The impact of a proposed mountain bike development at Mount Canobolas to the environment and significant Indigenous sites will come under the spotlight on Sunday.
A community forum on biodiversity, hosted by the Central West Environment Council, will feature speakers from National Parks Association (NPA), Nature Conservation Council (NCC) and the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) on natural history and Wiradjuri culture, as well as recent changes to land clearing legislation.
The meeting comes in the wake of the release of a draft management plan for the mountain, which proposes a 63-kilometre network of trails in the state conservation area.
Wiradjuri elder James Williams will speak about the significance of the mountain to Indigenous culture.
“Certain sections are very specific to men’s ceremonies. Unless the situation is treated sensitively, it could cause destruction,” he said.
Mr Williams said the mountain needed to be considered as a whole, “not just where the bike tracks go”.
Environment council president Cilla Kinross said the draft plan was better than she had expected, given the mountain bike centre would still be subject to further assessment.
“But it’s still the thin edge of the wedge, and we feel it’s an inappropriate development in a conservation area,” she said.
Dr Kinross said due to the recent bushfire, it was essential wildlife surveys were completed based on previously-documented species.
“The implication could be that people say there’s not much up there when species will take 10 years to come back,” she said.
Dr Col Bower will present on the mountain’s ecological value from his fieldwork experience, while the NPA’s Roger Lembit will speak about environmental issues surrounding mountain bike trails.
Dr Kinross said land clearing across the region remained a concern, with 99 per cent of koala habitat now unprotected and confusion surrounding offsets.
EDO representative Jemilah Hallinan and the NCC’s Daisy Barham and Shirley Hill will speak on the issue.
The community forum on biodiversity will be held this Sunday from 10am-4pm in the Blue Room at Orange City Bowling Club.
Anyone interested in the future of nature in the Central West welcome to attend – RSVP by calling 6365 7651 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entry is by donation, with a light lunch included for those registering by Friday.
The draft plan of management for Mount Canobolas can be viewed here.