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A regional trails network for south-east Queensland: Discussion paper

 

For more information contact: DNRM
Regional Landscape Unit
Level 8, Mineral House
41 George St, Brisbane
phone 3227 8522
fax (07) 3227 8502
email: Jennette.Moscoso@dnr.qld.gov.au

© The State of Queensland (Department of Natural Resources and Mines & Environmental Protection Agency) 2001

Foreword

Outdoor recreation is an important aspect of the lives of a significant number of Queenslanders. The quality, quantity and diversity of opportunities for outdoor recreation and, in particular, recreation trails, have long been a basis for our State’s tourism marketing campaigns, and contribute significantly to the health and economic well-being of Queenslanders.

There can be no doubt that the community of south-east Queensland has a vital interest in the issue of recreational trails, both at the individual trail level and regional scale. Trails exist in a number of forms ranging from surplus railway corridors to urban cycle paths to river systems to rugged hinterland and cross-border trails that provide for walking, horse riding, four-wheel-driving and trail biking. There is the potential to create many more such trails. Queensland also hosts a large section of the world’s longest trail, the Bicentennial National Trail, which rests within two hours’ drive of 2.4 million south-east Queensland residents.

Resident and visitor participation in trails have quantifiable benefits in health, recreational and environmental terms. The Active Ageing Strategy 1999-2003 (Active Ageing Industry and Government Working Group, 1999) states that a mere 10% increase in physical activity by the Australian population would result in a net health benefit of $590 million to the economy. It further cites ancillary benefits to industry through reductions in absenteeism and increased productivity. Research from Australia and overseas establishes significant tourism and economic benefits to be derived from trails; these include expenditure in rural and regional areas, return visitations and increases in domestic and international overnight stays.

The outdoor recreation demand study (Department of Natural Resources & Department of Emergency Services, 1998) confirms the high participation rate of south-east Queensland residents in trails with ‘walking or nature study’ being the highest recorded leisure activity of those surveyed. Visitors to our region are equally keen to explore our natural and urban environments.

But who is responsible for marketing, coordinating and managing outdoor recreation trails in south-east Queensland?

The answer is simple: Queensland has not yet fully embraced the opportunities associated with outdoor recreation trails. We do not have a ‘champion’ or ‘lead agency’ for marketing, developing and maintaining what is one of our region’s greatest assets.

Similarly, there is no legislative or administrative framework to cover trails that span several local government areas or multiple-tenure boundaries. This has resulted in a reduction in trails patronage, a loss of tourism dollars in rural and regional areas, a reduction in trail quality, environmental degradation, and inefficient and often non-existent maintenance programs.

A comforting fact is that these issues, which are not unique to Queensland, have been overcome elsewhere with outstanding benefits to the community, environment and economy.

Trails reveal south-east Queensland’s finest landscapes. The challenge is to provide an integrated network of trails that offers something for everyone now and for the future. The vision we have is of a high-quality network of regional trails showcasing an attractive region and providing recreation, tourism, health and education benefits.

This paper presents actions and strategies for achieving this vision, and addresses the issues and opportunities of providing trails in south-east Queensland. It is the first phase of work undertaken by the Regional Trails Working Group for the Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee.

This is an extremely valuable project for all levels of government and the community.

...................................................

Mike Halliburton
Chairperson
Regional Trails Working Group

news

Contents

Foreword iii

Executive summary •••

1. Background 1

1.1 Purpose

1.2 History

1.3 Key issues confronting the developers of trails in south-east Queensland

1.4 Regional Trails Working Group

2. Opportunities and benefits of trails •••

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Tourism and economic benefits

2.2.1 Outdoor recreation

2.2.2 Regional trails already exist

2.2.3 Trails benefit local economies

2.2.4 Trails generate employment

2.2.5 Trails attract tourists

2.3 Social benefits

2.3.1 Trails save health dollars

2.3.2 Trails provide opportunities to visit the bush

2.3.3 Trails unite communities

2.3.4 Trails are an educational resource

2.3.5 What’s in it for me?

2.3.6 Other advantages of providing trails

2.3.7 Conclusion

3. The challenges for the trails community •••

3.1 Challenge: Developing a regional iconic activity trails network

3.1.1 The regional iconic activity trails network

3.1.2 Getting on the regional iconic activity trails network

3.1.3 Staying on the regional iconic activity trails network

3.1.4 Where to from here?

3.2. Challenge: Community support

3.2.1 At the individual trail level in south-east Queensland

3.2.2 At the regional trail level in south-east Queensland

3.2.3 Outside south-east Queensland

3.2.4 Means of community involvement

3.3 Challenge: Funding and maintaining trails

3.3.1 Capital funding

3.3.2 Maintenance

3.4 Challenge: Institutional arrangements

3.4.1 What would a coordinating group do?

3.4.2 Options for coordinated management

3.4.3 Community interaction with the coordinating group

3.4.4 Government interaction with the coordinating group

3.4.5 State-wide applicability

3.5 Challenge: Establishing a legislative basis

3.5.1 Options for management

3.5.2 Discussion

3.6 Challenge: Public risk and liability

3.6.1 Background

3.6.2 Liability insurance

3.6.3 Conclusion

4. Conclusion •••

4.1 The next phase

Appendixes •••

References •••

Executive summary

Outdoor recreation is an important aspect of the lives of a significant number of Queenslanders. The quality, quantity and diversity of opportunities for outdoor recreation and, in particular, recreation trails have long been a basis for our State’s marketing campaigns and contribute significantly to our health and economic well-being. Indeed, for all that trails reveal some of south-east Queensland’s finest landscapes they remain an under-developed resource that is full of potential but lacks coordination and cohesive direction.

In March 2000, the Regional Landscape Unit of the then Department of Natural Resources recognised both this potential and the challenges associated with seeing it become a reality, and embarked on a process of consultation and investigation that is intended to establish a framework for furthering the positive role played by trails in our community. This report is the outcome of that process.

In order to maximise the opportunity presented by trails, our challenge is to provide an integrated network that offers something for everyone now and for the future. The vision we have is of a high-quality network of regional trails showcasing an attractive region and provide recreation, tourism, health and education benefits.

In 1998, more people camped out in south-east Queensland than the combined attendance at home games of the Brisbane Broncos (rugby league), Queensland Reds (rugby union), Brisbane Bullets (basketball) and Brisbane Lions (Australian rules) over the same period. Visitors to our region are equally keen to explore our natural and urban environments.

Trails bring significant benefits to the communities in which they exist.

A major one is economic. Walkers on the Bibbulmun Track, a world-class long-distance track in Western Australia, spent well in excess of the construction cost of the track ($5 million) last year alone. It’s not just visitors that contribute economically: the expenditure of residents in accessing trails also provides a significant boost for local economies. Trails generate jobs in construction and can use resources such as Green Corps and minimum-risk prisoners. In addition, they offer opportunities to increase the diversity of tourism products available.

Trails help to save health dollars. Around $75 million annually can be saved from an extra 10% of the south-east Queensland population becoming physically active. One way in which trails can contribute to this saving is through providing safe opportunities for people from all walks of life to actively enjoy outdoor recreation. A properly developed and promoted trail network can form part of a ‘managed illness prevention’ strategy.

Trails present easy access to the natural environments for residents of both urban and rural communities. A trail in the bush is available within two hours drive of most south-east Queenslanders’ homes. Trails present a wealth of opportunity for community involvement and interaction, through volunteer programs, social events and general usage. They also offer a range of opportunities for providing environmental, historical and cultural information to trail users and the wider community.

This paper identifies a number of challenges to be faced on the path to a properly developed and promoted trail network. These are:

developing a regional iconic activity trails network

• harnessing community support

• providing adequate funding, for development, maintenance and promotion

• identifying a lead agency to keep the trails agenda moving forward and to provide a focus for activities

• developing a solid legislative base for the provision of trails

• addressing the vexing issue of public risk and liability.

The paper introduces the concept of a regional iconic activity trails network, in which the best trails in south-east Queensland would be packaged as single entity for the purposes of funding, management and promotion, and as the appropriate way to progress the trails agenda. Trails in the ‘family’ of regional iconic trails would be quality ones that are well built for their purpose, well managed and maintained, and promoted as part of a suite of quality outdoor recreation opportunities. An iconic network would also give local trail groups a framework on which to build their own trail proposals. A local trail connecting to, or complementing, a regional trail would be viewed more favourably by funding agencies.

The challenge of gaining and keeping community support is related to harnessing the community’s enthusiasm and channelling it into viable and long-term strategies. The paper highlights some very good examples of communities working together and with government to develop and promote trails. These include the Point Lookout Headlands Trail Network on North Stradbroke Island, the Bicentennial National Trail (New South Wales), the Bibbulmun Track (Western Australia) and the Appalachian Trail (United States). The community wants to be involved in the consultation process and in the decision making process. All trail managers should seek to facilitate such involvement. Some strategic principles and examples of how they can be implemented are included in this paper.

Lack of funds for capital and recurrent works is a key constraint to trails development in south-east Queensland. A number of capital funding sources are identified in the paper; they include land trusts, voluntary groups, cooperative partnerships, and charging users, both directly and indirectly. For example, the publication Wild Places of Brisbane has generated significant funds and kudos for the publisher, Brisbane City Council. Much of this income has gone into the management of reserves and parks under the council’s jurisdiction. There are programs in all levels governments that have yet to be fully tapped as potential funding sources. A good example is health, particularly the preventative health program. Other potential funding programs are in economic development, and the product development programs in the tourism sector.

Maintaining trails takes specific skills, considerable perseverance and the capacity to respond to user feedback. It can also be expensive, with annual maintenance bills on some trails reaching as much as 10% of initial construction costs. Concerns with trail maintenance are commonplace in Australia. The issue of maintenance pervades every aspect of the management of trails. Current maintenance expenditure is significant and yet it is not enough. It would be short sighted to go ahead and build and upgrade trails yet ignore the demands of managing and maintaining them. This paper makes some suggestions about how to address this challenge. Promotion and marketing are a legitimate part of the basic cost of providing and maintaining trails, and should not be treated as something to do if some money is left over. In addition, coordinated marketing at the regional level is needed to fully promote this wonderful resource to residents of and visitors to south-east Queensland.

Queensland has not yet fully embraced the opportunities associated with outdoor recreation trails. We do not have a champion to lead the marketing, developing and maintaining of what is one of our region’s greatest assets. Current trail development is fragmented, with no clear lead agency or cohesive development policy: trails are planned, developed and managed by a variety of State agencies and local governments. Interaction between these groups, or with other interest groups, is limited. The provision of regional trails will only occur if some group is assigned overall responsibility for south-east Queensland regional trails’ coordination, planning, funding, research and promotion. Apart from taking on this primary role, it is envisaged that a champion would establish an integrated link between the State Government, local governments and the community, through regional and local groups. To achieve this objective, a number of roles have been suggested. The group would be a voice to champion the cause of recreational trail development, and to help fully realise the potential positive contributions of trails. The group would be responsible for developing and maintaining the integrity of the regional trail network while individual trail managers would be responsible for constructing and maintaining their own regional or local trail to an agreed minimum standard. There are four major options for making progress on coordinated trail management. These are:

as an additional role for an existing government agency’s program (e.g. the Regional Landscape Unit)

• as a separate group in an existing government agency (e.g. Trailswest, which sits in Western Australia’s Ministry of Sport and Recreation)

• as a new government agency

• as a community, statutory or private sector based organisation

All models would encompass a form of community advisory panel with a degree of independence and clout and an inter-government advisory panel.

There is no legislative or administrative framework for addressing trails that span multiple agencies and tenures. The key challenge for government is providing a suitable legislative basis to ensure that trails planning and management on public and private freehold lands (where a voluntary agreement has been entered into) is coordinated, comprehensive and complementary. The legislative options for managing trails within south-east Queensland include:

coordinated conservation areas under the Nature Conservation Act 1992

recreation areas declared under the Recreation Areas Management Act 1988

reserves for community purposes under the Land Act 1994

Brisbane Forest Park Act 1977

planning legislation administered by local governments.

Non statutory options include:

contractual arrangements with individual landholders, involving memorandums of understanding

• the use of models such as land trusts and statutory covenants

• the Regional Landscape Strategy model.

The adoption of a legislative model or contractual agreement to underpin the coordination and management of regional trails may be based on the circumstances surrounding individual cases. Another possibility that could be considered is new legislation; alternatively, it could be that all the outcomes can be achieved using non-statutory mechanisms.

Trail proponents and managers need to recognise that the condition of trails in their control can pose a significant liability risk, particularly if they contain obvious hazards. Management requirements that could be set out as a set of principles to be adopted to ensure the following limitations on liability:

construct trails to meet recognised minimum guidelines, and contract risk-management consultants to ensure these standards are met

• ensure that trails are maintained under a rigorous program that includes regular inspections and prompt action to attend to known hazards

• implement a hazard-reporting system that enables the rapid reporting of potential hazards and prompt attention to newly identified hazards.

There is no impediment to taking out adequate insurance to cover the use of trails and, with a stringent safety strategy, accidents on trails should be kept to a minimum.

This report advances all key issues identified above. In some cases, it has suggested definitive solutions; in others, it has put forward options that need further work. There is an urgent need to start this work, as trail opportunities are being lost through development and the closure of disused corridors. A draft strategic plan has been developed and includes issues flagged in this paper that need further work and other action the Regional Trails Working Group believes is appropriate.

A comforting fact is that these challenges are not unique to Queensland and have been overcome elsewhere with outstanding benefits to the community, environment and economy. South-east Queensland is blessed with a range of outstanding natural environments, many of which are relatively close to major population centres. This means there is a significant opportunity to develop a coordinated network of regional trails to cater for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, four-wheel drivers and others. The benefits accruing to the community (and to the State) from the development of such a network are substantial and wide-ranging, and include direct and indirect health benefits, increased tourism opportunities, job creation and economic stimulation (including in depressed rural areas), environmental awareness and education, and a clearer understanding of our personal and combined interaction with the natural world. This paper is intended to form the foundation of just such a trail network. It addresses identified issues and proposes potential solutions; it offers a framework for progress, and it does so with an eye to the communal good.

 

 

1. Background

1.1 Purpose

This paper presents actions and strategies for addressing the issues and opportunities concerning the provision of regional trails in south-east Queensland. It is the first phase of work being undertaken by the Regional Trails Working Group (RTWG) for the Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee (RLSAC). The RTWG has broad representation from all levels of government and the community, particularly groups with a special interest in the provision of regional trails. The RLSAC is a ministerial advisory committee to the Queensland Minister responsible for natural resources. The paper has three clear objectives:

to define the social, environmental and economic benefits of regional trails

• to articulate the urgent need for ownership and management of regional trails

• to present a strategy—a way forward—for addressing the range of issues raised.

1.2 History

The SEQ2001 project, which was a government-initiated project that commenced in December 1990 to address concerns over the rapidly growing population of south-east Queensland, considered the issue of open space and recreation. The Regional Planning Advisory Group (1993) recommended a regional open-space system that featured core areas and essential links. The Bicentennial National Trail as a whole and the Brisbane loop of the trail were seen as potential essential links between the core areas. The first phase of SEQ2001 culminated with the formulation of the regional framework for growth management (RFGM) in 1995. It included principles and priority actions relating to outdoor recreation generally. As the principal outcome of the south-east Queensland 2001 planning strategy, the RFGM and its successors have been endorsed by all levels of government as the agreed regional planning strategy for south-east Queensland.

The RFGM included discussion on what is now known as the Regional Landscape Strategy (RLS),and section 5 of the RFGM regional outline plan contains the objective, principles and priority actions of the RLS. Until the State election in February 2001, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), through its Regional Landscape Unit, was the lead agent for implementing the RLS; following the election, this status was been transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the unit’s move to that agency. The RLS fosters input from the community, all spheres of government and relevant land-management agencies in the planning, development and management of south-east Queensland’s regional open space. Its objective is ‘to protect, through equitable processes, the regionally significant open space of South East Queensland for present and future generations’.

Local governments, through their participation in regional planning and through meeting their own responsibilities for outdoor recreation planning, have also had a long history of involvement in trails. In 1995, the Southern Regional Organisation of Councils (SouthROC) commissioned a study to look at the role of local government in the provision of ecotourism trails. The framework developed was applied to a limited planning study on a continuous walking track through the Scenic Rim from Point Danger on the Gold Coast to Mount Mistake on the western edge of the rim (Ecotourism Research Group 1996). When the work was completed, SouthROC began to lobby the State Government to take the planning study further. After significant pressure by SouthROC, in October 1999 the Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee recommended the inclusion of regional trails as a core component of the RLS.

This decision was made on the basis of:

the responsibilities of DNR and the RLSAC as lead agencies for many aspects of the provision and management of regional open space, pursuant to the RFGM

• individual trail and regional trail networks being intrinsic components of the landscape and fundamental to the connectivity, accessibility and enjoyment of regional open space

• representations from SouthROC for assistance in developing the Scenic Rim Walking Track

• historical shortcomings in the coordination, planning, administration and management of trails across the region.

Priority Action 5.12 of the RFGM establishes the charter for trails investigations by the Department of Natural Resources and the RLSAC. It said that a network of regional trails in south-east Queensland should:

link regionally significant open space areas

• consider the economic and social benefits and cultural opportunities for trails

• consider the cultural and environmental impacts of trails

• build community awareness of open-space issues.’

To take this priority action forward, the Regional Landscape Unit commissioned a study by the consultant group EDAW and confirmed the issues with the Regional Trails Forum of user groups that was held in Brisbane in March 2000. The full history of the regional trails initiative is contained in appendix 1.

