OBI OBI ZIPLINE PROPOSAL FOR THE KONDALILLA NATIONAL PARK
SCEC was invited to participate in the famil to view first-hand a zipline operation in Tasmania . The following feedback was provided to the steering committee.
Note: SCEC's participation in no way indicated support or endorsement of the proposal. It was a 'fact-finding' mission to gain a better understanding of this activity to enable an informed position.
SCEC FEEDBACK ON THE HOLLYBANK ZIPLINE EXPERIENCE – LAUNCESTON 26-28 May 2013
The opportunity to experience the zip line at Hollybank first-hand was appreciated. I consciously approached the famil without any particular pre-conceived idea of the operation. It was well run, particularly due to the proficiency and friendliness of the guides. The activity suited the Forestry Reserve location and provided an outdoors, rather than an eco-tourism/nature based experience. The non-disclosure of the commercial interest of the proprietor in being a potential proponent for the Obi Obi operation was concerning (though soon obvious) and lacked the expected transparency.
While elements which may translate as an opportunity to “take in” nature for some people are offered, this could be provided in almost any bushland setting if carried out in an ecologically sustainable manner. The experience provided no justification to locate a similar set-up on National Park (NP)- in this case a NP in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland which is completely different in terms of its biodiversity, environmental sensitivities and amenity.
Due to the traditionally passive experience enjoyed by visitors to this NP (and the vast majority of Protected Areas) where people feel able to “commune with nature” (many unforgettable and personal “wow” moments), introducing this type of activity risks detracting from this valued experience. This could result in decreased visitation and disappointment from both the domestic and international markets that our renowned natural places have been encroached not only by infrastructure, but commercialisation. Shamefully, less than 5% of Queensland is National Park (compared to a national average near 9%). That is, more than 95% of the State is available for the development of true ecotourism facilities in locations that do not damage the resource that attracts 27 million visitors to our terrestrial National Parks alone, and over one billion dollars in spending annually.
As a region whose tourism and lifestyle advantage is underpinned by its natural beauty and diversity of land and seascapes, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and the region more broadly, could potentially accommodate this type of attraction, off park. Townships, including those already found in the Hinterland and others with appropriate characteristics and demonstrated need could benefit from a “gateway policy”. This way, accommodation and rigorously accredited eco-related facilities are situated in an entry or gateway community near or adjacent to our few, but world class National Parks.
While other appropriate locations should be considered and assessed accordingly, it is noted that the footprint of the zip line operation proposed in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Nature Based Tourism Plan 2009i did not have a footprint on the NP itself. However, there are obvious reservations about whether such proximity may still intrude (visually, environmentally & socially) on the protected area.
Essentially, commercial and niche preferences should not be pursued at the expense of natural and cultural assets. The integrity of the region’s irreplaceable biodiversity and the cardinal principle of National Parks for the conservation of nature must be paramount.
The opportunity to provide feedback at this point is appreciated. I look forward to doing so in future and to contributing to a robust consultation process. Naturally, do let me know if any clarification or elaboration is sought.
Narelle's participation in the famil was an opportunity to experience the operation first-hand enabling a more informed position on this proposal. In no way was this an indication of support or endorsement of the project. A community forum is being held on the 25th June 2013, for more info view the invitation to attend ZipLine
This feedback given to the steering committee is provided for your consideration. Please attend the meeting if you can and contact me if you want further information.