Parks Victoria implores the community to allow the environment to recover from bushfire
Friday 21 June, 2019
Parks Victoria is calling on visitors to protect and support the recovery of the environment in fire affected parks following instances of damage, vandalism and theft at Bunyip State Park and Holey Plains State Park.
A single offender in Holey Plains State Park was recently issued with three infringement notices with a fine totally $644 for off-road driving, off-road motorbike riding, and for bringing a dog into a park. Within Bunyip State Park, Parks Victoria Rangers have reported signs of off-road riding and driving as well as the theft of eleven temporary gates, used to restrict access to protect areas trying to recover.
Bushfires severely burnt both Bunyip State Park and Holey Plains State Park this summer, with 60 percent and 85 percent of the parks impacted respectively. Despite the bushfires, the parks are important environments for threatened plant and animal species. The vulnerable Wellington Mint bush is native to Gippsland with most of Victoria’s protected populations found within Holey Plains State Park. Vegetation also provides essential habitat for animals such as the threatened White-footed Dunnart and Lace Monitors. Visitor activities can have a negative impact on how soon different plants and animals recover and return to the parks.
While the first signs of life have started to return with epicormic growth sprouting from buds along tree trunks, button grass germinating in the blackened, nutrient-rich ash beds and sightings of Greater Gliders and Powerful Owls, both parks are left exposed and susceptible to damage from visitor misuse. Off-road driving and riding can cause extensive damage to these environments and prolong the recovery and rehabilitation of the bushfire impacted parks.
Quotes attributable to Parks Victoria Area Chief Ranger, Bridget Grant:
“There are thousands of kilometres of designated tracks available for riding and driving across the state and we ask that visitors consider their impact on the environment and only ride or drive where permitted.”
“Damaging activities including off-road driving and riding will not be tolerated and fines of up to $806 will be enforced. We will investigate and prosecute people who do not respect our parks.”
“Parks Victoria is committed to conserving the environment for future generations to enjoy and protect it from threats. This sort of behaviour is unacceptable and puts more strain on the already vulnerable fire-affected parks and the recovery of threatened species such as the Wellington Mint Bush and the endangered Dwarf Kerrawang.”
“We urge those enjoying the great outdoors to respect any closures and the regulations in place to get the most out of their stay, avoid possible penalties and support the environmental recovery of fire affected parks.”