Managing plants and animals in NSW alpine resorts
Native animals in alpine resorts
Resort areas have been set aside for intense snow-sport recreation; however, large areas of native vegetation remain intact providing habitat for many native animal species. Animal crossings have also been constructed within resort areas to provide movement corridors for small mammals.
Many of these animals have special adaptations to survive the snow including hibernation, seasonal migration and living under the snow. Some of these mammals include the mountain pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus), the broad-toothed rat (Mastacomys fuscus) and the dusky antechinus (Antechinus swainsonii).
Unfortunately these animals fall prey to introduced animals such as the fox, whose acute sense of smell allows them to dig through the snow to the inhabitants below.
Possums in the roof? Wombats burrowing under your foundations? Small mammals in the pantry?
Developing buildings inside a national park increases the opportunity for small mammals to take up residence. Most small mammals encountered in ski resorts are native, including the mountain pygmy-possum and the broad toothed rat, both threatened species.
It is illegal to poison-bait and snap-trap inside resort areas. However, lodges can reduce the presence of small mammals by blocking access and keeping food secured in animal-proof containers.
Should an animal's presence be unwelcome, then live traps (Elliot-traps) can be used to catch and relocate the animal at a suitable location.
Cat trapping program
Pest animals in alpine resorts
Pest animals in resort areas are a threat to native vegetation and prey on many native animals. The following pests are targeted in annual control programs to reduce their detrimental impact:
- fox control programs are currently implemented each winter during the snow season
- feral cats are controlled by treadle cage traps, with an intense trapping program conducted each snow season
- rabbit control programs are implemented in spring and autumn.
You can help to minimise pest animals around resorts by keeping all food and rubbish securely stored and preventing pest animals from occupying resort buildings.
Native plants in alpine resorts
Native plants in resort areas reflect the predominately alpine and sub-alpine environment. These include communities of:
- tall alpine herb field
- short alpine herb field
- dry heath
- wet heath
- bog and fen
- sub-alpine woodland.
Many of these communities contain plant species which only occur in the Australian Alps. Some of these threatened plants include:
- shining cudweed (Argyrotegium nitidulum)
- Kosciuszko buttercup (Ranunculus anemoneus)
- vickery's grass (Rytidosperma vickeryae)
- mountain plum pine (Podocarpus lawrencei).
In heavily disturbed areas, introduced plants (weeds) such as grasses and forbs often dominate the landscape replacing native plants and providing habitat more suited to pest animals such as rabbits.
Weeds in alpine resorts
Over 200 introduced species are known to occur in Kosciuszko alpine resort areas.
The large diversity of introduced species in resort areas reflects the intense level of disturbance associated with resort infrastructure, rehabilitation projects and planting garden ornamentals. However, of this large array of introduced species, six have been given priority and are controlled each year:
- milfoil/yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
- vipers bugloss (Echium vulgare)
- St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- winter cress (Barbarea verna)
- Russell lupins (Lupinus pollyphyllus)
- large rush (Juncus effusus)
In recent years there has been a noticeable increase in exotic perennial grasses. Research and monitoring continues to look at the best control options for this weed type.
See NPWS Alpine Resorts contacts.
Page last updated: 29 September 2011