High Country Ecosystems - Protect Our Winters Australia

High Country

Ecosystems

High Country Ecosystems

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Climate change is already impacting high country ecosystems by increasing the presence of weeds and invasive animals, changing the composition of vegetation communities, altering the timing of flowering and migration events, and changing soil and hydrology.

Climate change impacts are projected to worsen, threatening the extinction of unique species and causing ecological transformation.

Bushfires will become more frequent and severe due to increased temperatures, reduced precipitation, and changes in vegetation. Bindoff et al. (2016) project that under a high emission scenario by 2100 ‘Total Fire Ban’ conditions will have increased by at least 75% and four times as much fire suppression work will be required.

Changes to high country ecosystems have implications for the entire Australian Alps social-ecological system, impacting, impacting alpine tourism, regional communities, hydroelectricity production, inflows to the Murray-Darling Basin, carbon sequestration, and First Nations.

Section Contents

  • Fauna
    • Mountain Pygmy Possum
    • Bogong Moth
    • Southern Corroboree Frog
    • Baw Baw Frog
  • Flora
    • Alpine Ash
    • Snow Gum
  • Bushfires
  • Soil
  • Adaptation options for high country ecosystems
  • ‘No Regrets’ Actions
  • Novel or transformative climate adaptation responses

Summary

The Australian Alps provide essential ecological services that greatly benefit the Australian economy, from providing plentiful, high-quality water for hydroelectricity generation and the Murray-Darling Basin, to enabling alpine tourism that supports local jobs and communities.

The complex and interconnected nature of high country ecosystems makes their management under climate change challenging, but is essential to preserve environmental, social and economic values in the Australian Alps.

Recommendations

Implement all “no regrets” actions, with long-term,
stable funding. These include:

  • Weed removal programs
  • Invasive species removal and pest management
  • Restoring peatbogs by reducing disturbances and
    promoting water retention
  • Adapting fire management practices
  • Replanting Snow Gum communities that were previously removed by grazing or fire
  • Conduct further research into the feasibility and desirability of novel adaptation responses

Download this section

This page is a summary of the ‘High Country Ecosystems’ section from the report Our Changing Snowscapes: Climate Change Impacts and Recommendations for the Australian Alps.

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Protect Our Winters Australia acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land upon which we live, work and play. We pay respects to the Elders, past, present and future, across the many Nations. Their ancestral ties to country have never been extinguished, and sovereignty never ceded.

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