1.3 Key issues confronting the developers of trails in south-east Queensland

Participants of the Regional Trails Forum identified several issues confronting those working on trails development and management in south-east Queensland. They were:

regional growth

high population growth and increasing demands for outdoor recreation

– limited amount of land available to meet the increasing demand for trails

– competition between different modes of trail use

communication

the need for more effective information sharing

– better interagency communication and management of recreation

– the need to involve Indigenous groups (including consulting them about native title)

coordination

lack of coordination on trails that span local government areas

– disparate groups pushing towards ‘common’ goals

– a State master plan or regional-trails framework required

information

finding out why has Queensland not followed other States

– educating stakeholders about the economic, environmental and social benefits of trails

– making sure of the timing and appropriateness of marketing

support, which requires

political support

– strategic and innovative thinking

– cooperative efforts between community and all levels of government

cost, which requires

funding to get results

– the adequate funding of maintenance/ and management

– the resolution of public liability constraints on volunteering and freehold land involvement

development of opportunities such as

significant tourism and health benefits

– gaining a ‘champion’

– helping to meet regional forest agreement (RFA) outcomes

– prevention of ongoing track and trail closures

– marketing to the world.

1.4 Regional Trails Working Group

The Regional Trails Working Group was established to make progress on the identified issues. This report marks the completion of phase 1 of the project. The history and composition of the RTWG can also be found in appendix1.

 

2. Opportunities and benefits of trails

2.1 Introduction

Studies undertaken by the State Government and local governments over recent years have shown that there is a growing demand for outdoor recreation in south-east Queensland (see for example Department of Natural Resources & Department of Emergency Services 1998). The RTWG recognises that trail managers and associated land-management authorities will need to accommodate this demand and harness the opportunities stemming from providing trails.

In addition to the known increase in community demand for trails, there is a growing awareness of the direct and ancillary benefits of trails in terms of social, environmental and economic benefits.

2.2 Tourism and economic benefits

2.2.1 Outdoor recreation: most of us are doing it

 

Many people in south-east Queensland participate in outdoor recreation activities such as bushwalking, horse riding, four-wheel driving and canoeing. The south-east Queensland Outdoor Recreation Demand Study (Department of Natural Resources & Department of Emergency Services, 1998) states the following statistics for survey respondents who had participated in outdoor recreation activities in the previous twelve months:

60%, bushwalking

• 31%, two-wheel driving on unsealed roads

• 25%, camping

• 25%, cycling

• 17%, activities using non-motorised watercraft (e.g. canoeing, sailing, kayaking)

• 7%, horse riding.

In summary, ‘more people camped out in south-east Queensland than the combined attendance at home games of the Brisbane Broncos (rugby league), Queensland Reds (Rugby Union), Brisbane Bullets (basketball) and Brisbane Lions (Australian Rules) over the same period’ (Department of Natural Resources & Department of Emergency Services, 1998). The population of south-east Queensland is estimated to increase to more than three million by the year 2011, a growth of around 700 000 people or a 30% increase on the June 1999 estimate (Regional Coordination Committee 2000). This will bring added pressure for more open space and outdoor recreation facilities to be provided. State-wide research further indicates the popularity of outdoor recreation. Over half of all Queensland residents over 15 years old visit our national parks at least once a year; there are 12.5 million visitors a year to each of these parks (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 2000). This is in only one area of outdoor recreation.

The research presented above summarises the very small body of Queensland-specific research. More research, which paints a similar picture, has been done in other States.

Market research by Tourism Victoria has indicated that there is a high demand for short walking circuits and formed paths (Albone, 2000). A 1998 survey of national and international visitors to Victoria showed that 27% of respondents had gone on a short walk during their stay. The research also showed that, in Victoria, there were 16 million visits in one year to national parks, with 90% of respondents indicating walking was a key interest. Of those visiting national parks, 15% went bushwalking, indicating that about 2 400 000 people are bushwalking in Victoria’s national parks each year.

Some detailed work on the use of walking tracks has been done in Western Australia. A recently completed survey focussed on the use of and impacts on trails in the Shire of Mundaring, which is on the eastern outskirts of Perth. This report (currently in draft form) produced astonishing proof of the rise to mainstream status of trails and trail usage. It reported that:

63% of shire residents (i.e. about 20 000 people) had used the trails in the previous 12 months

• 21% of the residents of Perth (i.e. about 180 000 people) had used the trails in the same period

• 81% of people who had come from outside the shire had come specifically to use the trails, indicating that the trails are a significant destination in their own right

• exercise and fitness was the most common reason stated for using the trails, followed by fun and enjoyment, suggesting that trails play an important role in encouraging physical activity with consequent positive effects on community health issues

• the vast majority of users felt that the trails had added to their quality of life.

By way of summary, the report stated:

It would appear that the Mundaring Trails are playing a significant role for not just the local residents of the Shire of Mundaring but for the whole of Perth. They provide a venue for a range of exercise and fitness related activities, as well as opportunities for more recreational pursuits and to commune with the bush.

These trails are serving as a specific destination for a large number of people from outside the shire, and these visitors are bringing a noticeable economic benefit to the Shire.’ (Boshe Group, 2001).

There is other evidence of the growing popularity of trails. For example anecdotal evidence suggests that national registration of off-road camping vehicles has doubled in the last five years.

2.2.2 Regional trails already exist

Regional trails already exist in Queensland and other parts of Australia, as well as overseas. Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail (BNT) was developed in conjunction with the Australian Trail Horse Riders Association. The trail web site claims that the ‘Bicentennial National Trail is the longest marked trekking route of its kind in the world, stretching an extraordinary 5330 kilometres from Cooktown in tropical North Queensland to Healesville in Victoria’ (BNT, 2000). The trail links 18 of the country’s national parks and reveals some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia, although it should be noted that this could be improved in some parts of south-east Queensland, where the route was sometimes determined by compromises made when the trail was being developed. The trail is used for all sorts of activities, including horse riding, bushwalking, camping, fishing, canoeing and mountain-bike riding. The route lies within four hours’ drive of the homes of 11 million Australians, and its length and variety ensure it can meet the needs of many people.

Joining the BNT is the Brisbane Loop, a circuit of about 400 kilometres. It runs from the Toowoomba escarpment across Esk Shire to Lake Wivenhoe, east towards the D’Aguilar Range, south through eastern Ipswich and through to the World Heritage Area of the Scenic Rim. If all the agencies involved in managing this trail coordinated their work, the Brisbane Loop could be managed so that future planning decisions would ensure that it remained as a continuous trail for horse riders and other users. The track has been fragmented in recent years due to changes in land ownership and land development activities.

The regional trail concept is widely used overseas. The Appalachian Trail (USA), used by four million people each year, may be the best-known overseas example. The Galloping Goose Regional Trail (Canada) is another example. The Galloping Goose is the name given to the Capital Regional District Parks in southern Vancouver, Canada, that have been converted from the former Canadian northern Pacific railway line into a 60 kilometre regional trail. A web page prepared by the Capital Regional District Parks encourages people to walk, ride and cycle the ‘Goose’.

In south-east Queensland, the regional trails concept can be used to develop an integrated network of trails utilising many modes of transit. These trails would supply the growing demand for outdoor recreation activities such as walking, horse riding, cycling, four-wheel driving and motor-bike riding. It would also link the existing local government trail systems with regional and national trails such as the BNT.

2.2.3 Trails benefit local economies

There are a number of direct economic benefits that can be derived from outdoor recreation activities, especially to small rural and regional economies. The EDAW survey (Wood, 1999) of user groups and government agencies in south-east Queensland identified that many rural local governments were looking to trails as a means of improving local economies through ecotourism activity. The data cited in table 1 below confirms that the expectation that these communities have of the positive economic benefits of trails is grounded in reality.

The following table draws on a number of sources to indicate the quantum of expenditure on outdoor recreation in south-east Queensland.

Table 1. Expenditure on selected outdoor recreation activities in south-east Queensland by ABS region

Activity

Participants
(from table 2)

Individual yearly expenditure $
(from ABS 1998)

Total yearly expenditure
($)

Bicycle riding

553 593

796

440 660 028

Horse riding

155 706

1 405

218 766 930

Swimming

863 605

259

223 673 695

Motorised sports*

442 874

1 787

791 415 838

Riding motorised watercraft

575 736

1 277

735 214 872

Riding non-motorised watercraft

376 443

419**

157 729 617

Total

2 567 460 980

* Includes four -wheel driving
** Expenditure for paddle-powered vessel; $940 if sailing vessel (Queensland Outdoor Recreation Foundation, pers. comm.)

The table describes only a small number of outdoor recreation activities, making the expenditure conservative; this figure demonstrates the significant contribution of outdoor recreation to this region’s economy.

The Bicentennial National Trail is promoting the ‘supply town’ concept, especially when looking at the economics of independent trek-based tourism. The concept means that those using the trail come into towns and spend significant amounts on a diverse range of items, such as camping equipment, repairs to equipment, food, hot showers, refreshments, accommodation, veterinary and horse-related equipment, phone calls and postage. Expenses of $150 per week per person are typical and are significant contributors to the economy of rural Australia (Bicentennial National Trail, 1997).

To date, overseas and domestic tourists trekking on the Bicentennial National Trail have spent about $10 000 each in Australia (Bicentennial National Trail, 1997). Some of this expenditure is in small rural and regional towns. Such expenditure is particularly important in these economies where it can represent a significant proportion of money spent in a community that often has fewer sources of income than large urban centres. There were also indirect benefits through sales of specialist hiking and camping gear.

In south-east Queensland, there are a number of smaller communities that benefit from expenditure on outdoor activities. The presence of a camping-gear retailer in Boonah is one example.

The West Australian survey (Boshe Group, 2001) showed that visitors to the Shire of Mundaring spent an average of $11.43 per visit in the shire, injecting as much as $10 million a year into the local economy. In addition they spend another $12.28 per visit outside the shire. This equates to a total annual expenditure of some $4 267 800—enough to create and support about 51 full-time jobs (at the ABS rate of 12 new jobs per $1 million expenditure).

The Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management surveyed walkers on the Bibbulmun Track during 1999–2000 and found that at least 35 000 people spent in excess of 217 000 walking days on the trail in a one-year period. It has been estimated that about $1.1 million is spent a year on accommodation by walkers alone. When expenditure on track-related gear, transport to and from the track, and food are added, an estimate of $6.25 million is derived. It appears reasonable to conclude that Bibbulmun Track walkers spent well in excess of the full construction cost of the new track ($5 million) last year alone. Many local businesses along the track are now able to identify a turning point in their fortunes relating directly to the popularity of the track (Shrimpton, B., 2001, pers. comm., 30 March).

Trail users of the Pembrokeshire coast path (UK) generate $30 million of income in the area; this represents a return of $57 for every $1 spent on trail management. In the USA, the White Mountains section of the Appalachian Trail contributes $63 million to the local economy and employs one in nine people in the area (Albone & Bawker, 2000).

The money locals spend using trails also provides a significant boost for local economies. A number of outdoor recreation commercial companies operate successfully in south-east Queensland. Many retail shops dealing with outdoor recreation have opened in prime inner-city retail space in Brisbane, for example in Fortitude Valley. Unfortunately, there is little research data available on expenditure on outdoor recreation in urban Brisbane. However, figures from other studies may indicate the level of urban economic support for outdoor recreation: for instance, the Boshe Group report (2001) showed that residents spent an average of $1.44 each time they used the trails in Mundaring Shire, making for an injection of some $2 million per year into the local economy.

2.2.4 Trails generate employment

Trails generate jobs during the construction of trail infrastructure and facilities, the maintenance of trails and in administration services. In many cases, these opportunities make use of resources that would otherwise be underused. The Bibbulmun Track was built using the labour of Green Corps members and minimum-risk prison inmates (the latter through an agreement between the Department of Conservation and Land Management and the Ministry of Justice). Such an approach not only allowed the developers to tap into an under-utilised resource but also provided significant benefits such as increased self-esteem and skills building for the individuals involved.

2.2.5 Trails attract tourists

The Tourism Forecasting Council estimates there will be 8.4 million tourists visiting Australia by 2008 (Parker 1999). Nature-based tourism, such as adventure recreation, some cultural activities and eco-tourism, can all be carried out on trails. Providing a network of trails would be an integral part of supporting the growing tourism infrastructure. Trails are a unique opportunity to combine conservation and tourism.

Trails offer opportunities to increase the diversity of tourism products available. The tourism resource offered by trails is magnified by Australia’s competitive advantage: its spectacular and diverse natural features and cultures.

Glen Rock Regional Park, which offers spectacular natural scenery

Trail users often become tourists, increasing the economic benefits to local communities: they come for the trail experience but stay and participate in the other activities offered in a region (e.g. visiting tourist attractions, visiting the local pub).

A primary element of trails tourism is promoting and marketing trails. To ensure the public investment and economic benefits are maximised it is important that tourism and promotional campaigns are established as trails are developed. Tour agents, park managers and other stakeholders should work closely together to ensure marketing is undertaken properly to have the right product prior to promotion. This should also be complemented by research into best-practice overseas and domestic models.

Part of a promotion package could include television. Programs such as the ‘Great South East’ and ‘Great Outdoors’ help to promote public awareness of outdoor recreation and can help improve the patronage of trails. Promoting trails to the right markets can encourage people to visit all sorts of places in south-east Queensland. Trail users speak positively about visits to trail areas, thus creating free advertising. Promotional opportunities for local and regional areas can be aligned to trails and be used in focussed marketing campaigns. One good example of useful, well-covered support material to help people enjoy trails is the guidebooks and maps produced for the BNT. They contain maps of the route, give details of distances and sources of provisions, nominate the best campsites, give information on water sources, and provide historical information of the routes (Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail, 2000).

Camping ground at Glen Rock Regional Park

Several regions along the BNT in Queensland have been identified as ideal places at which to implement specific tourism-development strategies. The strategies could capitalise on the trail’s natural and historical features as well as on existing attractions close to the route. The development and promotion of these parts of the trail could make an important contribution to Queensland’s tourism industry, particularly in attracting independent adventure tourists to regional Queensland (Bicentennial National Trail, 1997). Such an intelligent marketing approach would apply equally to other trails in south-east Queensland.

Promotion should include strong visual cues, be focused on high-quality tracks with consistently good signage throughout, include support material, and offer packages (Albone, 2000). The key points to remember when marketing trails are (Albone, 2000):

understand your market

• deliver the right product

• whatever the trail—use collaborative marketing

• make it part of a larger promotional tool.

Trails present a unique opportunity not just to marry two often-conflicting forces (i.e. people and nature) but also to make them profitable. Promoting public awareness of a trail network provides significant benefits to local economies from both domestic and international visitors. Most importantly, this financial viability will guarantee that these nature-based recreation resources will be available for future generations.

2.3 Social benefits

Recreation is important to Australians: it is an essential component of our history, culture and psyche. While many people participate in organised, traditional forms of recreation (e.g. football, netball, cricket and softball), many also participate in informal outdoor recreation such as bushwalking, four-wheel driving and canoeing. Why do people choose to participate in such activities that can take them away from comfort, have some level of risk for a few hours or up to weeks at a time? The answer may be that these people recognise that participating in such activities has a large number of benefits, both for themselves as individuals and for the communities in which they live.

2.3.1 Trails save health dollars

Imagine visiting your GP and being prescribed, not tranquillisers or anti-depressants, but a gentle walk along a recreational trail three times a week.

Active Australia, a recent program of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care and Australian Sports Commission’‘’ highlighted that:

in 1997, 44% of all Australian adults were ‘insufficiently active’

• physical inactivity contributed to the risk of 8600 deaths per year, of which 1531 were premature (i.e. under 70)

• the annual, direct health-care costs attributable to physical inactivity were about $377 million—a conservative figure which amounts to only half the cost per head of population compared with figures that have come out of studies in New Zealand, the USA and Canada

• for every 1% of the population that sustained a sufficient level of physical activity, 1764 life years and a minimum of $3.6 million were ‘saved’

• increased physical activity reduced mortality from all causes within two years, half the time it took to reduce mortality following the cessation of smoking

• physical inactivity ranked second, after tobacco smoking, in contribution to ill health in Australia.

It should be noted that indirect and intangible costs were omitted from this study. Intangibles are those things that contribute to quality of life. This is supported by Owen (1997), who says that at least 30% of disease is related to lifestyle. Figures are similar for the US, where it is claimed that 25% of all health-related spending is on medical intervention that might have been avoided if people exercised more and ate a healthy diet. It is now well accepted that we are heading down the American path, and becoming an obese nation.

Given these figures, it is not surprising that Australia now spends 8% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health. This is projected to rise to 10% soon, as more and more expensive treatments are required by our aging population (Owen 1997). How can we address this problem? The Federal Government estimates that there are savings of about $600 million annually to be made from an extra 10% of the population becoming physically active; this equates to about $75 million in south-east Queensland (Queensland Transport, 2000). One way of encouraging people to become more active is to provide safe opportunities for people from all walks of life to enjoy active recreation outdoors. Trails create places for the community to exercise (Maher Brampton Associates, 2001). Research in Australia and overseas has shown that health and fitness are the two reasons that people commonly give when explaining their participation in outdoor activities.

Another health benefit to be gained from participating in physical activity is that it can help alleviate stress and anxiety, contributing to people’s sense of wellness and, ultimately (though not immediately obvious), to reductions in their demands on the health budgets. Physical activity in natural environments such as on trails can also lead to better personal well-being when people gain a greater sense of accomplishment from any challenge posed. This has the potential to improve self-confidence and self esteem.

