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Snowy Hydro – Conservation in the Snowy Mountains (1955)


Produced in 1955 by the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity Authority (SMHEA) photographic unit (Harry Malcolm et al.), the film traces the history of soil erosion in the Snowy Mountains and demonstrates the approach taken by the Snowy Mountains Scheme to counteract the problem.

Curator’s notes

By the commencement of the Snowy Mountains Scheme in 1949, soil erosion had become a national problem due to large-scale land clearing, and the pastoral areas of the Snowy were no exception. A hundred years of repeated burning and clearing of the snow gum woodlands, combined with the effects of wind, ice and snow, had taken their toll.

The Snowy Mountains Scheme changed land use in the high country forever. The life of the alpine grazier, mythologised by Banjo Paterson, would never be the same again, but the Scheme brought its own set of erosion problems to the region, as conservation was not one of its priorities at the outset. The NSW Soil Conservation Service was able to persuade the SMHEA to implement a series of erosion control measures, which this film publicises, promoting them within the framework of the technologically advanced Snowy project. The latest conservation techniques were deployed and work was carried out systematically. In recent years, many of these methods have been supplanted by an emphasis on regeneration of native plant species.