KNP Conservation Gets A Boost From Volunteers

February 1, 2000 Tumut & Adelong Times

More than 35 student volunteers from several universities have signed up with the Nationals Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for a holiday break with a difference - braving the elements in the Kosciuszko summit area.

Volunteers are making a big difference contributing to conservation of the popular summit area in a range of project from rehabilitation of eroded area to collection of native seeds, visitor monitoring and surveys of native flora and fauna.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) soil conservation officer, Stuart Johnstone, said this summer's program is a continuation of a program begun several years ago. "The students receive hands-on experience and certification of the knowledge and skills they've gamed while working with us," said Mr Johnstone.

"Without the help from the students, we simply couldn't accomplish these tasks," Mr Johnstone said. "Much of the work is very labour intensive and this is one of the busiest times of the year for NPWS staff, with works programs, high numbers of visitors and often bushfires.

"The students learn about alpine ecology and have the opportunity to put theories learnt in the classroom into practice. "This program has already contributed over $120,000 in volunteer labour to projects in the summit area. Students have assisted in planting more than 60,000 native plants, collected more than 100 kilograms of native need and months of data about visitors."

Students have surveyed visitors at Charlotte Pass and the top of the Crackenback chairlift to gather information about visitors movements in the alpine area and how they are using infrastructure such as lookouts, information signs and walking tracks. This information will be very valuable to the NPWS in planning for future management of the area, including the location of new infrastructure and maintenance of existing facilities.

Students have assisted with revegetation works at a former quarry site on the old Summit Road, around the new composting toilet at Charlotte Pass, stabilisation of gullies and on the walking track from Rawson's Pass to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko.

To supply future revegetation works, they will begin collecting seed from native species in the summit area within the next two weeks and with one of the best flowering seasons in the alpine area for some years, it's set to be bumper harvest of seed.

Students participating in this summer's program are from the Australian National University, the University of Western Sydney and Charles Sturt University. The program of student volunteers has been partially funded by the co-operative Research Centre for Tourism at Griffith University.