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Conservation groups and 4WD owners combine tracks in new alliance

A historic alliance has seen the state’s peak environment group join forces with four wheel drive associations at the Perth 4WD and Adventure Show this weekend.

Left to Right: Bruce Brinkley, Alastair Gordon, Graham Weber, Alison Goundrey, Piers Verstegen, John Collins

In what may seem an unlikely alliance, WA’s leading conservationists and four wheel drive associations have come together as part of a new initiative that will see four wheel drive owners work with community conservation groups to better manage the environment.

An initiative of the Conservation Council of WA, the WA 4WD Association, and Track Care, the Tending the Tracks Alliance is helping to manage the environmental impacts of four wheel drive use while engaging owners with community led conservation initiatives.

Conservation Council of WA Director Piers Verstegen said, “We are pleased to find a lot of common ground between conservation interests and the four wheel drive community, and this initiative establishes a strong foundation to build on.

“Four wheel drive use can cause significant environmental impacts, but it is also a way for people to get out into nature and build a connection with our environment. A healthy environment needs people. By working with four wheel drive owners, we can help them manage their impacts, while bringing new capacity to important on-the-ground community conservation efforts.”

The Tending the Tracks Alliance was conceived following a presentation by Track Care WA Treasurer Graham Weber, the only person representing four wheel drive owners at the State NRM and Coastal Conference 2017 held at Curtin University.

“I thought I was going to be lynched before I started, but after hearing what Track Care does, I was swamped by people wanting to know more. Dr Nic Dunlop from the Conservation Council of WA came to chat and here we are, one year down the track with Tending the Tracks,” said Mr Weber.

Conservation Council of WA’s Citizen Science Coordinator Dr Nic Dunlop said, “It doesn’t matter if you are a naturalist or someone who enjoys being out four wheel driving, we all use tracks as it’s how we travel through our country. It’s how we relate and discover. But the process of going there has environmental consequences. That’s why the Alliance is working at different levels, from the strategic policy level to practical on-the-ground projects to find ways to manage the impacts of four wheel drive use.”

Chairman of the WA 4WD Association Bruce Brinkley said, “The Tending the Tracks Alliance has the potential for ensuring the future preservation of the WA coastal environment. The Alliance has evolved through thought and discussion into a developed concept which is already delivering on its objective. 

“It has been a privilege for the 4WD Association to have been involved from the beginning, and I believe the practices and cooperation developed now can endure, therefore ensuring our continued access to coastal areas for us and for our grandchildren so they will see and experience the country as we do today."

Endorsement for the Alliance and the prospect to work together supporting each other’s goals comes too from the Create Ranger Parks campaign.

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