In short, physical activity is good for us—and good for our health system!

It is apparent that constructing quality trails can play a crucial role in reducing long-term health care costs—and can help in reducing the social disruption that accompanies illness resulting from sedentary lifestyles. Indeed, in the future it will probably be considered that spending money keeping people out of hospital is better than spending it on attending to inactivity-related illnesses. Because trails can provide hope of a healthier community and relief from spiralling medical costs, they should be seen as an essential component of the health care system, and warrant funding accordingly (Maher Brampton Associates, 2001).

The development of a trails network, providing low-cost recreation opportunities to a range of recreationists from hard-core wilderness adventurers to the individual or family day-trippers using parks with provided facilities, and the promotion of the network as contributing to an active lifestyle, could form part of a ‘managed illness prevention’ strategy.

2.3.2 Trails provide opportunities to visit the bush

As previously stated, more people camped out in south-east Queensland than attended major sporting events in the same period. Trails present easy access to the natural environments for urban and rural people. Residents of south-east Queensland are in an enviable situation in that natural settings are easily accessible: for most of us, a trail in the bush is within two hours’ drive. This is a significant element of the attractiveness of the region, and was noted at the SEQ2001 growth-management conference in December 1990. Over the 10 years since that conference, the attractiveness of the region has remained, and at the same time the number of people using it has increased markedly. Even taking the rapid increase in population into account, this is, surely, public support for the provision of trails.

2.3.3 Trails unite communities

Trails can encourage social harmony and interaction, helping foster community pride stemming from a sense of ownership of the local trail. Two outstanding examples of where such community pride has developed are the Appalachian Trail in the USA (a strong volunteer program since 1932) and the Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia (a newcomer having been opened in 1999 but already with a strong volunteer maintenance network). Trails present a wealth of opportunity for community involvement and interaction, through volunteer programs, social events and general usage. By involving people in planning and developing trails, they may feel more a part of the social fabric in which they live. Participation in these critical processes helps heighten community awareness and encourage community ownership of trails. These outcomes benefit all residents of the community in the long term. As Burke (1998) points out, ‘An engaged citizenry is a critical determinant of the health of a nation’s stock of social capital’. This is recognised in the Queensland Government’s Heritage Trails Network, a program that is pursuing partnerships with local governments, communities and the private sector to create sustainable employment and celebrate and conserve Queensland’s cultural heritage.

In the promotion of economic growth and creation of jobs, trail construction and promotion can benefit all, and unemployed people in particular. The presence of trails can also provide cross-cultural experiences, particularly in small rural areas as trails draw urban residents from surrounding regions and other domestic and international visitors. This experience has been cited favourably in New Zealand’s experiment with rural walkways on private farms. Farmers who have opened their properties to trail users reported positive experiences from meeting new and interesting people (Grocke 2000). In addition, there can be no better way to promote an understanding of and respect for the natural environment than by facilitating satisfying, safe and enjoyable access to nature on well-planned and well-managed trails.

2.3.4 Trails are an educational resource

Trails present a unique opportunity to trail users and the community in general for education, not only environmental and outdoor education, but also cultural and historical education, incorporating both Aboriginal and European material, and in developing better social skills. Users of interpretative guides and services obtain a sense of appreciation for, and understanding of, the interpreted resource. Interpretation can make trails significantly more interesting. Inventories of cultural and natural features form the backbone of interpretative systems. This includes locating notable features of a trail, such as scenic viewpoints, wildlife, ecological communities, cultural features and historic buildings.

2.3.5 What’s in it for me?

Outdoor adventure is a catalyst for change because it is an avenue for providing exciting and creative programs that aid personal growth in participants (Berman & Berman 1999). As well as individual health benefits, outdoor recreation provides participants with a number of other positive outcomes. These include:

proximity to nature, with significant personal benefits

• an understanding of the connection between challenge and reward

• experience of a simpler lifestyle

• reductions in stress levels

• involvement in outdoor recreation activities

• learning to live with and share with others

• opportunities to interact with other people

• enhanced decision-making and personal goal-setting skills

• better understanding of, and respect for, our natural environment.

 

Outdoor recreation activities can be particularly important in helping any person who is considered ‘at risk’ and prone to anti-social behaviour (e.g. those who have difficulty controlling their anger), suffer from low self-esteem or, perhaps, are suffering from depression because of the inability to cope with life stresses. Adventure-based programs place these people in an unfamiliar environment outside their comfort zone, and they learn to trust themselves and others, and to work in teams when challenged with problem-solving activities. The benefit to the community can be a reduction in antisocial behaviour, crime and suicide.

2.3.6 Other advantages of providing trails

Trails can play a role as wildlife corridors and habitats for our native flora and fauna. Additionally, properly managed trails can take pressure off other areas that it would be valuable to protect for nature conservation.

Trails can assist in land management by providing natural firebreaks and ease of accessibility for management activities. This is also important when considering providing access points for rescue operations.

2.3.7 Conclusion

Providing a network of trails through the countryside helps bring people to the natural and cultural landscapes of south-east Queensland. An integrated and well-promoted trail network could go a long way to satisfying the strong and growing demand for a wide range of outdoor recreation activities. Trails also provide a positive impact on the health and lifestyle of users, and encourage a heightened sense of community awareness and interaction.

The benefits of trails can be summed up as follows:

trails present easy access to natural bush settings and can help satisfy a growing demand for outdoor recreation in south-east Queensland in a well-managed and environmentally sustainable way

• trails realise wide-ranging community and individual benefits through economic stimulation, heightened sense of community consciousness, and a positive impact on people’s health and lifestyle

• trails present a unique opportunity for education, not only environmental and outdoor education, but also cultural and historical, incorporating both Aboriginal and European material.

Scenic views of Glen Rock Regional Park, a popular outdoor destination in south-east Queensland

 

3. The challenges for the trails community

The adoption of the regional trails challenge by the Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee is timely and appropriate. As a region-based body with representatives from the State Government and local government, rural industry and various other community stakeholder groups, it is currently the most appropriate (indeed only) committee to address the need to recognise regional trails.

This section identifies the challenges facing the State Government and local governments and the community in planning and managing trails in south-east Queensland. The Regional Trails Working Group has developed a vision for a trail network that provided guidance as the challenges were addressed. That vision is for: ‘A high quality network of regional trails showcasing an attractive region and providing recreation, tourism, health and education benefits.’

Before discussing the range of challenges and possible solutions, it is useful to make some general observations about a number of issues:

The working group is dealing with all recreational trails; it is not confining itself to walking trails, or riding trails or trails dedicated to particular pursuits. Unfortunately, much of the research the RTWG has been able to access has been done about the non-motorised end of the spectrum, so references to research are biased in that way.

In considering and developing a network of trails, the TRWG has taken an approach akin to that taken to trails in the USA and, to a lesser extent, the UK, where a ‘trail’ can include paths that are considered to be ‘shared paths’ or urban footpaths. This is at odds with the approach generally taken in Australia, which is noticeably closer to the wilderness end of the recreation spectrum. The RTGW has extended the recreational spectrum to allow trails such as the Mountains to Mangroves network and the Brisbane River Walk to be considered.

The working group acknowledges that part of the trail network needs to provide access for the disabled, although it has not specifically targeted such trails. It is a matter for individual trail managers to provide such access at points along trails.

This paper makes no discrete references to aquatic trails, with the notable exception of the inclusion of the Noosa River canoe trail and the possibility of the Gold Coast-to-Moreton Bay concept trail, which includes a canoe leg. Land-management agencies are referred to, but not water management agencies. Again, the working group considers such activities to be an essential part of any network. Land-management agencies have the responsibility of ensuring that there is access and landing facilities as appropriate to allow such trails to be pursued.

The multiple uses of trails and the potential conflicts between trail users have not been addressed in the discussion. The working group is aware of these conflicts. The various organisations have codes of ethics (e.g. the Australian National Four Wheel Drive Council Code of Ethics) and these provide an avenue to allow the users themselves to resolve conflicts. This is the best approach and any unresolved problems may better be handled at the individual trail level.

In preparing this paper, the working group drew heavily on work done in Western Australia by the Ministerial Taskforce on Trails Network (Ministerial Taskforce on Trails Network, 1995), the Trailswest Strategic Plan (Trailswest, 1998) and the draft State Trails Master Plan (Maher Brampton Associates, 2001). This activity is a reflection of the Western Australian trails community’s recent holistic review of a range of issues concerning recreation trails. Other States have also made some recent progress or are making progress on specific issues. South Australia has recently passed legislation designed to establish legislative recognition of recreational trails in the land-tenure system. Tasmania has recently pursued the concepts of a ‘family’ of great trails (incorporating short walks, eight bushwalks and 10 island walks). In WA, the Ministerial Taskforce looked at the whole range of issues, the strategic plan laid out how many of these were to be advanced and the State Trails Master Plan provided a review of some of these initiatives and pointed to some new directions.

Finally, in south-east Queensland the way forward will be a partnership between the State Government, local governments and the community in all its guises, rather than an approach that is imposed on any of the key players. This applies to all facets of operations of trails.

All these points should be kept in mind while considering the challenges described below.

3.1 Challenge: Developing a regional iconic activity trails network

3.1.1 The regional iconic activity trails network

As discussed in section 2.2.2, there is already an extensive network of trails of all types in south-east Queensland in various states of use, preparation and standard. Some, such as the Bicentennial National Trail and the Noosa National Park coastal walks, are internationally known; some, such as those on the Scenic Rim and in the Cooloola region, are nationally significant; some are local secrets. However, there is no integrated management and promotion of these trails or of new proposals such as the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.

To help integrate these trails and networks, the RTWG commends the concept of a regional iconic activity trails network. A formal network would facilitate the best trails in south-east Queensland being packaged together for the purposes of funding, management and promotion. The RTWG sees this as the appropriate way to progress the trails agenda. Trails in the ‘family’ of regional iconic trails would be quality trails, that is trails that are well built (for their purpose) in the first place, well managed and maintained, and promoted as providing for a suite of quality outdoor recreation opportunities. Such an approach is not revolutionary, having recently been progressed in Tasmania. Hepper (2000) describes the Tasmanian Walking Tracks Strategy, which incorporates the ‘Great Short Walks’, ‘8 Great Bushwalks’ and ‘10 Great Island Walks’. Western Australia is currently considering a draft State Trails Master Plan, which, among other initiatives, would introduce the concept of a network of trails, classed as ‘highly significant’ or ‘significant’ as the icon trails of Western Australia (Maher Brampton Associates, 2001). Adopting this proposal would also complement the Queensland Government’s recent policy commitment to the ‘Great Walks of Queensland’ program. However, the south-east Queensland Regional Iconic Activity Trails Network would be narrower in geographic scope but wider in use types than the great walks program, which would be an ideal candidate for inclusion in the broader network. There is also a need to integrate any work on a network with similar activities in Northern NSW as the trail experience does not recognise State borders.

This concept does not neglect the myriad of smaller trails that already exist or are proposed, but rather provides a way of prioritising funding and promotion. It also gives local trail groups a framework by which to pursue their own trail proposals. Under the proposed Regional Iconic Activity Trails concept, a local trail connecting to or complementing a regional trail would be viewed more favourably by funding agencies.

The working group developed four categories of trails that could be included in such a network. They are:

trails that already exist and are functioning well (e.g. the Noosa National Park coastal walks)

• trails that already exist but need some work to more fully develop them or preserve their status (e.g. the Bicentennial National Trail)

• proposed trails or trails on which some preliminary work has been done (e.g. the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail)

• trails that are at a concept stage only and need significant work before they become viable (e.g. the Gold Coast to Moreton Bay Trail).

3.1.2 Getting on the regional iconic activity trails network

The working group has done some preliminary work on the Regional iconic activity trails network, considering what trails might be on the network and what criteria could be used for determining what trails qualify for inclusion. The group does not have definitive answers. Some broad categories under which criteria could be developed are listed below. It is intended that these form the starting point for discussions among members of the trails community. Once the criteria are refined, it will be critical that thresholds be developed to further refine agreed criteria. The suggested criteria and the main areas of concern identified so far in each of these are:

fauna and flora

distinctive vegetation, including rare species

– wide variety of vegetation types

– rare wildlife

landscapes

outstanding rural landscapes

– wilderness scenery

– scenic vistas

– range of land types

destinations

the historical and cultural significance of destinations

– connectivity to other tracks

– links to small local communities

– links sites listed on the National Estate, properties held under the Regional Landscape Strategy or other types of significant sites

experiences

links to or through historical towns and villages

– World Heritage listing

– range of settings from wilderness through to rural

– theme or number of themes along the trail

– number of user types over sections

– making trails distinctly Australian

– contrast along the track (e.g. Brisbane River varies greatly from beginning to end)

– beauty of the experience

– quietness, lack of facilities

– can be segmented, or done in parts

– range of experiences (e.g. walking, climbing, 4WD)

– passes or contains regional landmarks

physical, mental and emotional challenges

degree of fitness required to meet physical challenges

– providing different challenges for different people

– provides opportunities for education, self discovery and development

– opportunities for solitude

cultural elements

personalities associated with the trail

– long history of use

– eventing (e.g. King of the Mountain at Pomona)

– historical heritage and interpretation (e.g. rail, logging)

– cultural connections (e.g. King of the Mountain run)

– Indigenous connections

– encouraging interaction between city and country people

– far-reaching effect on culture and history of south-east Queensland (adopted from National Trails System Act (USA)

Comment sought

The working group is keen for feedback on the categories to help convert the broad categories into useful criteria.

As a result of the application of these indicative categories in a very general sense, figure 1 (appendix 4) shows trails that could be included on the Regional iconic activity trails network at this stage.

A similar exercise undertaken in Western Australia (Maher Brampton Associates, 2001) spent significant resources and used an exhaustive process to arrive at a set of criteria for determining which trails should be included in a State Trails Master Plan and in what order of priority. An eight-step process was used, encompassing:

the definition of a trail

• the scale of the trail

the class of trail that is proposed

• the minimum requirements that should be adhered to

• determining the significance of the trail using a trail opportunity and demand spectrum—this could be seen as the heart of the process, defining trail proposals from highly significant to low significance, and assessing characteristics such as the supply of similar trails, anticipated rates of use, the range of user types, likely economic benefits, security of tenure, and visual quality of the surrounding areas

• determining the estimated cost of the proposal

• determining the value received for the cost of providing and maintaing a trails network

• determining the priority of trail building within the network, incorporating the project’s capacity to fill gaps in the network, the significance (step 5) and value for money (step 7).

Such an approach is only one way forward.

3.1.3 Staying on the Regional iconic activity trails network

The working group recommends that, should the concept of an iconic trail network be adopted, a complete process is needed for ensuring that trails meet and maintain the necessary status to retain their place in the network. It is unacceptable to have the iconic trails of south-east Queensland promoted to residents and the wider world as a quality network if the trails it comprises do not meet the expectations of users due to poor construction and maintenance.

3.1.4 Where to from here?

A comprehensive plan is the primary mechanism for focussing trail development in south-east Queensland. The aim of this would be to avoid a piecemeal approach to trail funding and a situation where agency maintenance budgets are being squeezed to maintain a large number of trails, many of which are under-utilised. Agencies could benefit by using the iconic trail concept to close down some trails and focus their maintenance budgets on the identified trails. It should be noted that any framework, once fully developed, would not exclude any other trail project from funding; the idea is to provide a focus for prioritising funding.

In Western Australia, it has taken five years and a significant expenditure of resources since the taskforce completed its report to prepare a draft State Trails Master Plan. In the draft document, the consultants noted that Western Australia might not have been ready for a master plan until now. However, the cost has been that much of the funding to date from the Lotteries Funding Program, which helps fund the provision and maintenance of trails, has been delivered in a piecemeal way rather than towards a structured State-wide network of trails (Maher Brampton Associates, 2001). Drawing on this experience, the preparation of such a framework in south-east Queensland should be a priority of any ongoing trails initiative. Refinement of the concept as presented in this paper could be a significant component of phase 2 of the work of the Regional Trails Working Group. Finalisation of the network is an action included as a high priority in the draft strategic plan (see appendix 3).

3.2 Challenge: Community support

There is no doubt that the community of south-east Queensland, diverse as it is, has a vital interest in the issue of recreational trail development, both at the individual trail level and looking across the region at the issue of coordination, planning and management. The experience of the Regional Trails Working Group can confirm the enthusiasm of community groups and individuals across south-east Queensland to regional trails. The working group has received a significant number of inquiries from horse riders, bushwalkers, four-wheel-driving enthusiasts and others seeking information on where to undertake their activity or how they can help with the regional trails initiative.

In addition to the need to tap into community energy and enthusiasm, it is now accepted that governments at all levels must involve their communities in activities and planning. Consultation and full partnership arrangements are now considered both necessary and desirable. The existence of the working group, and, indeed, the Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee, are evidence of how partnerships between the community and all levels of government can meet this demand and work together for the benefit of all stakeholders.

The challenge of community support is therefore related to harnessing such enthusiasm and channelling it into viable and long-term strategies. There is also a need to ensure there are adequate resources and support within the public sector to coordinate and manage community involvement in the long term.

3.2.1 At the individual trail level in south-east Queensland

There are some very good examples of community involvement in construction and on-going maintenance of individual trails. For example, Redland Shire Council and the local community constructed the Point Lookout Headlands Trail Network on North Stradbroke Island using community resources. The Point Lookout Surfriders Club sourced funds from the Jupiter’s Casino community trust fund, and the council provided construction crew and expertise. Some members of the Surfriders Club were also on the construction crew, and picked up valuable skills during the process.

