Save Redwood

Toowoomba Regional Council has continued to pursue the development of mountain biking tracks despite significant concerns raised by locals.

One local who has lived in Prince Henry Heights for 42 years has described witnessing how the gradual clearing of bushland over this time has impacted negatively on local wildlife. Their yard which was once full of koalas, bandicoots, goannas and 40 different species of bird, is now void of wildlife activity. The development of mountain bike tracks in Redwood Park will continue the disappearance of local wildlife.

Over the years Friends of the Escarpment (FEP) have spent many hours clearing the park of invasive weeds including Pivet and Lantana so that native trees and plants can flourish. If Mountain Bikes come into the park, they will unwittingly carry on their wheels many seeds which will again lead to the spread of these invasive plants. Introducing Mountain Bikes into Redwood park would restrict the activities of volunteers wanting to work in the park and community members wanting to bushwalk. This has already been seen in Jubilee Parks where the speeds of bikes travelling down the trails make it unsafe for other visitors to walk around the park.

These concerns were raised in a letter to Mayor Cr. Paul Antonio. A response was provided on behalf of the Mayor by Michell Condren the Manager of Parks and Recreation Services. The response included references to the environmental assessment of Jubilee and Redwood Parks which is expected to be completed by December 2021. The first stage of the assessment saw the engagement of Redleaf Environmental, ‘focusing on flora survey desktop and field work, along with undertaking key stakeholder consultation with local environmental groups/ key personnel to obtin local knowledge of the parks’ environmental values (flora and fauna), to support/inform their work’.

Mr Condren also wrote;

‘Immersing yourself in natural settings is part of the experience and appeal for mountain bikers (not dissimilar to bushwalking, birdwatching and other recreational pursuits in such areas), and so no-one, including mountain bikers, would be interested in, intending to, or permitted to undertake any trail development that would damage the natural values of a natural area such as Jubilee Park, Redwood Park, or any other natural setting or bushland area.’

This response is concerning as it compares the activity of mountain biking to that of bushwalking and birdwatching. Mr Condren stated that ‘no bushland parks are available for exclusive use by any users, mountain bikers or otherwise’. While this statement sounds inclusive, it is dismissive of the impact that mountain biking has on the environment and other park users. The speeds and distances covered by mountain bike riders are significantly higher than those who are on foot. Meaning their impact on the environment is much higher than walkers. Additionally, if these tracks are utilised for mountain biking carnivals, the noise levels will increase scaring away many of the timid species that are currently residing in Redwood Park. It is hoped that any proposed mountain biking tracks will be developed in areas which are not home to significant populations of vulnerable plants and animals.

DDEC will be watching the progression of this proposed project with invested interest. We will continue to work alongside local groups to facilitate discussions with the Toowoomba Regional Council to work towards a development strategy which will ensure the ongoing preservation of our region’s environmental assets.

If you would like more information on the campaign to Save Redwood Park, you can follow SAVEREDWOODPARK on twitter, or come down to the Koala TeaTree tent at the Toowoomba Farmer’s Markets on June 5th to chat to the Save Redwood volunteers.

Koala TeaTree Tent

The Koala TeaTree Tent “pops up” at the Toowoomba Farmers Markets on the first Saturday of every month. Run by DDEC member group the Dancing Bear Cafe, the tent hosts a different local environmental group every month and raises money for fodder farms for koalas.

“Fodder Farms” are pruned gums. They are kept at a low height to maximise leaf production which will assist our local carer’s in the future when they need to collect leaves to feed their injured/recovering koalas. Presently, busy carers have to drive quite a distance to obtain food for their patients. We plan to have Our immediate goal four acres under plantation, in four different local locations producing worthwhile quantities of Koala leaf in about three – four years.   Tree plantings for the fodder farms are on pause at the moment, mainly due to the time of year, but all profits from the stall now and into the future will go to funding leaf trees.

The environmental groups hosted by the Koala Tea Tree Tent help are raise awareness around their cause as they  sell koala shaped biscuits, cake tea, and t-shirts. The first tent in March saw members of P.R.O.T.E.C.T bring their resources and enthusiasm to protect the trees within the Toowoomba region. April was the newly formed local Wilderness Society.  In May, the Toowoomba Branch of Renew displayed their electric cars, electric bikes and shared their knowledge on how to live a more sustainable life. On June 5th,  Save Redwood will be at the tent to discuss the impact that the proposed mountain bike tracks will have on the regenerated wildlife habitat at Redwood Park. 

There’s a number of ways you can get involved in supporting the Koala TeaTree Tent. Firstly come to the Toowoomba Farmer’s Markets the first Saturday of the month to buy some biscuits, cake, tea or a t-shirt. If you’d like to volunteer at the stall or if your community group would like to be hosted, we’d love to have you! Email catrina@ddec.org.au and she will connect you with The Dancing Bear cafe.

Rally For Redwood

On the 27 March 2021, a rally was held at Redwood park to raise awareness around the negative impact that the proposed mountain bike track and associated activities would have upon the Redwood eco-system. Over 60 representatives from local ecological groups and members of the public attended the rally.

Redwood Park contains the last remnant dry rainforest in the Toowoomba region after every other remnant dry rainforest was destroyed by development. Redwood Park covers 243 hectares of bushland which is made up of grey ironbark, brushbox, river oak, birds nest ferns orchids, Moreton Bay fig, Broomstick wattle, blue gum and grass trees. This vegetation is home to a diverse collection of animals including goannas, white headed pigeons, brown cuckoo doves, eastern yellow robins, double bar finches, eastern whipbirds, scrub turkeys, Rufous fantails, and black-breasted button quail.

While all the animals residing in the Redwood Park are valuable, it is significant to note that the black-breasted button quail has only recently reappeared in the park. These birds are unable to fly, are quite shy and their inability to quickly get out of the way makes them extremely vulnerable to mountain bikes speeding through the park.  

Part of the concerns raised by community members attending the rally was the inconsistency between the proposed mountain bike track and festivities within the park, against the Toowoomba Regional Council’s Green Infrastructure Strategy (GIS).

Toowoomba’s Green Infrastructure Strategy (GIS) sets the direction and initial actions to support a step change in how green infrastructure is valued, protected and enhanced across the Toowoomba Region so that it becomes business as usual in the near future. (p.7)

Any kind of step-change in the way we do things requires more than just funding a few projects. It requires a shift in mindset, a change in expectations, commitment to collaborate and a long-term investment in building both the knowledge and the will to deliver better outcomes. (p.23)

The GIS goes on to state that ‘our natural setting is unique and a strong part of our identity and needs to be both protected and celebrated’. (p.15).

If the council approves the mountain bike track, they will be acting in opposition to the GIS. They will not be showing that they value or will actively protect or enhance green infrastructure. The approval will devalue the forest and endanger the ecosystem. If Redwood Park is really a part of our identity which needs protection and celebration, TRC should act protectively and dismiss the mountain bike proposal.

DDEC agrees with the attendees of the Redwood Park Rally. We believe that Redwood Park is a valuable asset in the Toowoomba region. We recognise that a mountain bike track through the park would destroy much of the vegetation, expose the area to increased pollution and threaten many of the vulnerable birds which are currently thriving within the park. DDEC calls on the Toowoomba Regional Council to act in accordance with the GIS and find another more suitable area for the mountain bike track.