Murdoch University sustainability lecturer Nicole Hodgson describes the central core of Mt Hallowell reserve as precious unlogged, long unburnt forest. This was mostly karri, jarrah, marri, sheoak, and more than 100 other plant species.
Home to many animals and more than 70 bird species, some in the reserve were critically endangered like the Carnaby’s and Baudain’s cockatoos.
There were also remarkable granite areas throughout the reserve that were culturally significant to Noongar people and had concentrations of ancient rare species which were easily damaged.
“It is only a small reserve, but it is still a remarkably healthy and vital ecosystem, mostly because it has been so little disturbed by humans,” Ms Hodgson said.
“So little of our original vegetation in WA is secured in conservation reserves, and what is reserved is under pressure from a range of threats like climate change.
“And so, protecting the integrity of any intact area of vegetation is vital for broader ecological health and should be our major priority as a community.”
New trails through a reserve created substantial extra edges of disturbance and impact key ecosystem functions. The bush became fragmented, ﬂora and fauna become isolated, animal pathways were disrupted, and the new trails became a way for weeds and disease and feral animals to be introduced.
“This vital thriving place is loved by so many people in the community, the majority of whom have clearly said ‘please keep mountain bikes out to minimise the disturbance here, to maintain the ecological health of this place for the future’,” Ms Hodgson said.
This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 27 October 2022.