The recently released Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service draft master plan recognises the need for greater community involvement in park management. A whole section of the plan is devoted to this issue and discusses principles, future goals and strategic actions.

3.2.2 At the regional level in south-east Queensland

The Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee is a regional body with representatives from State and Local Government and various community stakeholder groups. The Committee oversees the Regional Landscape Strategy and the work of the Regional Landscape Unit, and advises the Minister for Natural Resources. It has recently begun to play an important (short-term) role in trail management at the regional level, commissioning the work of the Regional Trails Working Group. However, there is no recognised regional trails-related body to provide a focal point for community involvement.

3.2.3 Outside south-east Queensland

It is fair to say that Queensland has lagged behind practices both elsewhere in Australia and overseas when it comes to community involvement in individual trail planning and development. The trails discussed below are just some examples of what might be considered good practice in the provision and management of trails.

Bicentennial National Trail, New South Wales

The New South Wales Premier’s Department has employed a trail coordinator to manage community involvement in the NSW section of the BNT. The coordinator is located in Lithgow, an economically struggling town in central NSW adjacent to the trail. The coordinator has set up a group of section coordinators who, among other activities, provide ‘eyes on the ground’ for the trail. The section coordinators are also on the board of the Bicentennial National Trail Foundation and so have a direct say in the organisational structure and direction. They provide direct feedback to the board and to community groups from the board. In terms of work on the ground, the coordinators use whatever community groups are active in their section to assist in this task. The trails community is responsible for marking the trail and guiding the trekkers, while the land manager is responsible for trail management and maintenance.

Great South West Walk, Victoria

The Great South West Walk, a 250 kilometre walk on the south-west coast of Victoria, is maintained, upgraded and promoted by the Friends of the Great South West Walk. Every year, 4 000 hours of volunteer labour to keep up the tracks and 1 000 hours of administrative work is given by the friends. Tasks include mowing and trimming; building bridges, lookouts and staircases; sheeting paths; and reclaiming land (Golding 2000).

The Tasmanian Trail

The Tasmanian Trail is a 480 kilometre multi-use recreational trail stretching from Devonport in the north to Dover in the south. Eleven community groups assist in management on the ground, and the Tasmanian Trail Association Inc. (TTAI) is the trail manager. The TTAI conducts trails maintenance and provides guidance and assistance to community organisations. It also provides all maintenance materials and produces guidebooks. Community groups are the ‘eyes on the ground’ for trail maintenance, in both carrying out the maintenance and notifying the TTAI what is required. The community groups are also responsible for promoting their own sections of the trail at various opportunities such as local shows (Boden 2000).

Bibbulmun Track, Western Australia

The Bibbulmun Track is a 1 000 kilometre walking track from Perth to Albany. The Friends of the Bibbulmun Track, with 451 registered volunteers, plays a major role in the success of the track. The track is divided into 191 separate maintenance sections under an ‘eyes on the ground’ program conducted by the friends group in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Land Management. Volunteers are trained to report on the condition of the track using special maintenance forms and to carry out basic maintenance tasks such as the control of vegetation and minor erosion (Shrimpton 2000).

Across the wider Western Australian trails scene, the funding guidelines of the Lotteries Commission of Western Australia specify that projects should involve volunteer services, donated materials, sponsorship and other self-help initiatives. This approach significantly fosters community involvement (Lotteries Commission of Western Australia).

Appalachian Trail, United States

The Appalachian Trail is probably the best known volunteer-run walking trail in the world. It stretches over 3 000 kilometres along the eastern seaboard of the USA. The trail is managed by a private, non-profit organisation, the Appalachian Trail Conference, an umbrella organisation for the 31 Appalachian Trail clubs. In 1999, in excess of 4 400 volunteers contributed more than 181 000 hours of labour to the trail maintenance effort (Appalachian Trial Conference, 2000).

Otago Central Rail Trail, New Zealand

The Otago Central Trail, stretching 150 kilometres along an old railway alignment, is regarded as a huge success. This success is due partially to the significant role in the fostering of community involvement and partnerships that occurs in New Zealand. The trail recently won an award from the NZ Recreational Association - part of the citation read ‘a key part of the long term project was maintaining the involvement, participation and partnership of all the key stakeholders. The project represents all that is positive about community and national organisations working in partnerships.’ (Graham 2000).

Community involvement in conservation generally

The use of community involvement and volunteer labour is common elsewhere in the conservation field. Greening Australia and the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers are two organisations in Australia that undertake numerous duties contributing to the conservation of the natural environment through labour-intensive programs such as the Green Corps. These examples indicate that, in south-east Queensland, we clearly have some significant distance to travel to catch up with our compatriots.

It should be noted, however, that, using volunteers does not allow governments to abrogate their responsibilities. The Appalachian Trail experience is instructive: despite the fact that the Appalachian Trail Conference provides one of the best volunteer programs operating anywhere in the world, governments have continued to accept a significant share of the responsibility for the trail. The Appalachian Trail still receives regular government funding (both cash and in-kind) and on-going cooperation with the relevant government agencies. Additional special funding grants are still made by government; for example, in 1978, a one-off US $90 million funding injection was used to help protect much of the trail corridor.

3.2.4 Means of community involvement

There may be a number of options pursued for trail management that will require different levels of community involvement. The Ecotourism Research Group (1996) specifies a number of models for individual trail management and cites national and international examples. These are:

government management (e.g. the Overland Track, Tasmania)

• community management (e.g. Appalachian Trail)

• cooperative partnerships between governments (e.g. Australian Alps Walking Track)

• cooperative partnerships between governments and community (e.g. Great South West Walk).

The group’s report specifies advantages and disadvantages of the various models. It is not the intention of this paper to recommend a model of community involvement at the individual trail level, because one model will not fit all situations. The list of examples shows that any track can be managed quite competently by any model depending on the individual circumstances. The Regional Trails Working Group recommends that all trail managers seek to actively involve the community in trail management.

Local trail groups (which would typically comprise local governments, ‘friends of’ groups, and other clubs and organisations) could implement trails at the grass-roots level and take responsibility for the development and on-going maintenance and management of trails, or interact with local government or State Government agencies such as the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and DNR that undertake trail work.

Principles to guide participation

There are some basic principles to be observed by trail builders in involving the relevant communities with an interest in an individual trail. Some of these are strategic in nature while others refer to managing volunteers on the ground.

The use of strategic principles would encompass:

trail builders needing to be committed to community involvement, as the community has a right and an expectation of being involved

• as a minimum, the community being involved at the trail-planning stage

• relevant agencies compulsorily responding to community initiatives—it is critically important that agencies respond positively, even though they will be constrained by resource limitations.

‘On the ground’ principles encompass:

exploring the opportunity of using other resources, such as low-security prisoners and community service order participants, both in the construction and the maintenance phases

• a level of government (either State or local) taking out personal accident insurance to cover volunteers, and maintaining public-liability insurance to cover the use of volunteers

• trail managers accepting community volunteers as ‘eyes on the ground’ for trail maintenance (and, perhaps, other functions)

• professional officers learning how to get the best out of working with volunteers—this could include the need for formal position descriptions for volunteers so that volunteers and trail managers know what to expect and what is expected of them

• recognition that ‘onyermates’ are critical to the success of volunteer programs, with agencies and trail managers acknowledging (and perhaps rewarding)frequently and publicly the value of volunteer input at both the group level and on a personal level

• volunteers being trained to undertake the jobs that that they are asked to do (e.g. the Redland Shire Council approach).

The Redland Shire Council has organised work groups of 10 people, including at least three who have undergone some formal training on issues such as occupational health and safety, and weed identification. The Friends of the Bibbulmun Track and TTAI have used a similar approach. An alternative approach that has been suggested is to set up a course for trails construction and maintenance skills, perhaps auspiced by a relevant group such as the Australian Leisure Institute.

It is essential that community-based trail groups receive support, funding and training to aid in their development and increase their professionalism. Experience in Western Australia suggests that community groups have struggled to maintain commitments when left unaided.

Community involvement in the planning, design, construction and ongoing maintenance of trails has been successfully used by local governments in Queensland, interstate and overseas for a large number of tracks, including the Great South West Walk, the Bibbulmun Track and the Appalachian Trail. We need more effectively guided community involvement in trail development in south-east Queensland.

However, despite some outstanding examples of community involvement in the trails process cited above, it is necessary to be realistic about community involvement in the upkeep of individual trails. Recent experience in Western Australia (Brampton, J., 2001, pers. comm., 1 February) would indicate that, in many cases, the community wants to be consulted to find out what is proposed and to participate in decisions about where particular trails should go. In many cases, the community wants no more involvement than this; this is all it is prepared to give. This is the minimum requirement the Regional Trails Working Group would expect. It is critical to have this level of involvement so that a sense of trust is established and so that support is given by the public for the trail. After all, the trail is in the public interest, and it is not only logical, but also common sense and good practice to involve the community.

In addition, although the use of participants in employment and training schemes has many community benefits, the assumption that it has a cost benefit should not simply be taken for granted. Rather, such an approach should be subject to a cost–benefit analysis, bearing in mind that using such programs can impact positively (e.g. through cheaper pay rates and increased self-esteem for participants) or negatively (e.g. through slower construction times) on the overall construction project.

This section has suggested ways forward for involving the community at all stages of planning, providing and maintaining trails. Using volunteers complements governments in their responsibilities for trail development. True partnerships are the way forward. However, we should be careful not to get carried away with romantic notions based on American experiences: the USA is blessed with a 300-year-old culture of volunteering, whereas Australia does not have such a rich history. Nevertheless, we have some way to go in Queensland to exhaust the well of enthusiasm that has already been identified. This section suggests mechanisms by which south-east Queensland trail managers might develop greater and more effective volunteer involvement in the trail development process. 2001, the International Year of the Volunteer, would be a symbolic time to make significant advances in involving our communities.

3.3 Challenge: Funding and maintaining trails

Funding of capital and recurrent trail works is a key constraint to trails development in south-east Queensland. The survey conducted by EDAW (Wood, 1999) revealed that local governments and local trail groups are frustrated by the lack of coordinated funding for trail construction and maintenance.

3.3.1 Capital funding

In 1996, the Ecotourism Research Group (ERG) identified a significant number of funding sources and funding options for trail development. The report noted that the issue of funding was significant given the continued shrinkage of government budgets. Five years on, little has changed in this respect, notwithstanding the recent $10 million commitment to the Great Walks of Queensland.

The ERG (1996) identified the following funding options in addition to traditional government funding sources:

user pays, both direct and indirect (e.g. the sale of Wild Places of Brisbane has generated significant funds for Brisbane City Council, much of which has gone into resource management)

• private companies and organisations

• voluntary groups and organisations, which can tap into sources that governments cannot (e.g. the Point Lookout walking circuit on North Stradbroke Island, which was built using Jupiter’s Casino community trust funds; see section 3.2)

• cooperative partnerships between agencies and communities

• land trusts

• private individuals and philanthropic organisations.

It should be noted that government policies rule out some of these options in specific instances. For example, the State Government has made a clear policy commitment that there will be no entrance fees charged for national parks. Notwithstanding this, the Regional Trails Working Group is of the view that these options still provide significant opportunities, although the group has not had sufficient resources to fully review the options.

The list prepared by the Ecotourism Research Group is now out of date. Unfortunately, the Regional Trails Working Group has not had the capacity to prepare a revised list. However, it should be noted that the experiences of some community groups is that, although there appears to be a wide range of potential funding sources, the criteria for funding usually means that trails do not qualify. Because trails are managed for everyone, they often do not qualify for special-purpose funding for targeted groups. In moving the trails agenda forward, it would be instructive to review the funding schemes inventory.

One issue that has become clear to the working group is that there are programs across all levels of government that have yet to be fully tapped into as potential funding sources. A good example is the health program, particularly the preventative health program. Given the many health benefits of trails discussed in section 2.2, there is a strong argument for actively seeking funding for trail development under preventative health programs. A multiple-use outdoor trail in Victoria, the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail, recently won the prestigious National Heart Foundation Award for best recreational facility in Australia. In accepting the award, the CEO of the Alpine Shire Council noted that ‘both the facility and the [Heart Foundation] have the same objective to improve heart health.’ (‘Rail trail wins national award’, 2001). This award clearly recognises that the expenditure of preventative dollars is far more efficient than the expenditure of dollars to correct health problems.

Other potential funding programs are in the economic development area, and this avenue has begun to be exploited: the Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia was partially funded under a grant from the Keating Government’s regional development program. Product-development programs of the tourism sector offer another avenue for funding. This matter needs to be progressed. Any examination of the opportunities will also need to include recommendations for legislative amendments required to remove restraints to funding being used for such programs.

The Regional Trails Working Group recommends a holistic approach to trails funding, with priorities determined by reference to the Regional Iconic Activity Trails Network. The Integrated Regional Transport Plan (IRTP) provides a good example of the approach needed. The major projects needed in the transport network have been clearly spelt out in a government document, with projected funding based on historical levels. All proposed transport projects are reviewed in the light of consistency with the IRTP. Although funding is not guaranteed, the document clearly articulates what is required in terms of dollars and networks. A significant shortfall has been identified compared to what is needed to serve the population of south-east Queensland, however, this approach is much more advanced than anything that exists for recreational trails.

3.3.2 Maintenance

Golding said (2000), ‘From the moment you place a track on the ground, every conceivable form of natural and human mischief conspires to destroy it.’ The comment supports the notion that building a trail is relatively easy, but keeping it in good—and safe—condition, year in and year out, is much, much harder. Maintaining the trails takes specific skills, considerable perseverance and the capacity to respond to user feedback. It can also be expensive, with annual maintenance bills on some trails reaching as much as 10% of initial construction costs (Maher Brampton Associates, 2001). Concerns about the cost of trail maintenance are commonplace. They include (Ecotourism Research Group, 1996):

on the Bicentennial National Trail, members’ subscription fees pay for some maintenance but volunteers mostly undertake the maintenance

• on the Overland Track (Tasmania), where major management issues include track deterioration and trampling, maintenance costs are $1 a metre (compared to $40–$120 a metre for construction)

• the promoters of the Hume and Hovell Track (NSW) identified lack of public-authority financial support for management and maintenance as critical issues

• on McMillans Track (Victoria), members of the Ben Cruachan Walking Club are heavily involved in the maintenance of the track on a no-cost basis, but lack of funding for maintenance is a major concern of club members

• the Friends of the Heysen Trail (South Australia) help alleviate maintenance costs through volunteer work, but upkeep with limited funding is the major management concern

• the Great South West Walk (Victoria) is maintained almost exclusively by volunteer labour, and keeping the track maintained is a major management concern.

Although there was enough funding to build the Heysen Trail, there has not been enough to maintain it. This is not unusual: the unfortunate reality is that many of the funding options currently available provide capital funds but not maintenance funds.

The issue of trail maintenance pervades every aspect of trails management. Inadequate maintenance means that the following scenario may unfold:

people’s experiences are significantly degraded

• the benefits of providing trails begin to cease, as people stop using a resource that has become degraded

• the trail, and trails in general, are seen in a negative light

• community support falls away

• discussions on institutional arrangements and legislative responsibilities become theoretical when the resource is not worth arguing about

• the risk of accidents and subsequent successful compensation claims increases significantly.

The Regional Trails Working Group has been unable to gain any meaningful figures on maintenance budgets for trails across south-east Queensland. Suffice to say, it is significant and it is not enough.

It would be short sighted to go ahead and build and upgrade trails yet ignore the demands of managing and maintaining them. Governments would not build roads and sports grounds (to name two relevant examples) without adequate provision for maintenance (both plans and funds). The Integrated Regional Transport Plan also provides an allocation of funds over its seven-year life to cover maintenance and service subsidies. No-one would dream of putting out such a plan without such basic inclusions in the transport sector; why are trails treated differently?

The way forward

The Regional Trails Working Group suggests the following actions are appropriate to help advance the issue of providing on-going adequate maintenance for trails in order to maintain their attractiveness.

The Regional Iconic Activity Trails Network gives responsible agencies the opportunity to better focus their maintenance budget on trails that are in the network, and allows for agencies to make a decision to close down other trails and redirect the maintenance funds from these to the key trails.

Community involvement through groups such as those working well in other States (e.g. Friends of the Bibbulmun Track, TTAI., the Appalachian Trail Conference, Friends of the Heysen Trail, the Friends of the Great South West Walk) can go a long way to assisting in maintenance with the correct training (see section 3.2). A commitment by trail managers to more fully utilising these groups or to actively seek to set them up is needed.

A scheme to ‘adopt a trail’ has been suggested; this would provide a way of further involving disparate groups such as schools, service clubs, and chambers of commerce in trail maintenance. A ‘Trailwatch’ program could become as successful as Waterwatch and Saltwatch in involving school communities in monitoring. The use of actual trail projects in TAFE and university courses has also been suggested. This could involve a wide range of activities from the construction of trails and facilities to monitoring and outdoor education.

However much all these potential initiatives complement, in partnership, formal assistance through government and corporate funding and professional skill development, they are not a substitute for properly secured assistance. It is unrealistic to expect that trail managers, be they local government or State Government, or well-meaning community groups, are going to be able to undertake effective management and maintenance without significant assistance.

A trail management and maintenance plan should be prepared during the construction or upgrade of any trail. However, it is of particular importance to list trails for inclusion on the Regional iconic activity trails network. No trail should proceed without such a plan.

