Chance to shape national park
Rock-climbing groups have welcomed public-consultation sessions that will help shape Grampians National Park management for the next 15 years.
Members of the public, including rock climbers, will have an opportunity to provide input on a new Grampians Landscape Management Plan in a series of workshops starting in Halls Gap tomorrow night.
Parks Victoria will use feedback from the workshops to develop the management plan, which will underpin strategic planning in the park.
Workshops and listening posts will be in Halls Gap, Dunkeld, Laharum, Moyston, Dadswells Bridge and Cavendish, as well as Melbourne, throughout September.
Parks Victoria chief operating officer Simon Talbot said the sessions would allow people to learn about the management-plan process, share their knowledge about the region and provide input on key decisions.
Mr Talbot said the more people had input in the new plan, the more accurately it would reflect the needs of park users.
“Since the 2003 plan was developed, fires and floods have dramatically changed the landscape, and the threat from invasive species of animals and weeds has grown,” he said.
“The number of visitors to the area, and the activities they undertake, has also changed, requiring new management strategies developed in partnership with traditional owners.”
Rock climbers have supported the opportunity for public input amid a continued impasse with Parks Victoria on the issue of climbing in the park.
Climbers were barred from large sections of the Grampians, also known as Gariwerd, in February because of concerns about damage to Aboriginal cultural heritage and the environment.
In June the Victorian Climbing Club, VCC, and other rock-climbing groups across the state announced plans to form a peak rock-climbing body to advocate for returned access to the park.
VCC vice-president Philipp Hammes said a majority of climbing groups in Victoria had signed a memorandum of understanding to form a peak body.
He said the public workshops represented an opportunity for residents of the region to make their voice heard.
“We’re trying to heavily promote it across all the clubs so everyone registers,” he said.
“I think Parks got a bit overwhelmed with the responses, which was good, and they had to add additional workshops.
“We really want to have as many people as possible have their say.
“It doesn’t have to reflect the club’s opinion, but we want to get a diverse community consultation.”
Mr Hammes said rock-climbing groups also had their own ongoing dialogue with Parks Victoria.
“With the management plan review, Parks Victoria invited a few sectors to a stakeholder reference group meeting,” he said.
“If you look at bushwalkers, it’s obviously Bushwalking Victoria, for the four-wheel drivers it’s Four Wheel Drive Victoria; we don’t have that peak body yet but there is some activity going on, which is good.
“Parks Victoria also got the climbing clubs involved in a climbing round table, which is independent from the stakeholder reference group.
“They invited pretty much every backcountry climbing and mountaineering club you can think of.
“It all went very positively I think, because Parks really wanted to know what were our concerns, what did we need, what did we want?
“Something we voiced, for example, was that we want to have more education from Parks, so we know what is appropriate and what is not.
“That has not happened in the past, ever.”
Mr Hammes said above all, it was important for all parties to be respectful of the Grampians landscape and its traditional owners.
“It’s not an environmental issue, this access crisis; we’re talking not a rare flower or some nesting falcon, it’s Aboriginal heritage,” he said.
“That’s sometimes what gets lost in the conversation, and the most important part is to always respect the traditional owners and to learn to listen and understand.”
The first community workshop will be at Halls Gap Centenary Hall tomorrow from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.
Subsequent workshops in the region will be at Laharum on Tuesday and Dunkeld on September 17, with a drop-in session at Halls Gap also on September 17.
Community listening posts – small, staffed stalls for short conversations – will be at Moyston from 8.30am to 10.30am on Friday, Dadswells Bridge and Dunkeld on September 11, Cavendish on September 18 and Halls Gap on September 22.
Workshop places are limited and people can register for workshop sessions by visiting website engage.vic.gov.au/grampians-management-plan.