A: The Gleniffer Valley is a spectacular place often frequented by locals and visitors. Adjacent State Forest and National Park areas are also increasingly becoming popular recreational destinations and this increased use needs to be managed.
Over the last 2 years, there has been no active promotion of the Gleniffer area by Council or other industry partners. This was done to assist Council in minimising further impacts by increased visitation and to investigate and develop strategies to better manage the Gleniffer reserves. With social media a key medium for sharing holiday pictures and travel places, this has contributed to some increases in visitation.
Working with Forestry Corporation of NSW, the Never Never Catchment Group, residents, the broader Bellingen Shire community and other key stakeholders has seen the development of the Gleniffer Master Plan (2016) and the more recently adopted Gleniffer Plan of Management (2018). Both of these documents aim to address social and environmental issues relating to the Gleniffer reserves.
Sustainability is a key principle of the Master Plan’s intent. There are a large range of issues that need addressing and those works have been prioritised based on the relative urgency for action to preserve the environment. The Master Plan provides sustainable design and management solutions for visitation during peak periods, guides site usage and identifies actions to take to address adverse visitor behaviour.
This includes new and improved infrastructure at each of the reserves with design solutions and recommendations having regard to flood activity and the impact of the riverine environment.
The Masterplan provides a strategy and allows the available funds to target the actions that will provide the greatest benefit. The Plans include placing public toilets and other recreational facilities nearby. In the short term, stopping environmental degradation that threaten the site, educating visitors and building awareness of the impacts of inappropriate actions/behaviour, has been a priority. This will assist with a wide range of impacts that are occurring, including the parking and leaving of waste.
While Council, State Forests and other key stakeholders are doing what we can in managing the Gleniffer reserves, it is also the responsibility of locals and visitors alike to look after these areas. This can be done by using the designated car parking, walking on existing tracks and trails, taking your rubbish with you and generally respecting these beautiful spaces to unsure they remain pristine for the long term.
As most of the visitation is coming about from word of mouth and social media, if you are sending someone out there, please make sure you make them aware of what facilities are or are not available and how to responsibly use the area. This means if it is overcrowded, to go somewhere else, to prepare for the lack of facilities and act in ways that protect this wonderful environment.