Page 304 - Week 01 - Thursday, 15 February 2018

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Motion (by Mr Gentleman) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.


MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.19): Earlier today Minister Gentleman tabled a response to a discussion we had had in the Assembly previously about mountain biking trails in the ACT. I thank Mr Gentleman for that response. I think that the material contained in it speaks to some positive developments in this space.

I welcome the efforts made to address some of the short-term issues where we have unfortunately seen forestry operations in our pine forest areas destroying mountain bike trails that have not only been built with considerable volunteer effort but also are enjoyed by many people in our community and that are a terrific recreational resource. The better communications and cooperation that have been put in place to help preserve trails and better manage the harvesting process are a welcome development and will be positively received by those in the mountain biking community who have been dismayed to see the destruction of those terrific facilities through the harvesting process.

I look forward to working further with the minister and my other colleagues on longer term solutions. I am concerned that the goodwill that has been built up here could be short lived. The simple moving on of somebody to a new job, when they leave a position and suddenly some of that corporate knowledge is lost, has afflicted this area before. New people, new contractors come into the game and some of that built-up goodwill is lost, not through any deliberate effort but simply through the passage of time. I would like to think that we might be able to formalise some of that good work into an operating protocol, some sort of MOU or something like that, a policy position that can ensure that over time we do not undermine the good work that has been done to get to this point.

We also need to develop a better understanding of the economic benefits of mountain biking and other recreational activities like it, and of the benefits that can come from our forests standing rather than felled. I am not suggesting here that these are unique ecological landscapes; they are pine forests after all. But I think the evidence is changing that the value achieved from harvesting is not necessarily as great as the value that can be achieved from recreation. I will quote from some comments that I have made earlier in this place.

Numerous other jurisdictions have done work to determine the broader value of their planted forests. Just one example is a study of the recreational value of a planted forest on the fringe of Rotorua in New Zealand, which estimated its value at about $5.2 million annually from walking and $10.2 million annually from mountain biking. The value of the mountain biking alone is actually five times the annual timber revenue from that forest. We need to do that same work here in the ACT, because if

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