More than 100 four-wheel driving enthusiasts and members of coast care organisations came together last weekend to discuss effective off-road vehicle management in our fragile coastal environment.
Coordinated by the Conservation Council of WA and supported by NACC, the two-day Tending the Tracks workshop included visits to off-road vehicle “hotspots” and a forum discussing best practices and solutions that would contribute to sustainable coastal land management in the Northern Agricultural Region.
Members of the prominent WA 4WD group Track Care were in attendance, as well as representatives from the WA 4WD Association and various metropolitan 4WD clubs.
The key outcome from the event was mobilising the considerable enthusiam and willingness of members of the off-road vehicle community to actively participate in minimising and managing the impacts of their favourite activity when visiting our precious coastlines. The challenge now is to direct that enthusiam into long-lasting, on-ground actions.
Getting a birds eye view of #coastal dunes at #EdwardsislandPoint #Lancelin during #Tendingthetracks #offroadvehicle weekend. #Coastcare @ConservationWA @NACC_NRM #trackcare pic.twitter.com/fwzzL9NW9S
— Hamish Longbottom (@HDLongbottom) January 14, 2018
Education, and influencing behaviour were identified as being two key strategies for effective management of off-road vehicle use. Helping people understand how they can enjoy our coastlines without causing harm was agreed by all as a high priority.
NACC Coastal and Marine Project Coordinator Mic Payne said that on-the-surface, “conservationists and four-wheel drivers made for strange bed-fellows”, and yet they had much in common about the coastal environment.
“It was very refreshing to be surrounded by four-wheel drive enthusiasts who are champing at the bit to assist with on-ground conservation and management,” he said.”The vibe was great.”
Bruce Brinkley from the WA 4WD Association reflected on past experiences at the forum, and said it was essential that effective management was applied in order to maintain access to tracks.
“If we don’t look after it, we won’t be allowed in it,” he said.
“Mismanagement of problem areas has sometimes led to track closures, but it often just shifts the problem elsewhere which can result in the formation of new tracks and further environmental degradation.”
Bruce said the Tending the Tracks committee will now work on developing a strategic plan of action for the off-road vehicle community to assist in protecting and managing the coastal environment that they love so much.
Dr Nic Dunlop, Citizen Science Coordinator at the Conservation Council of WA said State and local government’s struggled with the lack of staff and resources to effectively manage the coastal zone environment.
“This partnership between CCWA and the organised and responsible side of the 4WD community will hopefully provide opportunities to improve environmental outcomes and provide some assistance to the coast care groups and traditional owners currently striving to protect the coastal areas north of Perth,” he said.
The Tending the Tracks weekend was made possible through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.