WATER CATCHMENT ACCESS NEAR PERTH
- from WalkGPS.com
The Department of Water (DoW) in 2007 published recommendations on water catchment access, which if left unchallenged, would in effect have barred walking within most traditional bushwalking areas within the Perth region other than along the Bibbulmun Track (see map). Walking in most areas featured on WalkGPS would have been labelled an "unacceptable activity" and traditional bushwalking across most of the region would have been consigned to history. Ironically this has been at a time when there is a great need recognised by the community and some W.A. State Government departments to encourage all Western Australians to walk more and to develop environments in which the decision to walk is easier ("Walk WA").
The DoW recommendations on bushwalking were inconsistent with its position on other similarly healthy, though more intensely 'off-track' activities within the catchments. DoW assigns to those similar activities a "Low" management priority and ongoing 'conditional' access. Meanwhile widespread State forestry and bauxite mining operations will also continue across those same catchments that were considered by DoW to be inappropriate for low impact, off-track bushwalking. See WalkGPS 'Parks, Reserves & State Forests' map (61KB pdf).
Bushwalkers and the broader community recognise the obvious need to protect drinking water quality, but they also expect our State regulators to show objectivity and balance. Desired levels of 'protection' should be rational, not totally disproportionate to actual or perceived risks to water quality. The 'precautionary principle', while very relevant to the issues of climate change, is now also widely cited by regulators such as DoW to justify excessive control policies. Internationally-respected applications of that principle recognise that a zero risk objective is unrealistic and unsustainable.
WalkGPS does not represent any lobby group, but I strongly urge any bushwalking groups or individuals to take an active interest in the ongoing issues to help ensure that sensible access is maintained for traditional bushwalking activities into the future.
- Dave Osborne
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This page was last updated : 07 February, 2013
Site authored by David Osborne. Photographs and text are copyright © 2003-2013 David Osborne.