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General Climbing Discussion

Topic Date User
wood fires at Arapiles 16-Jun-2011 At 4:13:12 PM crazyjohn
I got an email from Louise recently and I don't think she would mind if I shared it:

Regarding Arapiles, it's visitor use and visitor habits:
Arapiles is a very small park (1000 acres).
There are a large number of visitors (80,000 visitor days/year).
A large proportion of those visitors collect wood from the park (despite regulations stating that firewood must be brought into the park).
Many visitors have inappropriately large fires with firewood collected from the park.
Many visitors make fires in the fuel stove only area, and create dozens of new fire places.

Regarding biodiversity:
Western Victoria has only 15% of land set aside as public reserves.
Most of those reserves represent a narrow range of EVCs (ecological vegetation communities), and many EVCs are very poorly reserved.
For example, native grasslands and grassy woodlands have been 99.5% depleted from the original 2 million hectares of lowland grasslands of south-eastern Australia.
Mt Arapiles has a small but significant remnant of native grassland and grassy woodland.
Many grassland, grassy woodland and woodland species are in decline across western Victoria, including birds, reptiles, mammals, insects and amphibians.

Biodiversity is compromised and depleted by firewood collection.

As you correctly observe, Arapiles is world class rock climbing destination. Decreasing illegal firewood collection will not diminish climbers' climbing pleasure.
I have noted that wood fires have been banned for some time at the camping sites at Whitewater Wall in Tasmania and at Frog Buttress in Queensland.
I have recently camped and climbed in both places, and observed that all climbers were supporting the bans.

Arapiles is the only home for untold numbers of plants and animals, whose survival directly or indirectly depends on dead wood on the ground.
Parks Victoria, the AAC and Cliffcare represent climbers who are proud to go climbing without depleting biodiversity at Arapiles. (Original was was typed in bold)
Basically, the whole argument rests on "wood collection decreases biodiversity and banning fires decreases wood collection therefore ban fires."

I have already given a long winded reply to this reactionary solution to a perceived problem using questionable logic. The AAC is moving from “gathering firewood decreases biodiversity” to “climbers at Arapiles are destroying the biodiversity at Arapiles by collecting firewood and therefore recreational use needs to be curbed” and this is excessive and unsubstantiated. My main point was that biodiversity is not the only concern of the park. Camping in the recreational zones is a priority and fires in those zones are a big part of recreation.

She asserts that "many" people collect wood. This is contentious. However, the giant hole in the move to ban fires is that absolutely nothing else has been attempted to curb the collection of wood. In the last two weeks there have been dozens of suggestions and a great deal of discussion about the perceived problem of wood collection and what to do about it. Supposedly the ‘committee’ sat around dismissing out of hand all of the ideas chockstoners came up with , not to mention even coming to the very contentious decision that biodiversity is being threatened at some disastrous level enough to take the extreme and final measure of increasing the ban. (Those who are saying we should be happy they are even letting us camp there, please come back to reality.)

Also the bold emphasis was from the original. I think its clear she is making an ‘us against them’, fire ban-conservationist-park saving-climbers, against the rest. No discussion is asked for. No dialogue. No involvement with the users of the park. The AAC speaks for all “biodiversity non-depleting climbers” (whoever they are!) Cliffcare and supposedly Parks Victoria! What she is saying is “don’t bother trying to stop us, we represent everyone who matters and we have already made the decision no matter what you think”.

Well, just the way this whole thing went down gives me a sour taste. This is the process for permanent changes made to the best climbing camp in the world? I am sending in a petition to Parks Victoria to challenge this proposed ban. The Arapiles Advisory Committee is wrong in this matter and they went about pushing their environmental agenda in a belligerent manner that I hope they won’t affect in the future.

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