For trails yet to be constructed or to be upgraded, the opportunity exists to minimise future maintenance demands through careful planning and reconstruction. Initial costs should not be cut: ‘if we do not do it properly today, we can fix it in the future’ is not the right approach. Building good trails in the first place is the best way of minimising future problems and costs.

Vegetation regrowth, erosion and damage to signs are likely to be the greatest maintenance activities on most trails. Provided these are attended to early, they are largely labour intensive; leave them and they also become capital intensive. However, there will always be significant incidents such as flood, fire and major or on-going vandalism (a particular problem with urban and near-urban trails) that will require some capital expenditure.

One of the proposals put forward is that local trail groups provide the initial works funding and seek government assistance for maintenance funding, a reversal of what currently occurs. This idea should be further explored.

There is a need to set up processes for on-going funding well into the future to ensure that trails are maintained consistently. Governments at all levels have been reluctant to tackle this matter. The Regional Trails Working Group recommends that a different approach is needed. The proposed Queensland Trust for Nature with its revolving land fund is one model that could be explored.

Promotion and marketing

It is desirable to have well-built and well-maintained trails. But if nobody knows about them or there is no interpretative material for users on the trail, they will remain an under-utilised resource. The benefits identified in section 2 of this paper will only be recognised if the trails are promoted and marketed properly. The Victorian Government’s ‘Stepping Out’ guide is an extremely good example of the approach we need to take to marketing. We also need to ensure that when trail users come to a trail, they are able to fully appreciate it through the availability of adequate interpretative material. It is vital and should be included as a fundamental cost item, and not treated as something to do if some money is left over. The trails management plan discussed above should include a marketing and promotion strategy developed in conjunction with relevant tourism agencies, and an interpretative material strategy to complement the hard work that will go into the maintenance. In addition, coordinated marketing at the regional level (incorporating trails and marketing activities in northern NSW) is needed to fully promote this wonderful resource to residents of south-east Queensland, northern NSW and visitors to the greater region.

As a concluding point, it should be noted that the problems and possible solutions suggested in this section apply to trails that would be on the Regional iconic activity trails network and to locally significant trails. Notwithstanding this, it is suggested that a different approach may need to be applied to capital funding for the two different types of trails. The draft Western Australia State trails master plan suggests that the approach to be taken is that local trails continue to be funded from the Lotteries Commission of Western Australia, which presently funds all trails. However, a separate fund should be created for the construction and maintenance of what the report terms highly significant and significant trails (which comprise Western Australia’s equivalent of the regional iconic activity trails network).

Comment sought

The Regional Trails Working Group is interested in the community’s views on taking such an approach in south-east Queensland.

3.4 Challenge: Institutional arrangements

The summation by the Western Australian Government’s Ministerial Taskforce on Trails Network about the situation there could equally apply to south-east Queensland. It said (1995, p. 13):

Current trail development is fragmented, with no clear lead agency or cohesive development policy. Trails are planned, developed and managed by a variety of State agencies and Local Governments. Interaction between these groups, or with other interest groups, is limited.

Consequently, development, management, maintenance and promotion are variable and standards are frequently inconsistent. Various groups operate in their own spheres and there are few established channels of communication for sharing expertise and information relevant to trails. Trail development is not prioritised and development agencies often compete for scarce funds rather than presenting a unified prioritised program of development.

 

A remote rural waterway used for canoeing

The discussion paper prepared by consultants EDAW Australia on current issues and priorities for south-east Queensland trails (Wood, 2000) confirms just such a situation in south-east Queensland, by noting that:

there are nodes of isolated trails expertise in the State, local government and private sectors

• there is poor coordination between government agencies and with user groups

• information is not usually shared with other sectors

• there is very little information readily available to users regarding the range of trail opportunities that exist in south-east Queensland

• funds and resources are limited and might be used more effectively if coordinated

• better planning across tenures and jurisdictions is required if long-distance trails are to be established

• major opportunities are being lost through lack of an agreed overall vision and strategy

• the resolution of some issues requires a combined approach.

The trails forum held in March 2000 also confirmed these issues as being crucial if significant progress is to be made on developing quality trails in south-east Queensland. The EDAW report makes its principal recommendation the establishment of effective trails coordination mechanisms to integrate all sectors and provide targeted funding assistance to address regional priorities. EDAW believes that the development of regional trails will only move forward if there is some group assigned to take on responsibility for overall south-east Queensland regional trails coordination, planning, funding, research and promotion.

Improved institutional arrangements, through designating and resourcing a coordinating group, would mean that these issues can be addressed and remedied on an ongoing, long-term basis. It should be noted that any model chosen would build on the partnerships that are already in place under the Regional Landscape Strategy and the more general RFGM. These have been developed over time and are now quite strong. The model chosen will include strong links to the community, user groups, regional bodies, regional processes and State agencies.

3.4.1 What would a coordinating group do?

The primary objective of a coordinating group would be to ensure the coordination, development, management, maintenance and promotion of recreation trails in south-east Queensland.

This group will establish an integrated link between State government and local government agencies and the community, through regional and local groups. To achieve this objective, a number of roles could be designated for the group (Ministerial Taskforce on Trails Network, 1995). Roles could include, but not be limited to:

providing coordination between trail-managing organisations in the planning and design of trails and development of strategic and management plans—this may include design guidelines and on-going maintenance and operations requirements and the on-going development of a regional trail master-planning framework

• managing the integrity of the regional trail network, ensuring that standards on nominated tracks are maintained

• providing an honest broker role, managing solutions for ‘pinches’ (where there are insurmountable problems for users such as difficulties traversing across tenures or between different land managers) in the regional trail network

• preparing guidelines (or promoting where these are available from) to assist State agencies, local governments and community groups in assessing suitability of potential trails

• providing an overall policy framework to assist State agencies and local governments, groups and organisations to plan, implement, manage and maintain a trail system in their area

• establishing common terminology

• contributing to major planning studies, reviews, tourism and other strategies to ensure that opportunities for future trail development are considered

• coordinating the upgrading of existing trails, and working with trail groups to develop new trails

• overseeing and coordinating the acquisition of resources for trail groups and trail development programs

• preparing planning and design guidelines (or promoting where these are available from) about uniform safety measures and greater public awareness of their responsibility to use trails safely

• providing legal liability advice to trail managers

• undertaking community liaison and support in order to achieve the overall objective

• undertaking community education on the benefits and sustainable use of trails

• providing funding advice to State agencies and local governments and to community groups interested in developing trails

• providing trail builders with seed funding, which is seen as crucial in stimulating interest in trail development

• coordinating volunteer development and training opportunities

• undertaking appropriate research (e.g. in trail-use statistics, perceptions of adjacent landowners, perceptions of trail users and non-users, economic impacts of trails, environmental impacts of trails, and opportunities for academic study programs)

• undertaking overall promotion and information on the trail network.

Trails should be promoted on a network basis, to capitalise on the advantages of scale and design consistency. Local trail managers may need assistance in developing trail-promotions material. One of the key roles would be to ensure that the existing trail system is effectively promoted and given a higher profile both within and outside south-east Queensland

Long beaches and waterways: these trail opportunities are synonymous with Queensland’s identity

In addition, a critical role for the coordinating group is as a catalyst for advocacy for and action on trails. The group would be a voice to champion the cause of recreational trail development, and to help fully realise the potential positive contributions of trails.

The RTWG recommends that a coordinating group not be used directly in the trail-building business, rather leaving that to existing land managers, the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, and local governments. There may be times when such a group may become a trail builder but this would only be under certain circumstances, such as where an opportunity and community demand for a trail exist, there are lots of agencies interested, but there is no one agency or community group which has the necessary funds or desire to be the primary driver.

In summary, the group would be responsible for developing and maintaining the integrity of the regional trail network while individual trail managers would be responsible for constructing and maintaining their own regional or local trail, to an agreed minimum standard.

Comment sought

The working group is interested in comments as to the roles of a coordinating agency. Are there other roles? Should emphasis be given to some of the listed roles in preference to other roles?

3.4.2 Options for coordinated management

The Regional Trails Working Group has noted the various approaches taken in other States to the coordination and management of recreational trails. In considering the various options, the RTWG examined material from the First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, which was held in Victoria in May 2000 and showcased experiences from Australia and overseas. It also examined the recommendations of the Western Australian Ministerial Taskforce on Trails Network (1995) in detail, as Western Australia was the most recent state to examine these issues in some depth. This taskforce recommended an approach involving the community and the WA Government equally in trails planning and development. At the time, such an approach was a middle-ground position between the Victorian approach (in which the State Government took a very hands-off stance) and the South Australian approach (in which the State Government was proactive). In Queensland, the direction to date has tended more to the latter although the recent Queensland Heritage Trails Network is an example of a community-driven approach. Local governments across Queensland have taken a variety of positions with regard to trail development. The key lessons the Western Australian taskforce drew from its research were that local ownership of trails is highly desirable and that heavy-handed government involvement may result in user groups becoming disaffected by their inability to have an impact on the process. However, it was also felt that local groups should not be left completely to their own devices as they commonly showed a lack of expertise in and knowledge about areas of trail planning, design, management and maintenance, and displayed some parochialism.

It recommended community involvement and ownership of individual trails, with the WA Government providing advice, resources and coordination. Such an approach highlighted both the need for a network and the need for public ownership to be adequately supported by information, expertise and resources to ensure the long-term viability of the trails network and of the working relationship between the management partners. Without this, public enthusiasm can be lost. Given the enthusiasm in south-east Queensland identified by EDAW, it is critical we effectively harness this invaluable resource.

However, in the four years in Western Australia since the taskforce published its report and Trailswest was established, it has become apparent that this more ‘hands off’ approach, so focussed on community ownership, only works in those few areas where there are sufficient numbers of well-informed and committed trail activists. Time has shown that relatively few communities in WA are ready for such responsibility, and that the effective uptake of the opportunities offered has been marginal. The Western Australian Government is now looking at a significant change of direction, with a greater degree of direct involvement in partnering trail development. Realistic assessments of human resources and actual community involvement in trails must be made: Western Australia is now paying the price for a romantic notion relating to the merits of a ‘bottom up’ approach (Brampton, J., 2001, pers. comm., 1 February).

It is fair to say that views on the various options are in a state of flux across Australia, with agencies moving from one end of the spectrum to the other over time. These views seem to be based as much on personal experiences and bureaucratic manoeuvring as any intrinsic benefits of the various proposed models. The Western Australian experience indicates the need to properly consider all models of coordination and to try to anticipate issues that may arise. It also shows that there may be a need to be flexible, and be prepared to change to suit changing circumstances.

The RTWG recommends that a new model for Queensland should adopt a middle-ground approach, but learning from the mistakes made in Western Australia. The working group also believes that the roles articulated above are the primary roles for any lead agency and these shape consideration of the various management options. There are four major options for progressing coordinated trail management. These are:

an additional role for an existing government agency’s program (including for a unit within a government agency, e.g. the Regional Landscape Unit)

• a separate group within an existing government agency (e.g. Trailswest in Western Australia that sits within the Ministry of Sport and Recreation)

• a new government agency

• a community, statutory or private sector-based organisation

In the discussion below of each of these options, some of the advantages and disadvantages of each option will be magnified, while some unique advantages and disadvantages will become more apparent.

The most critical point underlying consideration of all the models is that any program of trail coordination must have dedicated resources so that it can be done properly and must not be subjected to constantly changing priorities with concomitant fluctuations in resourcing. It requires a long-term commitment, both financially and philosophically. The rewards can be great but patience and long-term commitment is required. As an example, the US government and the Appalachian Trail Conference have been waiting 80 years to purchase land to re-route some of the Appalachian Trail, one of the iconic trails of the world. The lesson is that there is no such thing as overnight success.

Existing government agency

Some of the advantages of using an existing government agency include:

placement into an existing program, saving significant set-up time

• reduced requirement for resourcing as much of the support infrastructure is already in place

• a level of acceptance and legitimacy within Government

• access to an existing network of contacts

• an ‘instant’ public profile

• a perception that there is no threat to existing programs within the chosen department

• a readily identifiable representative at the Cabinet level via the appropriate Minister.

Some disadvantages include:

a dilution of energy and resources as the activity becomes just another part of the Department’s business, at risk of being pursued less vigorously—or abandoned entirely—when other government or departmental priorities arise

• a perception that the host department is staking out new turf at the expense of other departments that, consequently, may not cooperate, or that may seek to abrogate whatever responsibilities they currently have towards trails

• the culture of the host department not being appropriate or supportive

• the flip side of the ‘instant’ public profile, a community perception that such an approach means the trails program has no independence and is inaccessible by the community.

There may also be a geographical element to any problems of accessibility: the agency unit may be located in a central Brisbane office when the trails action is happening some way from this location.

There are a number of options under which a regional trails program could sit within a government agency. Some suggestions include within the Regional Landscape Unit (currently responsible for the working group initiative); within the Office of Sport and Recreation in Department of Local Government and Planning; or within QPWS, either in the traditional parks element of the portfolio or in the Forest Resources section. It is not the task of this working paper to suggest or finalise where the program should sit should this option be chosen. However, it is useful to highlight some options for program placement within discussion of this particular option.

Separate group within an existing government agency

Some advantages of creating a specialist group within an existing agency include:

placement into an existing program, saving significant set-up time

• a reduced impact on resourcing as much of the support infrastructure is already in place

• a level of acceptance and legitimacy within government (although there is, perhaps, less legitimacy than under the first option)

• access to an existing network of contacts

• relatively quick development of a public profile

• a readily identifiable representative at the Cabinet level via the appropriate Minister

• a community perception of some independence and accessibility.

Some of the disadvantages include:

a dilution of energy and resources within the department for the reasons stated in the first option

• a perception that the host department is staking out new turf at the expense of other departments

• the group would be directly subject to changing government and departmental priorities

• the culture of the host department may not be appropriate or supportive

• the host department itself may perceive that new turf is being staked out and may be uncomfortable with this

• a community perception that such an agency is not independent enough of the host department

• despite the fact that the unit has some autonomy from the host department, there may be a community perception that such an approach means the trails program has little independence and is largely inaccessible to the community.

There may also be a geographical element to the problems of accessibility (as discussed under the first option).

This is the option that the WA ministerial taskforce recommended for the setting up of Trailswest within the Ministry of Sport and Recreation. It also concluded that a unit would be best placed in the Ministry of Sport and Recreation because of its supportive culture and because trails would principally be used for recreation. As already noted in this paper, and as was clearly expressed at the Regional Trails Forum in March 2000, Western Australia’s decision on the structure and location of its lead agency is now the subject of much debate. While it may have been the most appropriate decision at the time, it is now the view of many in the Western Australian trails community that neither the structure nor the location of the Trailswest is serving the trails purpose with any great distinction. There are issues of bureaucratic turf wars and a community perception that the unit has not been able to function effectively. In effect, some of the disadvantages flagged have occurred.

A community, statutory or private sector-based organisation

Some of the advantages of having an organisation that is supported by statute or is situated in the community are:

significantly reduced exposure to changing governmental and departmental priorities

• significantly reduced bureaucratic requirements, therefore a capacity to focus more energy and resources on the tasks at hand

• capacity to draw or attract funds from a variety of sources

• limited exposure to petty jealousies and accusations of moving in on another department’s patch

• enhanced capacity to move proactively in appropriate areas of trail development, and to partner community groups and organisations

• capacity to harness quality management input from a variety of fields of expertise (including direct trails experience) on a board of directors

• capacity to build a public—and governmental—profile through a highly placed, highly respected patron

• capacity to straddle a number of government departments, involving each in their relevant areas of interest and expertise

• enhanced ability to ‘go in to bat’ against recalcitrant government agencies, and to argue strongly for trails without fear of internal government recriminations

• a community perception of complete independence from government

• a community perception that such a body would be very accessible as it is not part of ‘government’

• a group with a single focus.

Some of the disadvantages are:

no clear champion within the State Government process (especially in Cabinet), although there may be the capacity to appoint an ‘honorary’ minister or to utilise the patron to achieve this end

• following the lead of history, the possibility that an advocate group set up in this way may not have immediate legitimacy within government circles (particularly at the State level) in order to carry out its envisioned roles

• significant resource implications as there is a need to set up a complete support infrastructure

• the time needed to establish and develop legitimacy in order to address pressing issues.

It should be noted that, as with the new government agency option, there is no precedent in Australia for taking this approach. However, there are examples of community-based organisations in the trails and nature conservation fields that work with government. The Friends of the Bibbulmun Track operates in this way: in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Land Management, it is responsible for maintaining and promoting the Bibbulmun Track. The Appalachian Trail Conference is a community-based group operating in a similar way in the USA, although it rather than the government has primary responsibility for the trail. It should be noted that these groups focus on a particular trail rather than taking a strategic approach to the whole issue of trails, but the fact that they operate successfully provides an indication of the potential of this model or an adaptation of it.

In the more general nature conservation field, the trusts-for-nature system, which operates in the USA and Victoria and is proposed in Queensland as the Queensland Trust for Nature, operates along similar lines. The medical research field provides numerous other examples of community-based foundations operating on a strategic scale.

A community-based foundation for the management of trails would be likely to revolve around a small core of committed people as a way of facilitating a more efficient way of involving these people. It provides an efficient tightly focussed organisation to facilitate the contributions of such people.

It has been suggested that this model could be an appropriate second stage of development in south-east Queensland, with a new unit within an existing agency taking responsibility for a limited period (say two years) while a statutory foundation is being set up. In the meantime, the board of the foundation could act as an advisory committee (discussed below) channelling public input into the actions of the new unit. In this case, it is critical that the board be made up of knowledgable people prepared to speak their mind and champion the cause, or it will lose its integrity.

