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NPA at it again

hawkeye's picture

By hawkeye - Posted on 07 August 2012

The National Parks Association is at again, promoting their special brand of misinformation - this time in Brisbane's Courier Mail.

These guys know no shame, it seems. I've sent a letter off to the Courier Mail in response, but I guess the points for us are:
- the battle will be ongoing with these guys
- expect it, and not be disheartened when they continue to trot out their irrational rubbish
- keep "hitting the ball back" by pointing to the objective evidence that sustainable trails are all about water flow management

I view it partly as a game: hit me a ball, I'll smack it back Eye-wink

Hop fiend's picture

to quote John Elliott-"pigs ass"

Flynny's picture

Npa have been a part of retaining some of the green areas we now love. The hard liners among them are reluctant to embrace us but I think a lot of their members are aware that to stay relevant they need to work with other low impact user groups.

That said some member want every one excluded from some areas, walkers included and some areas left for minimum impact zero track walking.

Personally i agree that there are some areas that should have exclusions but there is some areas suitable for a wider ranges of trail development. Extreme, alarmist blanket statements are made mostly with the aim of finding a more acceptable compromise

Hop fiend's picture

his first paragraph states "a destructive trail will be built" !-where is his evidence?

hawkeye's picture

Without them and their activism, a lot of the green areas and aboriginal cultural sites we have - especially in the Blue Mountains - would no doubt have been lost to farmland, strip mining and other "uses" [shudders].

And I do agree there are some highly sensitive areas that people should be excluded from and others that are either inappropriate for mountain bike trails or too expensive in which to build sustainably.

What continues to disappoint though is the blanket painting by the NPA of *all* mountain bike trails as destructive and unsustainable by their very nature, as though they were somehow intrinsically different from foot trails on the same alignment.

As we know, and as the more moderate elements in the environmental movement know, it is simply factually incorrect. Having lost the argument on the hard evidence, elements in the NPA are now trying to sway it by turning public opinion with misinformation.

And I agree with RobbieO, it is another depressingly common example of News Group publications practice of dressing opinion as fact, but my letter was never going to get published if I took the journalist (using the term loosely) to task over his writing standards.

hawkeye's picture
It is disappointing to read National Parks Association president Tony O’Brien trotting out the same old misinformation. This and previous attempts to jawbone decisions by the National Parks services in both Queensland and New South Wales that were based on thorough investigation and evidence-based due diligence does the NPA organisation no credit.

The evidence is clear from overseas studies and local experience that mountain bike trails have similar impacts to walking trails. The main issue with any trail's environmental impact and sustainability is water flow.

When routed and constructed to internationally recognised best practice guidelines, such as those published by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), water flow is controlled and trails are sustainable, which the National Parks services’ examinations have confirmed.

In many cases in the US, NZ, and now also in South Australia, IMBA standards for trail routing, construction and maintenance have been adopted by statutory land management authorities for all their trails, including walking tracks and horse trails, because of their world’s best practice, least-impact, and least-maintenance results.

Far from being a disaster in New Zealand, national parks visitation rates are booming on the back of mountain bike tourism. Rotorua in New Zealand generates $7.37 million (NZ) each year from mountain bike trail tourism alone based on 2007 figures, and on anecdotal evidence it has grown significantly since then. NZ Prime Minister John Key announced in 2009 the NZD50 million “Great Rides” (Nga Haerenga in Maori) bike trail project, funded by the Ministry of Tourism, which is expected to be complete very soon.

Mountain bikers have been building sustainable trails in other areas with manager permission inexpensively. Success stories can be seen at Fox Creek WA, City of Mitcham SA, Glenrock NSW, Lysterfield Victoria.

The experience in each case has been that visitor numbers have exploded. This is exactly what is needed in order to promote and expand appreciation of our wonderful natural environment, but in some cases this success has put pressure on local volunteer trail maintenance groups.

It is our hope that National Parks Minister Steve Dickson has allowed realistic resourcing and flexible structures to provide for maintaining the trails effectively to avoid volunteer burnout.

I would encourage Tony O’Brien to meet with local mountain bike advocacy groups and perhaps attend an IMBA workshop as their guest so that he can see for himself the strength of our concerns to keep trails sustainable and protect the natural environment as we enjoy it.



Probably too long again, and toffee-nosed sounding, but we'll see how we go.

Simon's picture


I'm sticking up for NPA NSW here. As far as I am aware this is a different organisation so it's not the same guys. There is an umbrella affiliation for them, perhaps someone should hit them up.

We are now on good terms with NPA NSW. Also note that while we were battling here NPA Tasi from memory was promoting mountain biking.

For example of current relations please see mine and NPWS article in NPA NSW's summer journal on pages 23 to 26. This also includes an insert from NPA NSW referencing NZ and how well it's working which directly contradicts Qld's comments in the Brisbane paper.

hawkeye's picture

Thanks, correction issued.

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