The land that comprises the St Ives Showground, Wildflower Garden and Community Nursery are important areas for conservation as well as recreation. A draft plan of management (PoM) has been released and is open for submissions until 6 August.
A PoM provides a framework and guides the management of public land owned or managed by a council. It identifies issues affecting public land and sets out how that land is to be used, managed, maintained and enhanced in the future.
The draft PoM also covers areas south of Mona Vale Road; the Green Waste Tip site and HART road safety centre. The management of these two areas is different because they are bound by user agreements and developments that are subject to the Minster of Planning’s consent. Nevertheless, because of their bushland location, they are considered important for development of an integrated management plan for the overall precinct.
St Ives Showground and Precinct Lands contains several ecologically important areas including:
- threatened vegetation communities including Duffys Forest Endangered Ecological Community and Coastal Upland Swamp;
- riparian habitats protecting creek systems; and
- habitats for a number of threatened plants and animal species (listed under NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act).
The area is an important wildlife corridor that can facilitate movement and gene flow between Garigal and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Parks. However busy Mona Vale Road is a barrier. Measures to facilitate crossings should be developed and improvements should be made to the ecological function of the roadside edges that are weed and litter infested.
Changes that are canvassed that may be worthy of comment include:
- Traffic signals at the entrance to the Showground to improve safety.
- Improved public transport.
- Improved internal road circulation, walking tracks and signage.
- Closure of trails that fragment bushland and impact wildlife and Aboriginal heritage sites.
- Additional bushwalking tracks and fire trails to key points of interest be built in accordance with council’s Recreation in Natural Areas Strategy.
- Development of a multi-purpose cultural and environmental education centre. The centre would provide a range of education programs, activities and exhibitions focused on environmental and cultural topics.
- Possibility of commercial camping subject to market analysis of viability. Currently camping is only allowed during special events.
- Development of a commercially operated outdoor adventure recreation area including issuing a licence or lease for a high ropes course or similar activity.
- Rehabilitation and repurposing of the former mini-wheels site based on suitability of the site yet to be determined. This may include activities such as sustainable nature-based community education and camping or other recreation activity.
- Upgrade of the Wildflower Garden facilities and car parking. There is a plan to designate the site as a Wildlife Protection area (under the NSW Companion Animals Act 1998).
The community nursery site has been neglected for many years. The draft PoM proposes some upgrades and additions of community facilities such as a retail outlet, bushfoods garden or green waste collection. It is suggested that other uses be investigated such as camping facilities, adventure-based recreation such as obstacle courses and potential for sporting facilities. It is difficult to see how these can be compatible in this area of swampy land on the edge of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
Green Waste Tip Site
This area is a conundrum as this stage. The draft PoM states:
The main objective for the site is to continue the current site rehabilitation and water recycling/harvesting processes. Additional improvements and proposed uses to be considered are:
- A feasibility study could be undertaken to determine the potential for a dedicated mountain bike facility.
- Explore the potential for environmental initiatives with associated infrastructure. For example, solar farming, community green waste and compost, alternate location for community nursery, sustainable light industry for community benefit.
Should recreation use or additional environmental infrastructure not be viable, then full rehabilitation and inclusion into Garigal National Park could be pursued.