Should such an approach be adopted in principle, it would be necessary to examine how the stage one proposal (a unit within an agency) was performing, whether it was appropriate to progress to the stage of a separate foundation and, if so, what lessons could be taken forward. In Western Australia, it took three years for people to realise that the original model has not been as successful as it might have been, and that there was a need to look at other models. Whilst it would be desirable not to repeat the mistakes of others, it may be appropriate to stage the development to suit political and public requirements.

Comment sought

The working group is interested in comments as to the type of model that should be pursued given the roles envisioned for the advocate group.

3.4.3 Community interaction with the coordinating group

As noted earlier, there is significant enthusiasm, energy, knowledge and support for trails. It would be necessary for any coordinating agency to tap into this enthusiasm and desire to be directly involved. It would also be encouraging for individual trail managers to involve the relevant community in their own trail decisions - but the coordinating group needs to set a good example.

The Trailswest model could be useful in this case. The Trailswest Advisory Committee (TAC) consists of a broad cross-section of people from the general community and provides advice to Trailswest. The role of the TAC is to:

coordinate policy decisions

• advise the State Government on policy and plans relating to trails

• review existing trails-related policies

• seek funding and advise on funding guidelines

• review and provide input into the annual work plan for Trailswest

• act as a trails advocate

• recommend land acquisition or changes of tenure.

The TAC was designed to ensure public participation in the overall direction of trails development in Western Australia. It was intended to be a virtual board of directors, and was to provide advice to the Minister for Sport and Recreation, oversee the operations of Trailswest and provide a link to the community.

Whatever model is adopted in south-east Queensland, there is a need to ensure that the right people are included on any advisory committee, as the wrong appointments can undo the best models. People filling committee positions would need to:

command respect and be viewed as having integrity within the trails community and/or the wider community

• be committed to and passionate about recreational trails

• have the ability to build and maintain networks

• have the ability to work positively to achieve outcomes

• be open-minded

• have the ability to work in a collegiate manner as well as on behalf of their sector

• be focused on problem solving rather than issue raising

• have the ability to think strategically and conceptualise.

Experience elsewhere would suggest that the qualities of integrity and broad community respect are more important than detailed trails knowledge or an active involvement in trails.

In addition, it is important to involve the right sectors of the community in the advisory committee. Representatives should be drawn from a wide range of sectors, including:

local government

• education

• tourism

• planning

• the outdoors industry.

This model is not a traditional model which State Government agencies in Queensland usually use. However, there are some; for example, the Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee, which oversees the Regional Landscape Strategy and the Regional Landscape Unit, advises the Minister for Natural Resources and plays a similar role to that played by the Trailswest Advisory Committee, albeit with a much wider agenda. Another example is the Regional Non-Government Sector Committee, which advises the Regional Coordination Committee, which is responsible for the regional framework for growth management.

One option for community involvement in any coordinating group would be to use the Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee to interact with the group. However, to generate a true independence and the ability to embrace real trails knowledge a specialist sub-committee would appear a more successful prospect. The existing management advisory committees for ‘Glen Rock’ and ‘The Settlement’, properties managed under the RLS, provide a good working model. They have not become submerged under the structures sitting above them and have retained their usefulness. A management advisory committee for trails is worth investigating.

The Regional Trails Working Group recommends the adoption of a community advisory panel with a degree of independence and clout, regardless of the coordination model chosen. Such a panel should comprise people with the desirable qualities outlined above, to ensure that the enthusiasm, energy, knowledge and support identified in the EDAW study is harnessed. This would help to ensure that the issue of recreational trails could continue to be championed by those with power, passion and respect in both the trails world and the wider community.

Comment sought

The working group is interested in comments about the role of any community panel and models of community involvement with the coordinating agency that should be pursued.

3.4.4 Government interaction with the coordinating group

There is a need to establish appropriate institutional arrangements to ensure that there are good working relationships between trail builders and the coordinating agency. The Trailswest model uses an interagency coordination panel that consists of representatives from government agencies to assist in coordination of projects and programs and resolution of technical and practical issues. The main functions are to:

facilitate cooperation on technical issues

• provide technical expertise and support

• comment on existing and proposed legislation

• coordinate departmental responses

• provide possible funding from member agencies

• resolve agency-related issues

• comment on trail proposals.

This provides a good model but, again, it will be necessary to ensure that it is filled with the best people for the job to give it a fair chance of working. As with the community panel, it is also necessary to use this group wisely and frequently to ensure that they are well enough informed of trails issues and remain actively involved in the process. This group would complement the community group: it is a group of trail managers, a ‘doing’ group whereas the community panel takes a more strategic approach, although both groups would have interests in both aspects of trails.

The Regional Trails Working Group recommends the adoption of an interagency coordination panel, regardless of the coordination model chosen. This would help to ensure that all the issues identified above are addressed and that trail development is progressed where represented agencies are primary players in the issues at hand.

Comment sought

The working group is interested in comments about the role of any government coordination panel and any models of involvement with the coordinating agency that should be pursued.

3.4.5 State-wide applicability

It is worth noting that, while the work of any coordinating agency would be initially confined to south-east Queensland, any chosen model could be expanded to encompass the management of trails State-wide. Some regional planning initiatives such as the RFGM and the Integrated Regional Transport Plan have been developed in south-east Queensland and subsequently expanded to deal with similar issues elsewhere in Queensland. There is no reason the trails initiative should be treated any differently.

3.5 Challenge: Establishing a legislative basis

Recreational trails in south-east Queensland are presently under the management of separate State Government agencies, local governments and private organisations. The management of trails that extend across administrative boundaries and tenures has proven to be difficult without consistent policy, suitable legislation and a lead agency.

The key challenge for government is providing a suitable legislative support to ensure that trails planning and management on public and private freehold land (where a voluntary agreement has been entered into) is coordinated, comprehensive and complementary. The RTWG and others earlier have established that no single State Government or local government agency on its own has the land area, management resources or mandate to satisfy all demands for trails planning and management across south-east Queensland. Consequently, public-sector open-space management and outdoor recreation services are delivered by several agencies on areas managed in several different tenures.

3.5.1 Options for management

The legislative options for managing outdoor recreation including trails on lands and waters within the south-east Queensland include:

coordinated conservation areas under the Nature Conservation Act 1992

recreation areas declared under the Recreation Areas Management Act 1988

reserves for community purposes under the Land Act 1994

Brisbane Forest Park Act 1977

planning legislation administered by local governments.

Non-statutory options include:

contractual arrangements with individual landholders, involving Memoranda of Understanding

• the use of models such as land trusts and statutory covenants

• The RLS model.

The following section summarises the key features of these options. Appendix 2 provides more detail on the key features of each option.

Coordinated conservation areas

Coordinated conservation areas are formed by voluntary statutory arrangements for conserving nature across several contiguous land holdings regardless of the tenure and ownership. They are covered by a binding agreement between the State and a landholder and the landholder’s successors in title. They would be used for coordinating outdoor recreation such as trails across several different tenures where nature conservation is the major focus for coordinated planning and management.

To be included in a coordinated conservation area, the landholding must be the subject of a conservation agreement. This is a voluntary agreement between the landholder and the Minister responsible for nature conservation (currently the Minister for Environment) on behalf of the State. The agreement is binding on successive title-holders of the land and would not be changed by the Minister unless requested by the landholder. There is no provision for conservation agreements to operate without the Minister’s signature. Coordinated conservation areas are to be managed to:

conserve the area’s natural and cultural values by coordinated management involving the area’s various landholders

• take account of the area’s values, including its recreational, educational and commercial values

• provide for the interests of the various landholders to be maintained.

If the provisions of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 were to manage outdoor recreation within the south-east Queensland, the Environmental Protection Agency would be able to assume a greater responsibility for managing outdoor recreation on areas within the south-east Queensland Regional Landscape Strategy. The Nature Conservation Act does not provide the legislative basis for the management of recreation activities or other matters that are not focused on nature conservation and cultural heritage values (e.g. roads, other State land or freehold properties). The potential role for coordinated conservation areas to supply opportunities for trails development and management will depend on each landholder’s willingness to allow access and the purposes for which each landholding within the coordinated conservation area is managed.

Recreation areas

The Recreation Areas Management Act 1988 Act provides for the establishment of a system of recreation areas, with the agreement of participating landholders and may include land with multiple tenures. It provides a mechanism for the coordination, integration, improvement, planning, development and management of outdoor recreation in recreation areas, which can be declared over lands and waters (including the sea) in Queensland.

The Act is currently being reviewed and it is suggested that the review encompass the issue of whether the Act can be utilised more effectively to facilitate trail management.

Currently Green Island, Moreton Island, Fraser Island and Inskip Point are declared recreation areas.

Community reserves

The Land Act 1994 provides for a wide range of reserves for community purposes, which are managed by appointed trustees. The types include land reserved for:

beach protection and coastal management

• roads

• environmental purposes

• strategic land management

• heritage, historical and cultural purposes

• sport and recreation

• natural resource management

• public boat ramps, jetties and landing places

• open space and buffer zones

• travelling stock purposes

• parks and gardens

• watering places.

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines is responsible for the administration of the Land Acte. Access for outdoor recreation depends on the purposes for which a particular reserve for community purposes was established and the current management arrangements. As the list of types of reserves implies, some of these reserves are not intended to be available for recreation purposes.

The Brisbane Forest Park model

The Brisbane Forest Park Act 1977 provides for the management of public access and activities within the park and the management of park infrastructure. It provides the overarching management direction for the park, by stipulating a framework to manage and protect nature conservation, cultural heritage, scenic amenity, water catchment values and outdoor recreation opportunities. The key features of the Act are valuable as a model that could be applied to trails management in south-east Queensland. Importantly, for trails in the Regional iconic activity trails network, this model provides a way of managing across land tenures as it administers land held by a number of State agencies and local governments. Many of the trails likely to be in iconic network would travel across tenures.

Planning legislation administered by local governments

Consideration of regional land management priorities and the retention of public open space for trails, and the protection of landscape quality and ecological values of areas are the responsibility of local governments when they have policy or planning schemes are prepared. Planning schemes prepared by local government provide mechanisms for the implementation of the Integrated Planning Act 1997 (IPA) and the Land Act 1994.

The State Government identifies matters that are of State interest, including State programs and policies. One of these is the Regional Framework for Growth Management 2000 and the RLS, which have been developed in consultation with local governments and other key stakeholders.

Under the IPA, local governments have the discretion to secure trails of regional significance or land that will enhance the significance of an area through the provision of open-space corridors that link larger areas of regionally significant open space. These areas may perform one or more of several functions, that is protect the ecology, provide public outdoor recreation opportunities, or separate land uses. These lands may be secured by acquisition or the designation of land for community infrastructure at the time development applications are reviewed.

Securing trail networks through infrastructure charges is also a potential option; however, this is yet to be tested at the local level. Local governments are building trails but these are mostly found in road reserves or on other public land. The IPA provides a potential means of securing trails on freehold property as part of the planning and development assessment process. The benefit of this approach is the potential it offers to join trails on public lands that are severed by private property. Similarly, the depiction and protection of regional trails in a planning scheme would ensure that in all forward planning (of both infrastructure and land use) planners remain cognisant of such corridors and construct them with minimal impact on the landscape.

Advice from the Department of Local Government and Planning indicates that a local government may nominate alternatives for the infrastructure charges plan constituting agreements for assessable development proposals that provide, for example:

open-space corridors and riparian corridors to protect and enhance water quality and provide public access

• open-space corridors linking regionally significant reserves—these would make ideal trails

• open space to compliment existing reserves of regional significance that help retain the landscape character of a locality.

The imperatives of an individual local government to use the provisions of IPA to acquire land for community purposes that would enhance trail networks will vary across the region. The response of local governments to this issue is also likely vary in accordance with the level of priority given to open-space planning. A significant issue with using IPA planning schemes is that they usually apply to only one local government area, with no guarantee that a neighbouring local government will have the same view on trails and their development.

Local laws

Under the Local Government Act, local governments have the power to make local laws on a range of issues. It is possible that such laws could be made to facilitate trail construction.

Contractual arrangements

It may be possible to use non-statutory contractual arrangements between individual public-sector and private-sector landholders and an appropriate State Government agency (or agencies) as a means of managing trails and other outdoor activities in south-east Queensland. Such mechanisms should only be used with the consent of the landholder.

Memorandums of understanding (MOU) would provide these arrangements between cooperating public sector agencies that would use their existing legislation to manage land uses on areas under their control.

For private land, a statutory basis for the cooperative management of land uses may not be needed provided that a suitable contract can be developed. However, a statutory basis for financial management and for enabling any regulations to be enforced would still have to be provided.

Non-statutory contractual arrangements would not affect the title of the land. Consequently, each contract for each area of freehold land would have to be renegotiated whenever ownership changed.

Covenants

Recent amendments to the Land Act, Land Titles Act and the Integrated Planning Act allow for the placing of covenants on title. These covenants are binding on subsequent owner. This non-statutory option may be an appropriate tool in the management of some trails.

Queensland Trust for Nature

The State Government has made a commitment to introduce legislation to set up the Queensland Trust for Nature. Although details of how this will work are yet to be worked out, it is possible it could provide a further mechanism for securing trails. It should be noted, however, that the main purpose of the trust is to preserve land for nature conservation.

Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee

The use of open space organised as a network of trails is closely linked to the protection of regionally significant open space through the Regional Landscape Strategy for south-east Queensland. Section 5 of the RFGM implies that trails will be managed in conjunction with the Regional Landscape Strategy, and this might help harness the synergy between the planning for and use of open space.

3.5.2 Discussion

The adoption of a legislative model or contractual agreement to satisfy the coordination and management of regional trails may be based on the circumstances surrounding individual cases. In some instances a trail may traverse areas of high conservation value so the priority might be on protecting these values whilst allowing for trails activities as a secondary use.

Similarly, in other areas, the principal landscape value may be outdoor recreation and conservation may only be relevant in terms of good stewardship and resource management. In this situation, the appropriate management mechanism might need to be selected on its ability to meet the specific regional or local resource management need. Notwithstanding these, the above mechanisms provide a starting point for aligning trails development and trails management to the roles of an advocacy group.

Another possibility that could be considered is whether new legislation is needed. South Australia has recently passed the Recreational Greenways Act 2000, which provides for the establishment and maintenance of trails for recreational walking, cycling, horse riding, skating and similar purposes. Alternatively, it could be that no Act is needed and none of the legislation suggested above need be enacted as all the outcomes can be achieved by non-statutory mechanisms.

Comment sought

The working group is interested in comments about the utility of using any or a combination of the various legislative and non-legislative options in order to develop a quality trails network.

3.6 Challenge: Public risk and liability

In an increasingly litigious society, the issue of public risk and liability is becoming more critical for managers of recreation facilities, including trails. It has been suggested by members of the Working Group that land managers in Queensland are more acutely conscious of this issue than in other States and an overly cautious approach may have led to a decreasing willingness to construct outdoor recreational facilities.

Land managers have recognised the need to move forward on this matter and an on-going forum has been convened by the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation (QORF) to address the issue and determine some solutions, including the possibility of legislative change. QORF’s work is outlined below.

The RTWG also needs to remain cognisant of another issue that, as the trails community moves to promote an accessible network, user numbers may increase and that these users will have a series of expectations about the trails and trail safety.

3.6.1 Background

Public liability has become something of a minefield for managers of natural resources in recent years, with a series of cases culminating in the Nagle v Rottnest Island Authority (1993) 112 ALR 393, in which the High Court ruling seemed to place an ever-increasing burden of responsibility on land managers. More recently, in a Northern Territory case, Romeo v Conservation Commission (1998) 72 ALJR 208, the High Court decision has provided some clarification on the bounds of this responsibility. It should be noted that the RTWG has been advised that slightly different legal interpretations of the cases have made it difficult to be absolutely confident of any outcome (Brysland, 2000). One interpretation (Brysland, 2000) is that the outcome of the Romeo decision means that the risk that occupiers of land will be held liable for recreational users’ accidents is more imagined than real.

In Nagle, the land manager, the Rottnest Island Authority, was found to be liable because it failed to install warning signs that the submerged rock ledge in question was unsafe. Soon after, the Western Australian Supreme Court ruled along similar lines in Western Australia v Dale (1996) 90 LGERA 307, saying that the land manager was liable because warning signs had been inadequate. David Burton, a partner in Phillips Fox, has said (•••), ‘Such cases as these are a chilling indicator of the alarmingly high standard of care the courts are now placing on public authorities with regard to their duty of care owed to visitors who enter premises occupied or controlled by them.’

In Romeo, the High Court found against the claimant, a 15-year-old girl who had fallen off a 5 metre cliff late at night while influenced by alcohol, ruling that no warning sign would have been adequate to prevent the plaintiff taking the action she did, and that any other method of making the area safe (e.g. fences) would have ruined the very reason people came to the site (e.g. to enjoy the view). This ruling at first appeared to have considerably shifted the burden of responsibility back onto the individual—a shift that would have been met with delight by those providing outdoor recreation resources. However, under scrutiny, it appears that the High Court had simply differentiated between visible risks and invisible risks, ruling that the combination of factors that had led the girl to fall constituted an invisible risk and therefore was not the responsibility of land managers. The burden may have shifted, but not as much as land managers had hoped.

