2011/03: Should cattle have been returned to the Alpine National Park?

Introduction to the media issue

Video clip at right:
A promotional video from supporters of grazing in the Alpine National Park. (This should be treated as comment). If you cannot see this clip, it will be because video is blocked by your network. To view the clip, access from home or from a public library, or from another network which allows viewing of video clips.

What they said...
"The unique sphagnum moss peat beds and wetlands of the Alpine National Park. are threatened by cattle grazing"
Matt Ruchell, executive director of the Victorian National Parks Association

"The last thing you want to do is to damage that environment"
Mark Coleman, president of the Mountain Cattleman's Association of Victoria

The issue at a glance
On January 12, 2011, it was reported that cattle had been returned to the Alpine National Park. The cattle were the first of an anticipated total of 400 to be permitted to graze in the Park. Their return is part of a trial to determine whether by feeding on vegetation in the Park they serve to reduce the fire risk.
Victoria's Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, stated that the trial would provide evidence as to whether cattle-grazing lessens bushfire risk through fuel reduction. The trial will run for six years, after which a decision will be regarding the appropriateness of returning cattle to the Park permanently and in larger numbers.
The move has been criticised as dishonest and unnecessary by a range of environmentalists. It has also been criticised by the federal government which is concerned that the Victorian Government did not consult the federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities before it re-introduced cattle to the Alpine National Park.