I’m an environmental consultant. My job is to assess the impacts of development proposals on biodiversity values.
Most developments readily gain approval because, among other things, they would have negligible consequences for biodiversity.
This is because most developments take place on land that has already lost most of its original biodiversity values.
When I look around the Central West there is one area that stands out like a beacon as having the highest biodiversity values in the region.
You guessed it – Mount Canobolas.
I consider the Mount Canobolas SCA to be a uniquely rich biodiversity refuge that is only just beginning to be understood and which deserves the highest level of protection.
In my view there is no area in the Central West more deserving of total protection.
Needless to say, I don’t think the development of a network of mountain bike tracks on Mount Canobolas is appropriate.
What is so special about the Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area (SCA)?
Let me summarise as briefly as I can.
- It contains nine endemic species of plants and animals. That is, they occur nowhere else in the world and depend entirely on the SCA for their survival. This number is very likely to increase with more research.
- The SCA has 12 species that are listed as threatened. All of the endemic species would also qualify as threatened if they were nominated for listing.
- Two endangered ecological communities also occur.
- The SCA supports the only known occurrences of the endangered Mount Canobolas Xanthoparmelia Lichen Community, the only listed lichen community in Australia. It contains three species known only from Mount Canobolas and three others that are very rare nationally. It is very vulnerable to increased foot traffic on rock platforms and, of course, bike traffic.
- The vegetation of Mount Canobolas is distinctly different from anywhere else, particularly the rock plate heathlands.
- Mount Canobolas features high montane and sub-alpine environments that have been isolated from similar environments elsewhere for two million years or more.
- The isolation of Mount Canobolas as a land-locked high altitude island has led to the evolution of new endemic species and provides a last refuge for other endemic species that have become extinct elsewhere.
- At 1672 hectares, the SCA is the only conservation reserve on the Mount Canobolas volcanic complex and represents just three percent of the original area of soils derived from the Canobolas volcano.
So, as a professional environmental consultant, I consider the Mount Canobolas SCA to be a uniquely rich biodiversity refuge that is only just beginning to be understood and which deserves the highest level of protection.