A new climbing body is pressing for a seat at the table when it comes to decisions about climbing in the Grampians and Mount Arapiles.
Mike Tomkins, spokesperson for the Australian Climbers Association of Victoria, said climbers had not had the opportunity to put forward solutions used worldwide in rock climbing management before Parks Victoria made several locations in the Grampians off-limits in March.
"We have effectively been shut out of this process in the Grampians," he said.
"Rock climbing is managed successfully the world over in sensitive environmental and cultural locations in South Africa and Europe, where there are areas with much greater density of rock climbers.
"We're doing risk assessments to decide which cliffs need solutions. Some might need to be subject to seasonal closures, revegetation or climbers might need to dispersed more evenly among the climbing sites. We're quite mystified why the land manager Parks Victoria are not allowing us into these processes to introduce similar techniques."
Mr Tomkins, who lives and works in Melbourne as an engineer, said rock climbers had not yet had the chance to meet with Traditional Owners in the region given they had not been invited to take part in negotiations.
On Friday, Parks Victoria extended by three months licensed our operators' permits to three areas of the Grampians' Summerday Valley area with several conditions. A spokeswoman said it had not banned climbing in these areas, but rather had begun more strictly enforcing restrictions it said had been in place since 2003.
ACAV, which has 800 members including some from the Wimmera, formed in April, and is set to elect its first committee later this month.
It followed a petition seeking to prevent the new restrictions coming in generating more than 27,000 signatures.
"The group was formed in recognition of the fact we don't have a statewide body looking into rock climbing access issues," he said.
"We hope to get a seat at the table in developing proper rock climbing management techniques. At the moment all we've heard from Parks Victoria is that we'd be considered as a stakeholder. In the past that group has simply been informed of changes happening in that park, and for such an important stakeholder with specialist knowledge of rock climbing that's not good enough."
Mr Tomkins said there had not been any serious clashes between rock climbing and aboriginal art in the Grampians in the 50 years climbing had been taking place there.
"Rock climbing is managed successfully the world over in sensitive environmental and cultural locations in South Africa and Europe, where there are areas with much greater density of rock climbers. So we're quite mystified why the land manager Parks Victoria are not allowing us into these processes to introduce similar techniques," he said.
"We consider ourselves a responsible group, and we have a very detailed knowledge of the landscape and where rock art is. Now there is a view there are places that have intangible heritage value we don't understand, and we also can't be told where they are.
"We're going to need guidance from the traditional owners being in this landscape, and we're seeking to walk with them on country in coming months, but we need to rebuild trust with them first."
Mr Tomkins said climbers had had some meetings with Traditional Owners through independently contacting them.
A spokeswoman said Parks Victoria had been working with Traditional Owner groups, tour operators, rock climbers and other key stakeholders in relation to rock climbing in the Grampians National Park.
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