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May 132014

Wayne Cameron of the Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C) at Carindale has been very concerned about the impact of mountain bikes on the environment for several years. He has written the following piece and is asking for more local support on this issue.

mountain biking erosion

Erosion from mountain biking

I am writing requesting your interest and possible email or letter to your local Councillor regarding the threat of mountain bikes to our nature reserves.

Mountain biking has its supporters, but we have had to live with the impact of this recreation in our nature reserves for several years. We have been involved in campaigns to protect the reserves – such as Mt Gravatt Outlook, Belmont Hills and Whites Hill.

The Mountain Biking Associations are well resourced and have stated they want full legal use of ALL Brisbane’s nature reserves. They already have large facilities at Gap Creek (Mt Cootha), Daisy Hill and a 2011 custom built 25 k of international standard trails and tracks at Wyaralong – all paid for by either ratepayers or Qld taxpayers.

Whites Hill has just had a warning from the usual young rider appearing in the local South East Advertiser, claiming no damage is caused by mountain bikes.

The damage caused by mountain bikes is substantial and the behaviour and safety issues are also factors. The damage caused to tracks is 20 to 1000 times that of walkers (Recreation Ecology: the Ecological Impacts of Outdoor Recreation – Dr Michael J Liddle, PhD, 1997).

Dangerous and illegal jumps created in Whites Hill in 2007.

Dangerous and illegal jumps created in Whites Hill in 2007.

Basically for us, if Mountain Bikes attain legal use to the reserves, they will create substantial trails and increased numbers of riders on the reserves and thereby the Nature Conservation and Biodiversity Primary Purpose of the reserves will become subservient to recreation use. Our wildlife needs these reserves to survive in Brisbane and that is why I am asking for your support.

It is, as usual, a numbers game – if the newspaper and Councillors get 100 replies and 80 are from organised mountain bikers – we will eventually lose these reserves.

Please consider helping us defend our nature reserves.

Contact Details (for an email support letter):
Cr Adrian Schrinner, Chandler Ward, 3407 1400 or (or other local councillor if you’re not in the Chandler Ward).
South East Advertiser, Editor:

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  14 Responses to “Mountain biking and its threat to local environment”

  1. Lol imma build as many illegal trails as I can until there are legal ones su suck it up sunshine!

  2. Whilst Gap Creek, Daisy Hill and Scribbly Gums are great facilities that I enjoy using I have to drive my bike to get to them causing unnecessary environmental harm. I can ride to Whites Hill and Belmont Reserve. Surely it is better to be able to ride to a local reserve?
    I have been reading a lot on the impacts of mountain biking and from my own experience I do not see it as much different from hiking/walking. If walking is permitted then so should riding. There should be no discrimination.
    I agree that safety is an issue that is difficult to manage. I always slow down when others are about be they on foot or bike. However, not all bike users are so considerate. I believe that trails should be segregated. A purpose built mountain bike trail is more fun for mountain bikers and would usually be built to new international standards for mountain bike trails by mountain bike user groups. That would help with the safety issue.
    I have been unable to find much information on the impact to wild life. If trails segment habitat then there should be no trails for bikes or walking. However, I do not see why a trail will prevent an animal from moving from one side to another. The reserves are already criss-crossed with fire trails and the do not seem to affect the wild life.
    It seems to me that much of the anti-mountain bike arguments are about preventing mountain bike users from enjoying the same access to the land as walkers. This is simply unfair.

    • Thanks for the input Emu. Let me know next time you go for a ride in whites hill reserve so I can call the cops in advance.
      Bushwalker that cares about the few wildlife left.

  3. Hi
    Interesting discussion
    To me it is a no-brainer to allow MTB in the local reserves
    As mentioned above regulation is the way to go and in my opinion would improve the erosion problems by having proper planned trails that work with the natural flows.
    MTB riding will continue weather it is legal or illegal and I myself ride Whites Hill and toohey forest at 50 years of age.
    It is an excellent form of exercise and social activity.

    If allowed local trail care groups would be formed and proper maintained trails would be build making it safer and better for the environment

    Just my 2 cents worth

  4. Patrick, you are more than welcome to come along to a lecture at my uni on soil erosion, it would definitely give you an insight into how precious soil really is…

    • Hi Sheamus,

      Thanks for the invite, much appreciated. Where can I find information about the lecture series?

