Orange and the surrounding district is still reeling from the past week, when we experienced a major fire on Mount Canobolas for the first time since 1985.
Thanks to the efforts of our magnificent firefighters, the blaze was restricted to a much smaller area than last time, despite the hot, dry and windy conditions that prevailed for most of the week.
The tragedy, however, is that the fire burnt a large part of the Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area (SCA).
The Mount Canobolas SCA is the part of the mountain which contains a unique ecosystem and is home to a range of plants and animals that are found only in the sub alpine areas which are rare in Australia.
The fire has extensively damaged this rare environment. It will require a lot of tender loving care if it is to be eventually restored to health.
Mount Canobolas means many things to many people. Some of us love the mountain for the unique flora and fauna which is to be found there.
There are some of us who enjoy a walk along the mountain trails to connect with the natural world and enjoy the physical, emotional and relaxation benefits derived from interacting with the mountain environment.
There are also those who see the mountain as an opportunity to promote tourism and to create commercial opportunities.
Unfortunately, due to the fire which has burnt a significant part of the SCA, our mountain is no longer able to meet the many expectations placed upon it.
It will take some time to restore our mountain to health. This will require a recovery program that is based on sound ecological principles and developed and conducted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), which is responsible for the management of the Mount Canobolas SCA.
The recovery program should include actions to improve regeneration of plants, animals and threatened species, protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage, and repair to visitor infrastructure, such as walking tracks and signs.
For a recovery program to be successful, it will require appropriate funding and resources.
Finally, the NPWS will need the support of the many individuals and stakeholder groups for whom Mount Canobolas is so important.
We must all work together if our mountain is to be made well again.