Govern­ment ap­proves Won­nan­gatta graz­ing

Sixty head of cat­tle will be on val­ley floor within a fort­night for a three year trial

Mansfield Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By RHYLL McCORMACK

CAT­TLE will re­turn to graz- ing in the Alpine Na­tional Park with the ap­proval of some 60 head to be on the floor of the Won­nan­gatta Val­ley within a fort­night.

This fol­lows the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment giv­ing a green light to a graz­ing trial that will run over the next three years.

The trial was ap­proved by the Federal Min­is­ter for En­vi­ron­ment, Greg Hunt, last Thurs­day – pav­ing the way for po­ten­tially up to 300 head to be used in the sci­en­tific graz­ing study which cov­ers some 240ha (ap­prox­i­mately).

How­ever, Mr Hunt has placed strict rules around the graz­ing trial – in­clud­ing con­stant su­per­vi­sion, lim­i­ta­tions on dog and horse num­bers and the ef­fec­tive use of elec­tric fenc­ing to ac­cu­rately com­pare ar­eas that have been grazed against those ar­eas that are not.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Hunt, the trial “will com­pare the ef­fec­tive­ness and im­pacts of live- stock graz­ing regimes”.

Mer­ri­jig’s pres­i­dent of the Moun­tain Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria (MCAV), Char­lie Lovick, one of four lo­cal fam­i­lies per­son­ally tak­ing cat­tle into Won­nan­gatta, said the de­ci­sion would prove the cat­tle­men’s mantra of ‘Alpine graz­ing re­duces blaz­ing’.

“We are pre­pared to be judged, not by what we say, but what we do,” Mr Lovick said.

“The Won­nan­gatta has been grazed and man­aged by cat­tle­men for 118 of the past 144 years and is a cen­tre­piece in our her­itage.

“We left it in very good con­di­tion, but in the 26 years since we were re­moved, the Won­nan­gatta Val­ley, like many other parts of the High Coun­try, has de­gen­er­ated into a scrubby and pest in­fested state.”

Lo­cal cat­tle graz­ing fam­i­lies who will par­tic­i­pate in the trial, in­clude Mr Lovick, Bruce Mc- Cor­mack, Gra­ham Stoney and John Lovick – all of whom will be drov­ing the cat­tle to­gether into Won­nan­gatta on horse­back.

MCAV con­grat­u­lated the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment for its “courage and fore­sight in broad­en­ing the de­bate as to how the High Coun­try is man­aged into the fu­ture” - a view com­pli­mented fur­ther by Mr Lovick.

“The unat­tended build up of fuel loads in and around the val­ley have cre­ated a fire haz­ard that threat­ens vis­i­tors, neigh­bors, land­scape, habi­tat and na­tive fauna and flora,” Mr Lovick said.

“Con­ser­va­tion, as it has been prac­tised … is fail­ing.”

The news has also been wel­comed by Vic­to­rian Na­tion­als Se­na­tor Brid­get McKen­zie.

“Many Aus­tralians view sus­tain­ably man­aged cat­tle graz­ing on the high plains as an im­por­tant tra­di­tion and recog­nise it as a le­git­i­mate use of the Alpine area,” Se­na­tor McKen­zie said.

“There are many people who live in Vic­to­ria’s Alpine ar­eas and right across the na­tion, who value moun­tain cat­tle­men and women as pi­o­neers, as guides, as con­trib­u­tors to fire sup­pres­sion ac­tiv­i­ties, as skilled land man­agers and en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ards.

“Car­ing for and us­ing our nat­u­ral re­sources do not have to be mu­tu­ally exclusive con­cepts.”

PHOTO: Me­lanie Faith Dove Pho­tograhpy

FAM­ILY TRA­DI­TION: Three gen­er­a­tions of the Lovick fam­ily are cel­e­brat­ing the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to con­duct a three year graz­ing trial in the Won­nan­gatta Val­ley - a re­turn to their her­itage. Pic­tured is MCAV pres­i­dent Char­lie Lovick with...

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