Wood Fires at Arapiles
For many, on a cold night there is nothing better than sitting around a campfire. Although climbing into a warm sleeping bag is pretty tempting. Granted, depending on the size of your tent and the amount of friends you have, it’s probably not as easy to be so communal as the campfire option although I’m sure there are a few people who would debate that though!
To campfire or not to campfire – that is the burning question. With the recent announcement by Louise Shepherd that the Arapiles Advisory committee were going to recommend that the no campfire season be extended, there were a few unhappy campers voicing their opinions on Chockstone. While Chockstone is not the centre of the climbing universe by any means it can give you some idea of the thoughts that are out there in the climbing community.
CURRENT CAMPFIRE RULES AT ARAPILES
Light fires only in fireplaces provided. If possible, use a fuel stove.
Collecting of firewood is prohibited in the park
No Campfires between 1 Nov and 30 April
These are rules that have been in place at Arapiles for many years and are signposted
For those who don’t frequent Chockstone or do but missed the thread, which as a forum, can be very easy to do here is the announcement and some further response from Louise:
“This week the Arapiles Advisory Committee recommended that Parks Victoria reduce wood fuel campfires at Arapiles to 3 months annually: June to August. Previously wood fuel campfires were allowed for 6 months from May to October. The decision was made after 6 months of deliberation, and after hearing a submission from Parks Victoria on biodiversity values on public land. Parks Victoria officers pointed out to the committee that every scientific study cites a direct correlation between fallen wood on the ground with increased biodiversity. In a small park like Arapiles (1000 acres), firewood gathering has an enormous impact on biodiversity – birds, reptiles, invertebrates and flora.”
Regarding Arapiles, it’s visitor use and visitor habits: Arapiles is a very small park (1000 acres). There are a large number of visitors (80,000 visitor days/year). A large proportion of those visitors collect wood from the park (despite regulations stating that firewood must be brought into the park). Many visitors have inappropriately large fires with firewood collected from the park. Many visitors make fires in the fuel stove only area, and create dozens of new fire places.
Regarding biodiversity: Western Victoria has only 15% of land set aside as public reserves. Most of those reserves represent a narrow range of EVCs (ecological vegetation communities), and many EVCs are very poorly reserved. For example, native grasslands and grassy woodlands have been 99.5% depleted from the original 2 million hectares of lowland grasslands of south-eastern Australia. Mt Arapiles has a small but significant remnant of native grassland and grassy woodland. Many grassland, grassy woodland and woodland species are in decline across western Victoria, including birds, reptiles, mammals, insects and amphibians. Biodiversity is compromised and depleted by firewood collection.