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Assessment, evaluation and a comparison of planned and unplanned walk trails in coastal south-western Australia

Randall, M. and Newsome, D. (2008) Assessment, evaluation and a comparison of planned and unplanned walk trails in coastal south-western Australia. Conservation Science Western Australia, 7 (1). pp. 19-34.

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    Three walk trails, the ‘Bibbulmun Track’ in West Cape Howe National Park and The Bald Head and Peak Head trails, in Torndirrup National Park were compared and evaluated using a problem assessment method. Indicators used to categorise trail degradation in the problem-assessment-trail-census included trail depth, excessive width, root exposure and trail proliferation. Other environmental variables measured in the trail assessment were slope, soil type and trail-side vegetation. Maintenance features such as boardwalks, steps, water bars and signs were assigned a condition and effectiveness rating. The most prevalent degradation problems on the assessed trails were soil erosion, exposed roots and excessive width. Trail proliferation was problematic in sections of indistinct trail or where a view could be accessed. The Bald Head and Peak Head trails were highly degraded compared to the assessed section of the Bibbulmun Track, which has been subject to a higher level of planning and management intervention. An evaluation of past management actions in relation to present trail conditions for all three trails indicates that trail alignment following natural contours and the installation of maintenance features such as board-walks, water-bars and steps on sloped sections are crucial to sustainable trail management. The utility of a trail problem assessment method developed in mountainous areas of the US has worked well in the assessment of sandy coastal walking trails, with the monitoring of trail conditions recommended as part of a sustainable trail management program and made possible due to the data that has been generated during this trail assessment.

    Publication Type: Journal Article
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
    Publisher: Department of Environment and Conservation
    Copyright: (c) Government of Western Australia
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