Dr Alec Costin, an ecologist with more than 50 years experience in research and management of alpine ecosystems, was the guest speaker at Snowy River Alliance's annual general meeting in Jindabyne Memorial Hall on Sunday.
Dr Costin spoke about the future of the Snowy River and catchments and discussed the findings of the recently released 'Caring for our Australian Alps Catchments - A climate change action strategy for the Australian Alps to conserve the natural condition of the catchments and to help minimise threats to high quality water yields'. It is a technical report commissioned by the Australian Alps Liaison Committee and the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in June 2010.
One of the report's authors, Roger Good, was also at the meeting.Dr Costin (now retired) expressed concern about the state of the alpine catchment citing the findings in the 'Caring for our Australian Alps Catchments' report, that 60 per cent of the alpine catchments are not in a satisfactory condition.
Dr Costin said the estimated 12,000 feral horses in the Kosciuszko Nation Park were one of the most serious threats to the catchments. He said the horses caused serious damage to the swamps and peatlands vital to the catchments. The damage caused by the horses have the effect of draining the peatland and swamps which act as a giant slow releasing sponge into the river system.
The large audience heard about Dr Costin's vast knowledge of interrelationship of the water, soil and vegetation of the Snowy Mountains, the ecological impacts of high country grazing and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme.
The internationally renowned scientist also gave some interesting and amusing insights into his long career.