THE long-awaited Manning Park Trails working group has been formed by the City of Cockburn and was due to commence meeting on Wednesday November 10.
Friends of Manning Park Ridge was formed to protect the ridge from action sports that threaten the natural vegetation, which is home to a vast number of different species of birdlife and other fauna that rely on Manning Park.
FoMPR welcomed the opportunity presented by the working group to collaborate with the range of park users, to finally rectify years of neglect of the precious remnant bushland that contains threatened species of flora and fauna.
However, it is disappointing and unacceptable that nominees with botanical expertise have been excluded from the outset, while others with tunnel vision for mountain bike riding or an eye on the, albeit dubious, business potential they think mountain bike trails present, have been accepted.
Also excluded, are people who have lived close to the park for decades who, through daily use, have become familiar with the ridge, experiencing the joys, tragedies, and changes over countless seasons.
It certainly gives the sense that the working group is just a placating distraction preceding an outcome that’s already been settled, and one that will result in even worse than a net zero benefit for the environment and the local community.
In talking to the general community, it is obvious there is an overwhelming support
of keeping Manning Park as a natural conservation area, as was expressed by ratepayers to the City of Cockburn at a special electors meeting in July 2021.
It is difficult to understand why this park is to be sacrificed for a privileged few sporting enthusiasts who have other mountain bike facilities available but want the convenience of having it on their doorstep.
All Beeliar Regional Parks (including Manning Park) have a passive user policy, such as walking, running, and conventional cycling.
Mountain bike riding does not fit the criteria as it is an intensive action sport which disturbs the peace and natural activity of fauna in conservation areas.
The definition for cycling trails in Beeliar Regional Park was meant for regular cyclists on sealed paths such as what the CoC has provided around Bibra lake.
In Australia, and worldwide, wherever there is mountain bike riding, problems with the environment are evident.
It’s a sport that doesn’t belong in conservation areas and requires specialised trails on large land areas. The Western Australian Mountain Bike Guidelines state that an area must be at least 250ha to accommodate mountain bike trails, yet this 90ha park has somehow been identified and selected by the authorities as suitable.
Trails are well known to increase the spread of weed species and disease as well as disturb the habitat of fauna living there.
As Prof Kingsley Dixon, foundation director of science at Kings Park Botanic Garden mentioned two weeks ago at a FoMPR public meeting, without a reduction in trails at Kings Park, conservation was under serious threat.
Consequently, King’s Park has constantly worked toward closing as many trails as possible to protect the natural environment.
Failure to prioritise conservation and rehabilitate Manning Park’s precious native bushland as part of any consideration of existing or future trails will ultimately result in the ridge being both degraded and desolate.
Without this, the very fauna and flora for which the ridge and adjacent Manning Lake are preserved under the Beeliar Regional guidelines, will no longer exist.
The need for natural spaces like Manning Park’s bushland become sharply evident during our pandemic lockdowns when demand on the park by people from all ages and walks of life pursuing passive recreation and respite, was intense.
As urban development increases, land managers should be investing in improving the health of these scarce places of nature and peace.
What a sad reflection it will be when future generations have to deal with the environment debt left by all those involved who refuse to see the clear benefit of a healthy bushland.