Conservation downside to MTB boom!
Mountain bike boom could have conservation downsides for unique Mt Canobolas
Posted on 04.09.2018
Central west NSW is stepping it up in the global mountain biking tourism boom with a proposal for a trail in Orange, but it could endanger its natural beauty through a lack of conservation research.
With Derby, Meydena, Mount Buller and Falls Creek well established in the global mountain biking tourism boom, central west New South Wales is stepping up with a proposal for a 63-kilometre trail network on Orange’s Mount Canobolas.
Seen as a silver bullet by regional councils, a burgeoning number of local government authorities are building trail construction into their master plans.
But are all sites created equal?
And could the promise of dazzling economic benefits mean that environmental and conservation considerations are overlooked in the name of commerce?
Largely unknown, unique ecosystem
A 1672-hectare state conservation area (SCA), Mt Canobolas is part of an ancient chain of volcanoes known as the Brigooda-Oberon.
Its eruption 11 million years ago created the distinctive undulating hills of the central west and gave the region its rich, fertile soil and altitude.
The mountain is a subalpine ecosystem isolated from its volcanic siblings by 85 kilometres, meaning its ecosystem has developed in complete isolation.
There are nine species found only Mt Canobolas that are currently known to scientists, and the rarest plant in New South Wales — the Giles mintbush — occurs in two areas of the mountain.
Dr Richard Medd, a former government ecologist, said he had grave concerns for the proposed trail development’s ecological consequences.
He said the ecosystem is largely not understood and lacking any close research.
“There’s species we know about which aren’t named yet. It’s an incredibly important area of conservation and fundamental research,” he said.
Orange trail could see year-round action
Current sentiment among supporters of the trail refer to the climate in Orange lending itself to year-round use of the trail.
Mountain bike professional and trail advocate Rodney Farrell describes Orange as “the golden ticket” due to its climate and complementary tourism industries such as wineries and restaurants.
“Our climate’s good for 360 days a year. There’s probably going to be five [days] where you might not want to go up there”
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