Chance to shape na­tional park

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY COLIN MACGILLIVR­AY

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.”

On­go­ing di­a­logue

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.

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