Parks Victoria mending fences to protect the past and safeguard the future

Thursday 2 May, 2019

Parks Victoria has built a fence around one of the oldest ecological monitoring sites in Australia, Maisie’s Rocky Valley Plot in the Alpine National Park, to allow the continued monitoring of the detrimental impacts of Sambar Deer and feral horses on the natural environment.

In 1944, pioneering ecologist Maisie Fawcett established Maisie’s Rocky Valley Plot. This fenced off area was originally designed to exclude cows and over six decades scientists, students and volunteers monitored the changes. In 2005 the cows were removed and so was the fence, but since this time Sambar deer have emerged as a new threat.

To protect the scientific heritage of Maisie’s Rocky Valley Plot, and continue to study the impact of large hard hooved animals on alpine ecosystems, the new fence ensures the Plot will continue to be one of the best reference sites in Australia for assessing long-term change in natural ecosystems.

Designed to withstand the rigours of the alpine environment, the two-metre high fence includes an innovative design to allow sections to be dropped in winter to prevent snow damage.

To minimise environmental damage while building the fence, Parks Victoria carried all materials into the site by hand and limited the use of machinery, instead using low impact hand-held devices.  The fence was built with the support of La Trobe University’s Research Centre for Applied Alpine Ecology.

This project was funded with the support of the Victorian Government.

Quotes, attributed to Parks Victoria Manager Regional Planning, Dan Brown:

“The new fence protects the sensitive alpine vegetation and wetlands within Maisie’s Rocky Valley Plot and safeguards the pioneering scientific heritage of this important site, allowing ongoing research and monitoring programs to help inform park management.”

Quote, attributed to La Trobe University Research Centre for Applied Alpine Ecology, Dr John Morgan:

“The new fence ensures the legacy of Maisie’s work is preserved, and offers an important reference site to continue to monitor change. Alpine ecosystems look like they will be exposed to more fire in the future, warmer temperatures and large exotic animals like deer. Just how this impacts on alpine plants and animals can be assessed by building on Maisie’s nationally significant work.”

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