By MICHELLE SLATER
FRIENDS of the Earth is raising concerns over illegal off-road tracks being harrowed into the Mullungdung Flora and Fauna Reserve causing erosion and threatening wildlife.
FOE land use researcher Anthony Amis estimates there are “hundreds of kilometres” of unregulated tracks which he suspects were created by dirt bike riders.
Mr Amis regularly conducts Strzelecki koala surveys in the bush reserve and said he was particularly concerned about a series of jumps tracks forged in a gully off Morris Creek.
He said there were several tracks criss-crossing over a few hectares causing erosion and exposing the roots of Mountain Grey eucalyptus in prime koala habitat.
Mr Amis said he was also concerned over damage caused to delicate orchids species growing in the area, some of which are endangered.
“It’s pretty full on, there are tracks puncturing all through Mullungdung. This is substantial as it’s a lot of land being dug up by motorbike riders,” Mr Amis said.
“It has to stop in these important areas, as once these tracks are opened up other riders will come in and it’s a constant degradation of the environment.”
Mr Amis said he was filing a report with authorities and called for compliance officers to step in and monitor the illegal activities and issue fines.
He said the tracks had been created without any regard to environmental planning, but he was unaware if the riders were locals or from elsewhere.
“These reserves are for the entire state and these guys don’t have a clue what they are potentially damaging, they are not taking into account the consequences of their actions,” Mr Amis said.
“I’m not here to shut down the sport but they need to stick to existing tracks. This is giving the sport a bad name.”
Motorbike and trail bike riding is permitted on formed roads in parks and reserves, but is not permitted anywhere on land managed by Parks Victoria.
Parks Victoria central Gippsland district manager Helen Dixon said authorities were aware of the damage being caused by illegal off-road motorbikes in the Mullungdung Flora and Fauna Reserve.
“Park rangers are working hard to help identify and stop this activity,” Ms Dixon said.
“We want everyone to enjoy the bush. Driving or riding, by keeping to designated tracks and roads you are helping to protect our natural environment, and in this case the rare and threatened flora of the Mullungdung Flora and Fauna Reserve.”