      As an Ecology & Conservation Biology student, it would be great to hear your opinion regarding the environmental impact & management of mountain biking in Brisbane reserves. In this instance, is it preferable to have a poorly-enforced ban on unmanaged trails, or a regulated network of maintained trails?



  5. Dear Mr Bateman, your patronising reply is not surprising. While lecturing me on the ecological “facts” that are really your opions – you are promoting a vested interested in your personal experience and enjoyment in riding in Whites Hill Reserve. You go on to admit to an illegal activity you are happy to continue. You may be joined by other riders chancing their arm and flouting Council Local Laws, but don’t come from that position and lecture those who are fair dinkum about protecting our reserves – for the wider community to enjoy and our wildlife. As I have always said “Using Brisbane’s Nature Reserves is a privilege, not a right”. At 47 years old you are still young, compared to me and I am sure you have not been threatend by anyone from our sector – but we have by mountain bikers. If you want to continue with a public debate, then be my guest. While ever our nature reserves and the public interest are at risk – we will defend them.

    • Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for your reply, though I’m saddened to hear that you found my response to be a patronising lecture, rather than sincere comments from a fellow member of your community.

      Seeing as I’ve already raised your ire, I won’t bother dissecting your response, though I do take objection to the suggestion that I disguised my opinions & experiences as “ecological facts”. Likewise, your suggestions that I’m “happy” recreating illegally and that I’m not serious about preservation both serve to misconstrue my arguments entirely.

      To reiterate the crux of my argument (which you also failed to address), 10+ years of council-enforced regulation has not succeeded in deterring mountain bikers from riding in our local reserves. Given the significant demand for legal mountain bike trails within Brisbane’s nature reserves, as well as the precedent of successfully implemented Trail Care programs across SEQ, it seems clear that the solution is effective management, rather than banishment.

      I would genuinely love the opportunity to open a public debate on this issue & would be thrilled to engage B4C and BCC in a dialogue regarding the future of mountain biking in our reserves. Perhaps that would be a good opportunity for you to show me the official source of the mandate, “Using Brisbane’s Nature Reserves is a privilege, not a right”.



      • Dear Mr Bateman,

        Regarding your reply and the “crux” of your argument. I disagree that Council has not had any affect on deterring mountain bikers.
        1. Things are not perfect, but not every one is willing to breach local laws, so cutting the percentage of damage is a positive outcome.
        2. “Significant” demand has provided mountain bikers with funded facilities at Gap Creek, Bunyaville, Daisy Hill and Wyaralong. Although many taxpayers may not be so happy to provide this funding when faced with the damage of illegal mountain biking.
        3. Handing over Brisbane’s Nature Reserves to a Trail Care Program is not an option if the wider community wants to retain its reserves for conservation and the preservation of our wildlife.
        4. Your point gets down to this: Illegal mountain biking is a threat you are prepared to weild over the community and Council, by saying “We are continuing to damage your reserves, so it is better to hand them over to us and fund trail care programs in every reserve”. This is a great deal for Brisbane’s community – just give people damaging natural heritage their way and also fund their facilities.
        5. The issue you do not address is interesting – the aggression of your lobby group to local environmental groups. The diliberate targetting of a bushcare site at Mt Gravatt and abusive threats directed at websites are things you will live to regret – as they have galvanised us to oppose you and your plans for the take-over of Brisbane’s Nature Reserves.

        • Hi Wayne,

          Thanks for your latest reply – it is refreshing to have an environmental group manager who is willing to maintain a discussion with me on this issue. While it appears we are destined to disagree on a handful of aspects, I believe there is significant common ground shared by riders and conservationists and mutual benefits to be gained by both parties from this discussion.

          To address your points in the order presented:

          1. As I mentioned in my original post, I am a long-time observer of mountain biking in the Whites Hill reserve & can confirm that the number of riders has not reduced since the introduction of the local laws banning riding in the reserve. If anything, the number of riders I greet in the reserve has increased noticeably over the past 3 years.

          2. While the facilities provided at Gap Creek, Bunyaville, Daisy Hill and Wyaralong are of immeasurable value to the Brisbane mountain biking community, I believe I share the sentiments of many local riders when I say that these venues are too few and far between to sustain the demand. This sentiment is reflected by the growing number of legal trail programs currently being established across SEQ at Cornubia, Bayview, Parklands, Scribbly Gum Conservation Park, Tewantin National Park etc.

