Calls for secured forests

Northern Forests Community Initiatives Group chairperson Greg Boston.

Northern Forests Community Initiatives Group chairperson Greg Boston.

The state government has been given a clear mandate to secure existing recreational trails, huts and associated facilities at Bundaleer and Wirrabara forests as Greenways when the forests are sold.

That’s the view of Bundaleer Forest Community Areas Association interim chair Greg Boston.

“State government asked for feedback on the Your Say Greenways and the community responded with 320 comments plus an unknown number of emails,” Mr Boston said.

“The depth and consistency of feedback from the public on the Your Say Greenways site is most definitely a mandate to state government to fully secure all existing recreational trails and associated community areas of Bundaleer and Wirrabara Forests as Greenways when this land is sold.”

Mr Boston said the Greenways feedback highlighted to state government the huge value locals and visitors placed on the community areas and historic importance of both forests.

“The feedback showed just how passionate people are about preserving their access to these forests for recreation and tourism and preservation of their history.

“The feedback should be a clear indication to government the current Greenways proposal is unacceptable and that they need to come and meet with the local community representatives and the Heysen and Mawson Trail volunteers to come up with the best version of a Greenway for all time.”

Mr Boston said state government had made the community areas of both forests available to the public for 140 years.

“There is an obligation for government to ensure these facilities remain open to the public after the forests are sold and to continue to provide indemnity for public injury as well as basic maintenance and signage,” he said.

“This is a relatively small cost to state government but provides substantial flow on economic benefits for the local towns.”

With local communities demonstrating a willingness to make improvements to the public areas, there is great potential to expand tourism opportunities and provide much needed economic growth for these regional areas.

Mr Boston said the Bundaleer Greenway Proposal did an excellent job of covering the historic forestry assets, the overnight accommodation and the Conservator’s Trail and picking up some beautiful scenery.

“However, the Bundaleer Greenway falls far short of community expectations, failing to secure some of the most important community areas such as the Bundaleer Picnic Ground and three of the four recreational trails.

“It also has removed the most scenic part of New Campbell Hill from the Heysen Trail without the support of the Friends of Heysen Trail, who preferred a spur loop into the Bundaleer Picnic Ground and retaining the existing network of recreational trails.

Mr Boston said he had written to ministers Leon Bignell and Geoff Brock expressing these concerns and seeking a meeting with both ministers on site to resolve matters in the most efficient way possible.

Wirrabara haze

Meanwhile, the Wirrabara Greenways Proposal has caused great uncertainty and confusion among locals, according to Margo Blesing.

“There has been a huge lack of information and mapping about what land will be privately owned and what will be government owned (in which case the Greenways doesn’t come into play),” she said.

“We need to see a map that shows what land will be privately owned to be able to comment on whether the Proposed Greenways are adequate.”

Wirrabara’s Anne Brown said she had been advised by email that Wirrabara picnic areas and campground, the old nursery, The Range, and Spaniards Gully were to continue in state government ownership, and thus public access would continue in these areas.

“However, there are some significant recreational trails that are outside this area, such as the Mt Ellen recreational trails and the King Tree Paddock,” Mrs Brown said.

“These areas definitely need to be Greenways to ensure that the recreational opportunities are maintained within the Southern Flinders. 

“Once that information is provided some meaningful consultation can be carried out with the community, not just the token effort that has been done to date.

“Site visits and more public information sessions are required to enable those of our community who cannot access the internet and who cannot comprehend that a public asset that has been part of our community for 140 years will no longer be available to use.

“We need more information and the government needs to give us answers.”