Given the range of interpretations possible, it is prudent that the manager of any proposed trail be aware that, whether or not visitors are actively encouraged to come to the trail, managers carry a significant duty of care towards visitors. The provision of high-quality trails is therefore critical from this perspective. There is no doubt that liability responsibility will rest with the trail developer and hence, every attempt should be made to minimise exposure to the risk of legal action. Trail proponents and managers need to recognise that the condition of trails in their control can pose a significant liability risk, particularly if they contain demonstrable hazards. It makes good sense to instigate a regular professional risk audit on all trails, and to attend to any hazards identified using a competent and efficient management and maintenance program.

Organisations such as Western Australia’s Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) now have a clearly defined risk-management procedure, with accompanying forms and processes. It is strongly recommended that trail managers take this more measured approach, and develop a risk-management strategy based on the CALM model.

Suggested solutions

In order to pre-empt legal action occurring in south-east Queensland, the RTWG recommends working on the following foundations, which are based on work done by the Ecotourism Research Group (1996, p.187). They are that:

trail users can expect to enjoy themselves in a safe place that meets their behavioural needs, their expectations varying depending on the nature of the trail

• there must be some degree of personal responsibility taken

• care must be taken to prevent foreseeable accidents, by ensuring adequate construction standards and efficient maintenance practices

• adequate warning being given about hazardous conditions or danger where such conditions exist but are not obvious

• protective devices and supervision being offered in an attempt to prevent accidents where such actions are in keeping with the nature of the trail and users’ expectations

• special risks and hazards occurring in unusual conditions being clearly marked.

In the United States, the notion of personal responsibility has been included in legislation. It should be noted that the best risk-management system would not entirely remove the chance of accidents happening or of legal redress being sought. However, it is important to minimise the chances of both.

The Western Australian Ministerial Taskforce on Trails Network (1995) suggests that the management requirements could be set out as a set of principles to be adopted to ensure liability limitation. They would include:

construct trails to meet safe, recognised guidelines, and contract risk-management consultants to ensure these standards are met

• ensure that trails remain under a rigorous maintenance program, with the program being practicable and achievable, and including regular inspections and prompt action to attend to known hazards

• implement a hazard-reporting system, which should enable the rapid reporting of and attention to potential hazards.

Land managers responsible for trails would translate these principles into three core areas of action as part of their operations plans. These are discussed below.

1. Construction

Trail construction must meet recognised, safe and established guidelines that are appropriate for the class of trail being built and the expectations of the majority of typical users. It is recognised that trails are invariably unique in that they are subject to widely varied local terrain and conditions and that, therefore, only broadly applicable standards are possible. Nonetheless, individual trail developers must consider who the trail is to cater for, the capability levels of the main user groups, and the nature of the experience the trail developer might be seeking to provide. Trails should then be built to accommodate these. Risk-management consultants with experience in recreation trails should be contracted to ensure these standards are met.

2. Prevention: maintenance and management

An effective risk-prevention program requires the use of well-documented, regular maintenance schedules, including regular inspections to detect and repair possible hazards, for all facilities. A combination of management staff, volunteers, and trail users should be utilised to ensure maximum hazard detection. A maintenance schedule, hazard inspection checklist and frequency schedule should be compiled before the trail is opened, and mechanisms set in place to ensure these processes are regularly carried out according to the prescribed schedule.

It should be ensured that whoever is charged with ongoing responsibility for managing and maintaining the trails have genuine and specific trail knowledge; it is not sufficient to be a skilled gardener, conservationist or environmental scientist. If training is required to bring staff knowledge levels up to a high standard, this should be seen as a priority to be undertaken early in the planning process. Trail skills are better learned over a longer time, with hands-on practice, than in short, pressured briefing sessions.

The use of a safety checklist is critical in the management of accident prevention. It is a practical way to prevent foreseeable accidents because it prompts employees and supervisors to systematically inspect for hazardous conditions and remedy these before an accident occurs. A safety checklist is a visible way to translate the safety policy of an agency into action, and ensure field employees and supervisors are accountable for their performance. The checklist becomes a vehicle for hazard reporting, in addition to documenting the managing authority’s awareness of and commitment to accident prevention. In litigation, the safety checklist can serve as evidence of a public agency’s intentions to identify and remedy hazardous conditions.

3. Reporting on and follow-up procedures for injuries

The managing authority should prepare an internal incident reporting and investigation procedure to document the facts of any injury or accident and to prevent such a situation recurring. All claims should be treated genuinely; it is not up to staff to decide who is liable. Staff must observe the following procedures: record all information; investigate all issues as soon as possible; provide immediate medical care; complete an incident report form, including on it names witnesses and how to contact them, and the location of incident; close the area; describe the area carefully, obtaining and documenting as much information as possible; and let the insurance manager know who is giving testimony.

The adoption of this kind of system would be consistent with advice from LOGOV Risk Management Services (Ecosystem Reseach Group, 1996), which said:

If the occupier is to discharge the duty of care imposed by common law, it must institute a system of inspection and maintenance that is, in fact, the best (highest) it can reasonably afford and which is consistent with its other statutory responsibilities and financial, budgetary, social and political considerations.

The WA ministerial taskforce argued that the adoption of such a system represents a formidable obstacle to proving negligence on behalf of the land manager. These provisions are designed to prevent any injuries arising from use of the trail, and to ensure that trail managers are only liable for bona fide negligence claims. Trail managers who ensure that this system is followed can expect to maximise the safety of a trail, and thus decrease the number of incidents that may result in a claim. Additional considerations in adopting such a system are that:

any system needs to be implemented by the agency—it is no good just simply having the system in place without implementation

• any system must have the official support of the management agency

• these additions help to strengthen any legal case the management agency may have to make.

The Regional Trails Working Group suggests that a system of principles and management such as that outlined above may go some way towards reducing concerns that land managers have over liability.

3.6.2 Liability insurance

The WA ministerial taskforce found that prospective land managers (particularly local governments) see the threat of liability as a major deterrent because of the prohibitively high insurance premiums they expected to pay and, if they didn’t take out insurance, the possibility of expensive compensation. However, this belief appeared not to be grounded in experience: on conducting its research, the taskforce found that insurance to cover trails is not prohibitively expensive. In Western Australia, the existing mandatory public liability insurance of local governments, which assume managerial responsibility for most trails, is unlikely to increase with the addition of any more trails to their policy.

3.6.3 Conclusion

Although public liability is certainly an issue for all land managers, it is not a reason to turn away from providing safe, sustainable and enjoyable recreation facilities. It should underpin a recognition of the responsibilities morally inherent in managing natural resources. Danger canot be removed totally: dealing with a threat of liability is about doing all that is reasonably possible to minimise the threat. There is no doubt trail managers are obliged to provide safe access opportunities on land and resources in its control, and the recommendations made in this paper should facilitate this end being achieved. Brysland (2000) also makes the point that land managers as a group may be less inclined to grant access for certain activities given the fluid legal situation and the differing legal interpretations. Work by the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation will progress this issue.

The Western Australian ministerial taskforce concluded that the issue of liability does not have to be the constraint it is generally made out to be. There is no impediment to insurance coverage, as is often the belief, and with a stringent safety strategy, accidents on trails should be kept to a minimum.

4. Conclusion

In this paper, the RTWG has discussed a number of issues that have been raised by members of the trails community over the last two years. Trails provide a range of opportunities and benefits for residents of south-east Queensland and for visitors to this region. These benefits include economic benefits, health benefits, lifestyle benefits, tourism benefits and personal benefits.

However, if these are to be fully realised, work needs to be done to resolve several issues. These issues are:

ensuring that trails have a champion that will advocate the advantages of trails to government at all levels and the community

• establishing a ‘home’ in statutory law to help ensure the legal integrity of trails

• recognising and covering public risk and liability

• drawing on and fully utilising the community support for individual trails and regional networks

• providing a certain funding base for trail development, including for maintenance and marketing

• providing a focus for funding priorities, and marketing strategies to help establish south-east Queensland as a prime location in which to participate in outdoor recreation through the development of a regional iconic activity trails network.

This phase of work of the Regional Trails Working Group marks the beginning of a process to establish south-east Queensland as a prime location for outdoor recreation, and has discussed many of the issues that need to be considered in developing trails. In doing this, it has sometimes suggested definitive solutions; in other cases, it has put forward options that need further work. This approach has been taken as a result of the need to seek further community guidance as to the next steps to take. In addition, the Regional Trails Working Group has had only limited resources to bring to the project.

4.1 The next phase

The next phase of work will require definitive recommendations on the issues developed in this paper and will require the finalisation of a strategic plan. A draft strategic plan (see appendix 3) includes issues flagged in this paper that need further work and other actions the RTWG believes are appropriate to the development of a trails network. It should be noted that, in Western Australia, two years elapsed between the finalisation of the taskforce reporting on the trail network and the finalisation of the strategic plan by Trailswest. South-east Queensland can benefit from this experience and have a shorter time frame to have these two key elements put in place. The working group is seeking community comment on the actions contained in it as a way of advancing the trails agenda.

 

Appendix 1. The history of the regional trails initiative

1. Regional trails initiative

Investigations into regional trails began in late 1999 with a survey of trail users, trail managers and local governments in south-east Queensland conducted by EDAW Australia. The principal finding of this survey was

‘the overwhelming need for an entity to address trails funding, marketing, development and maintenance across local government boundaries and multiple land tenures’.

2. Regional Trails Forum

In March 2000, the Regional Landscape Strategy (RLS) commissioned the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation (QORF), the peak industry body representing outdoor recreation interests in Queensland, to host Queensland’s first Regional Trails Forum.

The Regional Trails Forum was opened on behalf of the Minister for Natural Resources by the Director-General of the department and was attended by 85 delegates from all levels of government, the tourism and outdoor recreation industry and the community.

3. Trail stakeholders

The forum identified the following stakeholders with interests in regional trails in south-east Queensland:

user groups (current and future)

• government agencies (local, State, federal, international)

• environmental groups

• commercial operators

• landowners and other affected landholders

• Indigenous groups, holders of native title

• other primary users of land (bee-keepers, water conservation personnel)

• researchers

• State Emergency Service and police

• rural fire brigades

• the armed forces

• flora and fauna groups

• tourism groups (Queensland and national)

• accommodation providers and other local community providers (food, fuel, transport)

• quarantine services

• education

• correctional services

• legal and insurance companies

• timber industry

• seed and horticultural collectors

(Queensland Transport, 2000)

4. Trail users

Existing and potential users of regional trails were identified as:

2WD and 4WD users

• artists

• birdwatchers

• campers

• canoeists and kayakers

• community groups (e.g. Scouts, Guides)

• educational institutions (i.e. schools, TAFEs, Universities)

• historical, cultural and conservation groups

• horse riders (using trails, endurance, trials)

• hunters

• Indigenous groups

• jet skiers

• joggers and power walkers

• long distance and endurance competitors

• military and defence forces

• motor and sail boat enthusiasts

• mountain bikers

• naturalists

• orienteers and rogainers

• photographers

• rally drivers

• research groups and scientists

• rock climbers

• tourism groups

• trail bikers (i.e. general, cross country, trials)

5. Regional Trails Working Group (RTWG)

The Regional Trails Working Group was established as a partnership between the Queensland Government, the Regional Organisation of Councils, south-east Queensland local governments, peak recreation bodies and the community. The coordinator of the Southern Regional Organisations of Councils chairs the group. Its terms of reference are to:

explore institutional arrangements

• develop an iconic regional network

• investigate and report on health and economic benefits

• investigate and report on recreation and environmental benefits

• investigate rails to trails potential

• investigate the regulatory environment for trails development and management.

The RTWG reports via its chair to the RLSAC and is required to present a draft strategy to the RLSAC within six months.

 

Appendix 2. Legislative option: key elements

Coordinated conservation areas under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld)

The key features of coordinated conservation areas are described below.

1. Coordinated conservation areas may include areas of various tenures (including freehold).

2. Coordinated conservation areas last for a period specified by either a conservation agreement with a private landholder or a memorandum of understanding with another government agency. (Both conservation agreements and memoranda of understanding can be thought of as contracts for the management of an area covered by a coordinated conservation area.)

3. A memorandum of understanding is established between the Minister and the responsible government agency where local or State Government holds reserve land in trust.

4. Conservation agreements for coordinated conservation areas are binding with the title of land covered by the conservation agreement.

5. Conservation agreements may be terminated where there is agreement between the landholder or the landholders’ successor and the Minister for Environment and Heritage.

6. The Environmental Protection Agency and the landholders involved in each coordinated conservation area are the management authorities; the roles and responsibilities of each should be identified in the terms of a management plan for the area.

7. Section 23 of the Nature Conservation Act provides for the formation of an advisory committee or body to allow land managers to have input in the coordinated management of the conservation area.

8. Land uses are managed under the terms of a conservation agreement or memorandum of understanding and/or a management plan for the area.

9. A conservation agreement or memorandum of understanding allows for coordinated management of a group of contiguous land holdings to conserve natural and/or cultural values while concurrently allowing the existing land uses to be maintained.

10. A conservation agreement may contain terms that are binding on the State and the landholder (and successors) and that prohibit or restrict use of the land (s. 45(6)) of the Act.

11. Coordinated conservation areas are to be managed to:

conserve natural and cultural values by coordinated management involving the area’s various landholders

• take account of the recreational, educational and commercial values of the area

• provide for the interests of the various landholders to be maintained.

Recreation areas declared under the Recreation Areas Management Act 1988 (Qld)

The following are the key features of a recreation area under the Recreation Areas Management Act 1998 (Qld).

1. Recreation areas are intended ‘…to provide, coordinate, integrate and improve recreational planning, recreational facilities and recreational management on Recreation Areas taking into account their conservation, recreation, education and production values and the interests of the proprietors...’ (Recreation Areas Management Act Amendment Act 1990).

2. The Recreation Areas Management Authority is constituted by the Ministers responsible for the Forestry Act 1959 (Qld) and the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld). This authority is responsible for the administration of the Recreation Areas Management Act.

3. The Queensland Recreation Areas Management Board currently consists of the chief executives (or their nominees) of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Natural Resources (Section 15).

4. The Recreation Areas Management Authority may appoint advisory committees to advise the board on such matters referred by the board. One advisory committee would be established for each recreation area.

5. Programs of management are determined by the Recreation Management Areas Board that is accountable to government for the expenditure of allocated funds for recreation areas.

6. The Recreation Areas Management Authority cannot enforce regulations or permit or encourage activities that conflict with the objectives and management intent of the legislation implemented for the management of the land within a recreation area.

7. Operational works within a recreation area are undertaken by the most appropriate land management agency under the direction of the board, (e.g. shire council, EPA or NRM).

8. Where a recreation area extends beyond a reserve, staff appointed and funded by the Recreation Management Areas Board may undertake resource management tasks. Such tasks may be undertaken by private landholders and funded through the board. The regulations and by-laws established by the board for a recreation area will apply.

9. Establishment of a recreation area does not diminish the rights or responsibilities of individual landholders.

10. The board shall prepare a management plan specifying recreational objectives for planning, development and management of the recreation area as soon as practical after the area is established (Section 20).

11. The board holds authority and heads of power to manage outdoor recreation planning and management, and a comprehensive set of outdoor recreation fees, rules and regulations that can be used on lands in any tenure and on water (including rivers lakes and inshore coastal waters) in any jurisdiction (s. 18(4)).

12. The board has the authority to collect funds from users of recreation facilities and services within recreation areas and to establish trust funds to retain and manage user fees (s. 18, Part 1, 9(c)).

13. The board may charge fees for visitor access recreation activities and commercial activities.

14. Funds accumulated by the trust fund can only be used for the purposes of the Act. As a result, the trust retains funds, and revenue is not forwarded to consolidated revenue.

15. Commercial activity can legally occur only if a permit to do so has been obtained from the Recreation Areas Management Board.

16. The Recreation Areas Management Board may recommend to the Governor in Council the appointment of trustees to accept delegated powers and responsibilities (s. 18, Part 2, and s. 19).

17. With the voluntary agreement of the landholder, private freehold land may be included in a recreation area. Sections 8, 10, 11, and 12 apply to any freehold land included in a recreation area. To date, no private freehold land has been included in any such area.

18. Where agreement is entered into with a landholder and an area is set apart to be included in the recreation area, the details of the area and particulars of the agreement are registered on the freehold title (s. 10(1) and s. 10(2)).

19. The agreement and the title endorsement may be cancelled on the agreement of the freehold landholder and the board.

20. The relationship between the Recreation Areas Management Board and recreation area landholders is defined by a written (i.e. contractual) agreement (s. 8(3)).

21. Landholders and land managing agencies with a proprietary interest over land within a recreation area usually maintain control of all non-recreational land uses.

22. Recreation areas are not intended to prevent or diminish the main purpose for which any land, which is part of the recreation area, is managed (s. 12).

Reserves for community purposes under the Land Act 1994 (Qld)

The key features of this Act are as follows.

1. Access for outdoor recreation depends on the purposes for which a particular reserve for community purposes was established and the current management arrangements. The model by-laws provide for the establishment of site-specific regulations for land use.

2. Some reserves for community purposes are not intended to be available for recreation purposes. The Act, in (s. 30, Part 1) prescribes that the purpose or management intent of any of reserve is not diminished by inappropriate land uses.

3. Operational or day-to-day management is provided through the appointment of trustees for a particular reserve. The Department of Natural Resources and Mines does not directly provide operational management of these reserves.

4. Competent authorities such as local governments or State government departments other than the Department of Natural Resources and Mines are usually appointed as trustees.

5. The terms and conditions of trustees are variable and specified under the lease agreement terms and conditions established for individual sites.

6. Comprehensive regulations and by-laws for managing outdoor recreation, including powers to issue permits, collect fees, enforce rules, direct people to leave the area, construct and maintain infrastructure, etc. are used for managing outdoor recreation on State Forests, national parks and recreation areas and reserves.

