Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Gondwana Link sends letter of warning

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A Letter from Gondwana Link to Premier Mark McGowan warns of the impact of mountain bike trails on the connectivity and integrity of the bush.

It also warns of the increasing fragmentation of ecologically valuable habitat. Mountain bike trails (and other high intensity trail networks) are described as fundamentally incompatible with the aims and goals of conservation.

Gondwana Link calls on the State Government to ensure that national parks and nature reserves are managed primarily for ecological integrity, and to ensure that high intensity recreation trails for sports like mountain biking are constructed only on already degraded land.

The letter explains how upland areas in the Great Southern are relatively rare in the flat landscape of South West, and that elevation is desired by mountain bikers.

However, the rarity of the upland areas means that they are extremely valuable ecologically and culturally.

The Mt Hallowell Trails Concept Plan includes an area which like other upland areas in the Great Southern contains rich biodiversity, areas of unlogged and relatively undisturbed forest, and is culturally significant to Noongar people.

In the middle of the reserve is an intact core that has limited environmental disturbance and so is of the highest biodiversity value.

The proposed mountain bike trails (Three Chillies Eight Phase) of 68ha intrude into 13 per cent of the intact core, with the potential of substantial ecological impact.

There is already extensive informal and unsanctioned trail development at the foot of Mt Hallowell, with no management or rehabilitation undertaken by the Shire.

This lack of management does not inspire confidence that the negative impacts of trail building can be managed in future, with the impacts of further informal trail development in the intact core of the Reserve a particular concern.

With the increasing recognition of how valuable upland areas like the Porongurup National Park and Mt Hallowell are for Noongar spirituality and biodiversity conservation, these rare, already threatened areas in the conservation estate should be managed for their primary purpose of ensuring ecological integrity.

Denmark Bulletin 27 October 2022

This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 27 October 2022.

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