The NSW Greens Party has thrown its support behind those opposing Orange City Council’s proposal to put a 70km bike trail in the conservation area of Mount Canobolas. During a visit to Orange and the mountain on Sunday and Monday, Greens MP for the NSW Legislative Council Cate Faehrmann slammed the bike trail development as “absolutely preposterous”.
“Mount Canobolas is a really, really special place. It’s so unique and must be protected…. I’ll be calling on the Minister [for Energy and Environment] Matt Kean to immediately declare the area an area of outstanding biodiversity value,” she said. “This unique area… [is] directly under threat right now from a development that will see mountain bike trails through some of the most sensitive areas in the state. I was up there yesterday and I heard about the beautiful endemic species… [and] the amount of threatened species… I mean, it is a tourism draw card that frankly isn’t talked about enough.
“There’s a dozen or so… species of orchids that are found nowhere else. Mountain bike riders might go ‘you know, it’s only an orchid’, but it’s the only place it exists in the world.”
The Greens MP rubbished council’s argument that “wide buffers” would protect any ecologically sensitive areas in the conservation area, as well as those with cultural and historical significance to the Wiradjuri people.
On Monday, Ms Faehrmann reiterated the Canobolas Conservation Alliance’s assertion that the state forest was a better alternative for the trail than the conservation area. However, Orange councillor and mayoral candidate Jason Hamling previously told the Central Western Daily that the track’s infrastructure would have to be rebuilt every 30 years when the forest’s pine trees were completely logged. Cr Hamling also said that a bike track network through the State Conservation Area instead of the state forest would enable a weed management plan to better protect the conservation area’s biodiversity. Ms Faehrmann called this the “most ridiculous justification for not having a mountain bike trail in state forest that I’ve ever heard”.
“[Are] we really okay with putting another few species on that extinction list because we prioritise mountain bike riders?” she said.
Report by Alana Calvert in Central Western Daily, 9 November 2021