but this doesn't prevent me from opening the case, cleaning it up a bit, having a look and giggling like an idiot at the wonders residing inside the bounds of the display unit.

We also have these great folks called Rangers who help to maintain the parks through planned pest eradication, be they animals or weeds. Rangers are kind of like the maid that a millionaire has at their mansion. Very little attention is paid to the work they do, but if they didn't do it, the consequences would be unpleasant to say he least.

The Alpine National Park is a region in Victoria which is one of the dozen or so national heritage listed parks in the country. It, and the adjacent Kosciuszko Nation Park, protect the woodlands, grasses, and bogs, in the sub-Alpine area of Australia. They also protect the creatures that live within these areas, some of which are only found in these areas.

Leadbeater's Possum, aka - Cutesy McPossumpants
The biggest threat to national parks is the invasion by introduced animals and pests, including noxious weeds. Cats, foxes, dogs - they all seem to find out native wildlife quite high up on the tasty side of the ledger, whereas weeds like blackberry thrive, much like how they do down the side of my frickin house.

Things eating other things, stuff growing over other things - circle of life surely? Survival of the fittest eh Darwin boy? Well no, because none of these things are native to the parks and the beasties within cannot, for example, necessarily fight off a hungry cat. After all, the entire purpose of these parks was to protect and preserve the native things that live there.

You know what else isn't native to the Alpine National Park?

What a beautiful sight, cows amongst the gum trees...wait, what?
Cows aren't native. Yeah I know, who'd have thunk it. They don't live naturally in our national parks. We don't have herds of majestic moo-cows roaming gracefully through protect plains.

Nope, cows live in a paddock where Mr & Mrs Farmer plump them up so we can eat them, or milk them, and then maybe eat them.

I have nothing against cows, I eat bits of them on a regular basis, but they have no place in a National Park.

And make no mistake, they aren't there for any moralistic crusade to rid the park of weeds. They are there because some farmers want to use the park to feed their stock.

"So what's wrong with that?" I hear someone ask. Well for starters, the environment of the Alpine NP is delicate, quite delicate in places, and Mr & Mrs Cow seem to have inappropriate footwear for their evening out.

Cows trample stuff - remember the phrase stampede? They weren't talking about wombats.
A lot of the delicate ecosystem of the Alpine National Park has been trampled in the past because of the cattle in the park. They also tend to eat a lot of the delicate ecosystem.

Tradition and a history of cattle grazing is not actually a valid argument for allowing the practice to resume. "More damage is done by bushfire" - well it may be more widespread, but it doesn't mean the damage is the same, and the reality is, if we could stop bushfires from devastating National Parks, we would.

"What about people stuffing up the park?" - Again, there are restricted zones and people are an integral component to managing National Parks. Awareness of our environment leads to a better understanding and appreciation of our various ecosystems. 

Not everything in the Park needs to be seen
(said the people standing in front of me)
I'm not going to get into the background knowledge I have regarding some of the grazing issues in the Alpine NP, suffice it to say, it is not a place for heavy, hooved, trampling eating machines which are only there cos the land is free and available.

It's probably best we preserve our Parks, not just for us to enjoy, but for everything that lives within the park to enjoy too. In order for a National Park to be worthwhile, WE don't have to be able to walk over all of it. The campsites and trails are there for us to have a taste of what the park is protecting, be it delightful views from lookouts or the animals that visit the carpark. 

It's not really for us, it's pretty much mostly for them.

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