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The alps

Alpine Ash sapling

What are alpine ecosystems?

The alps are characterised by granite and sandstone peaks with rounded mountain tops and plateaus.

The highest mountain areas support a rich mosaic of heathland, grassland and alpine bog communities.

At slightly lower altitudes these ‘treeless islands’ give way to subalpine woodlands comprising small, multi-stemmed, snow gums usually less than 10m tall.

Alpine facts

  • A mere 0.5 per cent of Australia is truly ‘treeless’ alpine.
  • Climatic conditions are harsh
  • Typically covered in snow for more than a third of the year
  • Plants and animals have evolved to cope with environmental extremes – low temperatures, high winds, snow cover for long periods and seasonal inundation
  • Many species are found only in the alpine area including several species at risk of extinction, such as the Baw Baw Frog, Alpine Water Skink, Mountain Pygmy-possum and Stirling Stonefly.


Alpine-adapted species are vulnerable to:

  • Climate change impacts such as changes in snow cover, streamflows and frequency of large scale wildfire
  • Weed invasion
  • Grazing by exotic animals and predation by foxes.

Where to find alpine ecosystems?

Find out more

Australian Alps National Parks – Comprehensive information about Austalia’s alpine national parks across Victoria, NSW and the ACT.

Deptartment of Environment and Primary Industries – Distribution map and information about the alpine and sub-alpine habitats found in Victoria.

Melbourne Museum – Alps in Victoria  – Information about some of the endangered species found in the Victorian alps.

Damaged picnic table at Holey Plains State Park Click to view the news RSS feed.

Vandalism at Holey Plains State Park

19 Nov 2015

Parks Victoria staff were disappointed to find one of the picnic tables burnt by vandals over the Melbourne Cup weekend in Holey Plains State Park in Gippsland. Parks Victoria’s District Manager Central Gippsland, Helen Dixon said the picnic tables are provided for people to enjoy this lovely bush environment for…

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