This week there was a workshop South Lofty Block Orchid Recovery Project with representatives from Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management, SA Water, Forestry SA, Park Rangers, Threatened Plant Action Group and NOSSA. Many issues were discussed. One issue briefly discussed was the development of unofficial bike and walking tracks in parks and the negative impact that this would have on rare and endangered orchids.
This issue is not unique to Australia, the American Orchid Society whose mantra is Education, Conservation and Research published in their journal Orchid February 2008 a summary article titled Watch Your Step: Possible Consequences of Walking off the Trail. The authors are Maryilyn H.S. Light and Michael Mcconaill and the original paper can be found in the Lankesteriana 7:294 – 298 Click on the titles to read the articles.
The researchers studied the effects of visiting a site once a day and standing in the same spot for 10 minutes ie the effects of trampling. Their research suggested that there are possible longer term consequences as they found that the effects of compaction was still observable 18 months later. This does not seem like much but it was sufficient for them to offer some advice such as
- stay on the tracks,
- don’t walk on the side as even walking on the side of the track can result in unintended damage as the track is widened,
- when one person walks off the track others are likely to follow
- think carefully of the consequences before walking off the track
- where possible step on rocks, not soil
The research was carried out in Canada and though there are differences between the two countries, there are so many similarities it is worth our while to take note of their advice.
Possibly there is scope for research here in South Australia but in the meantime their summary sentence says it all – Until we know what is happening beneath our feet, we should really watch our step