Australia — ENVIRONMENT Minister Ryan Smith has defended the return of cattle grazing to the Alpine National Park, saying further investigation was justified into whether it could help mitigate fire in some areas.
Grazing was banned from the park in 2005 after a parliamentary taskforce received scientific advice that cattle damaged the alpine environment. But Mr Smith said the secretary of the Department of the Sustainability and Environment, Greg Wilson, had agreed that there was not yet enough evidence to determine whether cattle could help limit bushfire risk in parts of the heritage-listed park, other than the Bogong High Plains.
The Coalition last week allowed about 400 cattle to be introduced at six sites, making up less than 4 per cent of the park, under the banner of scientific research – a step it says fulfils a promise to restore grazing.
Mr Smith said a decision on whether grazing would be expanded would be informed by the advice of Sydney University agriculture dean Professor Mark Adams, who is overseeing the research.