7. The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has implemented the Land Amendment Regulation No.1, 1999, providing a comprehensive statutory mechanism (i.e. by-laws) for managing outdoor recreation on reserves for community purposes.

Brisbane Forest Park Act 1977 (Qld)

The key features of this Act are as follows.

1. The Brisbane Forest Park Act 1977 (Qld) provides the overarching management direction of the park area administered by the Minister for Environment, and includes lands managed by:

Environmental Protection Agency

• City of Ipswich

• Shire of Esk

• Shire of Pine Rivers

2. The Act provides a framework to manage and protect nature conservation, cultural heritage, scenic amenity, water catchment values and outdoor recreation opportunities.

3. The rights and obligations of individual land proprietors are not affected by this Act except for the provisions expressed in this Act.

4. Each member agency is represented on the Brisbane Forest Park Advisory Planning Board. The Governor in Council appoints members of the board on the recommendation of the Minister for Environment for a term of three years.

5. The functions of the Brisbane Forest Park Advisory Planning Board are to:

prepare a constitution and statement of objectives

• plan and develop the park for public recreational use

• manage the park

• provide advice and recommendations to the administration authority.

6. The Brisbane Forest Park Administration Authority is a corporation solely constituted by the Act and is legally capable of suing and being sued and has the power to acquire, hold, sell, exchange, hire, lease and let property. The authority does not have power to lease areas of the park or enter into arrangements to lease other areas of land.

7. Brisbane Forest Park Administration Authority was established to:

plan, develop and manage parklands for recreational use

• provide improvements on public lands consistent with the management of the park

8. The park includes public lands held under various tenures and managed by different government landowners under various legislation and policy priorities including:

land administered under the Land Act 1994 (Qld), managed by a statutory body, corporation, land granted in trust to a local government or trust body.

• national park areas within the Brisbane Forest Park are managed under the Nature Conservation Act 1994(Qld), by the Environmental Protection Agency.

• State forests are managed under the Forestry Act 1959 (Qld) by the Environmental Protection Agency

• dedicated roads are excluded from Brisbane Forest Park .

9. Lands may be added to or excluded from the park on the recommendation of the Brisbane Forest Park Administration Authority as made to the Governor in Council.

10. The Brisbane Forest Park Administration Authority may make by-laws approved by the Governor in Council to provide for matters such as:

planning and development of the park

• management and control of lands and property under the control of the authority

• regulation of public use and control of visitor and commercial activities

• protection of fauna within the park.

11. Funding for the management and development of the Park is provided through the EPA budget process. A Brisbane Forest Park Fund has been established for the management of revenue collected from fees and charges. This revenue supplements the budget allocation from EPA.

Planning legislation administered by local governments

Consideration of regional land management priorities and retention of public open space for trails, protection of landscape quality and ecological values of areas are the responsibility of local government when local government policy or planning schemes are prepared. Such planning schemes provide mechanisms for the implementation of The Integrated Planning Act 1997 (Qld)(IPA) and the Land Act 1994.

The Integrated Planning Act, (s. 2.1.4) requires local authority planning schemes to coordinate and integrate the matters dealt with by the scheme, including core matters which may have local, regional or State dimensions. Where regionally significant landscape values extend beyond local administrative boundaries, State and local government land management authorities are obliged to consider regional planning initiatives.

The State government identifies matters of State interest including State programs and policies. These include the Regional Framework for Growth Management 2000 and the Regional Landscape Strategy (RLS) that have been developed in consultation with local government and key stakeholder representatives.

The principles of the RLS have implications for the preparation of planning schemes. These refer to ‘appropriate designation of land’ and the protection of open space values and functions of lands with regional significance.

Planning schemes provide the means by which State and regional issues such as the protection of regionally significant and/or environmentally sensitive areas can be addressed, coordinated and integrated with local issues such as urban development.

Under the IPA, local government may have the discretion to secure trails of regional significance or land that will enhance the regional significance of an area through the provision of open space corridors linking larger regionally significant open space areas. These areas may protect ecological functions, provide public outdoor recreation opportunities, or separate land uses. They may be secured by acquisition or designation of land for community infrastructure at the time of review of development applications.

The core matters Schedule 1, s. 4(1) for the preparation of planning schemes defines ‘land use development’ in s. 4(2) and ‘valuable features’ in s. 4(3). These matters are to be considered in the preparation of planning schemes. In the IPA, land-use development includes:

the location of, and relationships between, various land uses

• the effects of land use and development

• how mobility between places is facilitated

Valuable features are defined as:

ecologically significant resources and areas

• areas that contribute significantly to amenity

• areas of social, cultural or heritage significance

• resources and areas of economic value.

The intention of the IPA is that local government should coordinate statutory approvals and land-use controls and ensure that matters beyond local significance are integrated into planning schemes. Valuable features as listed in Schedule 1, s. 4(3), are equivalent or closely linked to the open space values described under the RLS.

Securing trail networks through infrastructure charges is also a potential option, however this is yet to be tested at the local level. Local governments are building trails, but these are mostly on road reserves or other public lands. The IPA provides a potential means of securing trails on freehold property as part of the planning and development assessment process. The benefit of this approach is the potential ability to join trails on public lands that are severed by private property. Similarly, the depiction and protection of regional trails in a planning scheme would ensure all forward planning (both infrastructure and land-use) is cognisant of such corridors and constructed with minimal impact.

A local authority may set desired standards of service under the infrastructure charges plan. The nominated desired standards must be defendable and realistically achieved by the applicants and the local authority. Advice from the Department of Communication, Information, Local Government, Planning and Sport indicates that a local authority may nominate alternatives for the infrastructure charges plan constituting agreements for assessable development proposals, which provide:

open space and riparian corridors to protect and enhance water quality and provide public access

• open space corridors (trails) linking regionally significant reserves

• open space to compliment existing regionally significant reserves to help retain the landscape character of a locality. (s. 5.1.15(1))

To support the preparation of infrastructure charges plans or infrastructure agreements, local governments will need to assess the landscape and land uses within the local authority area and consider connectivity with adjoining local authority areas. This assessment will assist preparation of infrastructure charges plans and infrastructure agreements. The provisions for preparation of agreements are set out in IPA (ss. 5.2.2 and 5.2.3).

The imperatives of an individual local authority to use the provisions of the IPA to acquire land for community purposes that would enhance trail networks will vary across the region. The response of local authorities to this issue will also vary with the priority given to open-space planning at the time of the planning scheme review.

 

Appendix 3. Strategic plan

1.0 Introduction

The Queensland Government has a vision for an integrated network of regional trails throughout south-east Queensland. This strategic plan is a vehicle for delivering that vision.

The Regional Trails Working Group (RTWG) represents many stakeholders who support the development of regional trails in south-east Queensland. This plan encourages cooperative efforts between the broader community, recreation groups, the tourism industry, local government and state agencies in the development and management of trails throughout the region.

The strategic plan has been prepared as an internal working document for the RTWG and RLSAC. It will be reviewed in accordance with consultation undertaken with the broader trails community, trail managers and recreation groups across south-east Queensland.

2.0 Trails South East Strategic Plan

The Trails South East Strategic Plan presents goals, principles and actions for addressing regional trail issues and opportunities in south-east Queensland. The plan is the way forward for addressing opportunities and challenges and for establishing a regional trails coordinating body.

The goals and actions have been derived from the preceding issues paper and are closely aligned to the five challenges facing trails in south-east Queensland. The RTWG (working) Vision for Trails South East is

‘a high quality network of regional trails showcasing an attractive region and providing recreation, tourism, health and education benefits’.

3.0 Goals, Principles and actions

1: Coordination

Goal:

To coordinate an integrated network of trails linking regionally significant open space areas and regional landscape areas through processes of planning, development, management, monitoring and ongoing maintenance.

Principles:

equity and access for all legitimate user groups.

• planning before construction; regional and area plans before individual trail plans.

• environmental sustainability

• quality is better than quantity.

• personal responsibility before management liability.

Action

Priority

A. Prepare and map an inventory of existing trails

High

B. Stocktake trail development opportunities

Medium

C. Finalise the Regional iconic activity trails network through refinement of selection criteria and extensive public consultation

High

D. Prioritise future trail development to provide a diversity of experience and to reflect demand, funding availability, usage patterns and trends

Medium

E. Develop appropriate mechanisms for management of tenure issues

High

F. Work with State agencies and the recreation industry to develop mechanisms to minimise liability risk for trail managers

High

G. Consult EPA and QPWS in the development of new and/or renewed trail corridor

High

H. Prepare an inventory of all trail development funding sources, including recommendations on any necessary legislative amendments

High

I. Prepare an inventory of all potential non-financial trail resources

High

J. Establish a corporate sponsorship program

Medium

K. Develop protocols to integrate non-financial resources into the trail development process

Medium

L. Prepare model south-east Queensland trail management and maintenance plans

Low

 

2: Facilitation

Goal

Ensure trail initiatives are facilitated through an effective network of regional and local trail groups and local and State government agencies working in partnership.

Principles:

trails development should be demand driven

• widespread, ongoing community involvement ensures long-term sustainability

• coordination, cooperation and communication between trail stakeholders.

Action

Priority

A. Negotiate memoranda of understanding with relevant government agencies and non-government stakeholders to ensure a common approach to trail development

High

B. Finalise institutional arrangements for coordinated trail management in south-east Queensland

High

 

3: Information

Goal:

Establish an accessible database of information, expertise and development programs for use by trail groups, users, advocates and agencies.

Principles:

create empowerment, not dependency, through information sharing

• lever existing expertise to maximise benefits

• encourage innovation

• share resources.

Action

Priority

A. Research and disseminate local, national and international information on trails

Medium

B. Produce a trails planning manual including guidelines for trail planning, design and construction

Low

C. Establish a series of factsheets:

how to establish and manage an effective trail organisation

• how to overcome trail opposition

• how to minimise user conflicts on recreation trails

• how to promote and market your trail and deal with the media

• how to undertake surveys and research, gather information and use other supporting documentation

• how to sign, mark and provide interpretation factors affecting your trial

• how to assess and accommodate environmental factors affecting your trail

• how to effectively maintain an existing trail using volunteers

Medium

D. Establish a free web site with trails information

Low

4: Promotion

Goal:

Build community and visitor awareness of the benefits and opportunities of trails by marketing trails as a cost-effective, healthy and widely accessible sustainable nature-based recreation resource.

Principles:

trails have widespread economic, tourism, health and lifestyle benefits to local communities beyond established recreation and heritage values

• trails provide opportunities to the widest possible spectrum of the community

• all trails have unique and definable maximum carrying capacities

• existing trail and transport corridors are an invaluable community resource.

Action

Priority

A. Develop and deliver a community awareness campaign highlighting the many benefits of trails

High

B. Develop a ‘Guide to Trails in south-east Queensland’ book, and update annually

Low

C. Establish guidelines for maps, brochures and other promotional activities

Low

D. Coordinate the preparation and distribution of maps, brochures and other promotional material

Low

E. Work with tourism agencies to develop a trails promotional package

Medium

F. Work with other government agencies to ensure continued public ownership of disused railway reserves and other potential trail corridors

High

G. Investigate opportunities for rails-with-trails and utilities-with-trails

High

H. Research and collate maps of old forestry rail and tram systems

High

I. Develop protocols to integrate non-financial resources into the trail development process

Medium

 

5: Representation

Goal:

Establish strong ownership and effective partnership for Trails South East through encouraging adequate funding, resourcing and promoting community involvement.

Principles:

leadership and advocacy fulfil community expectations and government policy

• stability of appointment and skills of staff underpin success

• security of funding ensures strategic viability.

Action

Priority

A. Develop a marketing plan for trails in south-east Queensland including brochures, electronic presentations, newsletters, the Internet, etc.

High

B. Brief government and community groups on the value of trails on a regular basis

Medium

C. Ensure government funding for ongoing operations of the trails in south-east Queensland

High

D. Provide administrative support to developing the trails initiative in south-east Queensland

High

E. Regional Trails Working Group advises and updates the Regional Landscape Strategy Advisory Committee of the progress of the trails initiative

High

F. Undertake a review of the strategy for trails in south-east Queensland on an annual basis

Low

G. Develop performance criteria for the coordinating group and review its performance at end of three years

Low

 

 

 

References

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Albone, P. (2000) ‘Marketing Victoria’s trails’, First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, 11–13 May, 2000, Victorian Tracks and Trails Coordinating Committee, Victoria.

Albone, P. & Bowker, B. (2000) ‘Best practice in the development of long distance walking trails’, First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, 11–13 May, 2000, Victorian Tracks and Trails Coordinating Committee, Victoria.

Appalachian Trail Conference (2000) Annual report 2000.

Australian Sports Commission (1997) Active Australia: A National Participation Framework, Australian Sports Commission, Canberra.

Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail (2000), web site, URL <http://www.home.vicnet.net.au/~bnt/welcome.htm>, last updated 1 Januray 2000, accessed 8 May 2001.

Berman J.D. & Berman D. (1999) ‘The use of adventure-based programs with at-risk youth’, in Adventure Programming, eds C.J. Miles & S. Priest, Venture Publishing, State College, Pennsylvania.

Bicentennial National Trail (1997) The Bicentennial National Trail: Proposal to the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Bicentennial National Trail, Brisbane.

Boden, C. (2000) ‘The Tasmanian Trail’, First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, 11–13 May, 2000, Victorian Tracks and Trails Coordinating Committee, Victoria.

Boshe Group (2001) Research Report: Attitudes of Users Toward the Mundaring Recreation Trails, draft report, Trailswest, Mundaring Shire, WA Mountain Bike Association & Friends of the Bibbulmun Track, Perth.

Brysland, G. (2000) ‘QORF litigation workshop’, paper presented at Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation litigation workshop, Sports House, Milton (Brisbane), 28 October 2000, unpub.

Burke R. (1998) ‘The role of the Outdoor Recreation Council of Australia in building social capital’, in Proceedings of the Leading Outdoor Organisations, 6–8 July 1998, Outdoor Recreation Council of Australia, Sydney.

Capital Regional District Parks [n.d.] Welcome to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, web site, URL <http://www.sookenet.com/sooke/activity/trails/goose.html>, Capital Regional District Parks, Victoria, British Columbia, accessed 8 May 2001.

Department of Natural Resources & Department of Emergency Services (1998) The South East Queensland Outdoor Recreation Demand Study, Department of Natural Resources & Department of Emergency Services, Brisbane.

Ecotourism Research Group (1996) Local Government Ecotourism Trails Planning, Design and Development Guide: A Report to Southern Regional Organisation of Councils, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.

Golding, B. (2000) Volunteers and the Great South West Walk, First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, 11–13 May, 2000, Victorian Tracks and Trails Coordinating Committee, Victoria.

Graham, O. (2000) ‘The Otago Central Rail Trail: A first in New Zealand’, First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, 11–13 May, 2000, Victorian Tracks and Trails Coordinating Committee, Victoria.

Grocke, C. (2000) ‘Private Rural Walkways in New Zealand’, First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, 11–13 May, 2000, Victorian Tracks and Trails Coordinating Committee, Victoria.

Hepper, J. (2000) ‘Take a walk on the wild side: A strategic response to walks’, Landscape Australia, isue 1, pp. 10–12.

Holliday, N. (2000) The national trails of England and their tourism contribution’, First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, 11–13 May, 2000, Victorian Tracks and Trails Coordinating Committee, Victoria.

Lotteries Commission of Western Australia [n.d.] Trails Funding Program Information Group, Perth.

Maher Brampton Associates (2001) State Trails Master Plan (Draft), Ministry of Sport and Recreation, Perth.

Ministerial Taskforce on Trails Network (1995) Trailswest: A Report to the Western Australian Government on Recreational Trails, Ministry of Sport and Recreation, Perth.

Owen, H. (1997) ‘It’s all about health’, Australian Cyclist, April–May.

Parker, A.A. (1999) ‘Can Australia become an International cycle tourist destination?’, Australian Cyclist, October–November, pp. 56–57.

Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation (2000) Report on the Regional Trails Forum, 27th March 2000, Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation, Milton.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (2000) Master Plan for Queensland’s Parks System: Discussion Paper, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Brisbane.

Queensland Transport (2000) Cycle South East: Integrated Cycle Strategy for South East Queensland, Queensland Transport Brisbane.

‘Rail trail wins national award’ (2001) Local Government Focus, January, p. 3.

Regional Coordination Committee (1995), South East Queensland Regional Framework for Growth Management 1995, Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning, Brisbane.

Regional Coordination Committee (2000), South East Queensland Regional Framework for Growth Management 2000, Department of Communication and Information, Local Government and Planning, and Sport, Brisbane.

Regional Planning Advisory Group (1993) Open Space and Recreation: A Policy Paper of the SEQ2001 Project, Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning, Brisbane.

Rose, C. & Anderson, G. (2000) ‘The Australian Alps walking track: What future?’, First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, 11–13 May, 2000, Victorian Tracks and Trails Coordinating Committee, Victoria.

Shrimpton, B. (2000) ‘One small step’, First Australian Tracks and Trails Conference, 11–13 May, 2000, Victorian Tracks and Trails Coordinating Committee, Victoria.

Trailswest (1998) Trailswest Strategic Plan 1998, Ministry of Sport and Recreation, Perth.

Wood, J. (1999) SEQ Regional Trails: Current Issues and Priorities: A Discussion Paper Prepared for the Regional Landscape Unit, Department of Natural Resources, EDAW Australia, Brisbane.

 

 

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