          3 & 4. No one is suggesting that our local reserves are surrendered to the whim of mountain bikers, nor Trail Care programs for that matter. As with all previously implemented trail networks in the region, the establishment of a legal mountain bike network in the Bulimba Creek Catchment area would entail the cooperation and collaboration of local conservation groups AND mountain biking groups. Aside from the apparent hostility that the issue seems to evoke, is there any reason why B4C and the local mountain biking community couldn’t work together to reach a solution that satisfies the needs of both parties?

          5. To everything that you have presented under this point, I object. I take particular offense to the accusation that my comments have been abusive or threatening & will leave it to the readers of this discussion to discern which of us has been the aggressor. I also sincerely doubt I will live to regret my efforts to diffuse the emotional aspects of this debate and inject some common sense and pragmatism into the discussion. Needless to say, the ‘targeting of a bushcare site at Mt Gravatt’ has nothing to do with me & appears to be a distraction from the discussion at hand.

          To refer back to my original post, there is no question that the B4C is a vital organisation to the region & the work of the committee is of huge value to the local community. Likewise, there is no question that the preservation of the waterways and bushlands of the Bulimba Creek Catchment area is imperative.

          However, there is also no question that the existing policies regarding mountain biking in these areas do not form an effective management strategy & more-often-than-not serve to advance the degradation of our natural environment by offering no alternative other than illegal trail building and subsequent demolition.

          Had an effective Trail Care strategy been in place 5 years ago, the Acacia track would not be littered with eyesores where illegal trails have been “decommissioned” by way of excavator & chainsaw. Likewise, the recent spate of arson attacks could have been avoided, with mountain bikers able to offer additional security to the often sparsely-occupied reserve.

          As always, I welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue further in a public forum and would be thrilled to partake in an ongoing dialogue between the B4C and the local mountain biking community (the only method by which I can forsee a long-term, sustainable solution being established).



      • You hit the nail on the head with the comment “10+ years of council-enforced regulation has not succeeded in deterring mountain bikers from riding in our local reserves” .The enforcement has been close to non existent. I think it is your responsibility to complain to the BCC specifically demanding more enforcement of their own bylaws and offering to increase the rates to have this done. that would be one way you could help deter bikers making illegal tracks.

  6. Hi Wayne,

    As a proud supporter of the B4C & all of the wonderful conservation efforts made by the committee, I have to pull you up on the arguments you present, as well as the intent of the article itself.

    As I’m sure you’ll be displeased to hear, I ride in the Whites Hill reserve regularly. At the risk of causing you further grief, I feel I should let you know that there are literally dozens of riders that currently frequent the reserve, and they are of all ages, not just the “usual young rider” as you claim (I’m 47 years old and far from the oldest rider on the trails). Finally, at the risk of crushing you spirits completely, I have been riding in Whites Hill reserve for over two decades…

    In that time, riding in the reserve has gone from being legal to illegal, trails have been created, destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed again, moved, shut down, reopened and shut down again. The only things that haven’t changed are the number of people riding in the reserve and the natural qualities of the reserve itself. As the current state of the most recently “decommissioned” trail off the Eastern ridge can testify, the nature of the reserve is highly resilient to the effects of mountain bikers. Furthermore, with the added support of a trail-care program (as already successfully implemented across various reserves in Brisbane), a sustainable trail network could be established, without the need for vigilante trail builders doing battle with council bulldozers.

    As for the “behaviour and safety issues” that cause you so much concern, I can only suggest that you align your concerns with the capacity of your role with the B4C, rather than attempting to be a babysitter for those who use local reserves.

    Finally, the point that conservation groups like B4C, MGEG etc. are missing is that public nature reserves are for *everyone*, and regardless of the efforts/threats/fines/derision made by local environmental groups over the past decade, there is still significant demand for mountain bikers to be able to ride in their local reserve, legally. Having been a participant in & observer of mountain biking in our local reserves for most of my life, I am adamant that the solution here is management, not banishment.

    I appreciate the good work you do for our local reserves, but you are well off the mark with both your statements and your intent in this matter.



    • Wayne Cameron has a rather myopic view regarding the use of mountain bikes in Brisbane’s Reserves. It’s about time he lifted his head out of the sand to acknowledge mountain bikers can operate and use the reserves in harmony with advocates of conservation. There is a place for both. I’ve seen this successfully implemented in other cities I’ve lived in: Wagga Wagga, Melbourne and Sydney to name a few. Parks for the enjoyment of all and not quarantined due to the distorted views of just a few.

      John Fells.

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