Roger Lembit, Convenor, Parks Management Committee

NPA has completed its submission on the draft Plan of Management for Mount Canobolas SCA published by NPWS.

Mount Canobolas State Conservation Reserve is a significant reserve in Central Western New South Wales. It is an important feature of the Orange District and brings economic benefits, including tourism. Its highest value, however, is for nature conservation. An extinct volcano, Mount Canobolas stands out in the landscape, being one of few subalpine ecosystems in central NSW. It supports a wide range of rare and restricted species, with the combination of the geology, location, altitude and biodiversity making it a unique natural wonder.

The State Conservation Area is relatively small for a conservation reserve, covering 1,672 ha.
The classification of this reserve as a State Conservation Area belittles its significant natural value. Arguably, this conservation area should be categorised as a Nature Reserve, and should be managed primarily to protect its natural values.

These natural values are under significant threat from climate change. Inland NSW is among the Australian landscapes predicted to be under highest pressure as temperatures rise, rainfall patterns change and higher evaporation dries our soils.

In this context great care needs to be taken about the future management of the reserve and the types of activities which are allowed and promoted.

In particular, the proposal to provide for an extensive system of mountain bike tracks across the reserve is antagonistic to sound management of the natural values of the reserve. The proposal, for 63 km of tracks and the development of a track head or ‘hub’ in the Tea House precinct, is gross overdevelopment and would pose ecological risks including loss of vegetation and associated fauna habitat, weed invasion, spread of soil pathogens, soil erosion and degradation of stream water quality. This activity should not be provided for in the Plan.

This concern has been shared by the Central West Environment Council who stated in their submission ‘Such a large development is clearly designed for competitions and would need considerable associated infrastructure. Increased traffic and trampling by spectators and accelerated off-track vegetation impacts under racing conditions would add to the environmental impacts’.

Instead of imposing a large and damaging development inside this significant reserve, an alternative location within nearby State Forests should be assessed.

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