The Great Southern Regional Trails Master Plan is one step closer to completion with the finalisation of the Trails Background Report. The report, which was circulated to all funding stakeholders in June 2019, provides the project partners with an overview of the current trail networks in the region and an understanding of the social, health, economic, and environmental benefits of trails in order to identify opportunities for potential trail development.
In January 2019, GSCORE conducted an audit of existing and planned trails in each local government area (LGA) across the Great Southern region. This audit revealed that the Great Southern region has many tracks and trails with different characteristics. However, because most of these have been developed in isolation from each other, the region lacks a coherent trail offering. There is a high concentration of trails close to coastal areas, while inland areas, despite having natural attractions including parks and reserves, are very poorly served by trail infrastructure.
In addition to a trail audit, GSCORE undertook a comprehensive review of existing planning documents at a local, regional and state level. This audit revealed that there has been little local level planning to meet the growing demand from residents for the construction of trails and trail networks. Except for the City of Albany, which is implementing its Trails Hub Strategy, none of the other local governments in the Great Southern have current local Trails Master Plans or equivalent documents.
Throughout March to May 2019, GSCORE undertook an extensive community consultation process that involved key stakeholders, including landowners, land managers, local governments, the regional development commission, tourism organisations, peak recreational bodies, user groups, and the broader community. The main data collection techniques were face-to-face workshops, meetings with stakeholder groups, and an online survey. Stakeholder groups and community members were asked to identify gaps in local and regional trail provision and to generate ideas for future trails. Most of the discussion focused on local trail ideas that would cater to the needs of residents. Opportunities to increase visitation to the Great Southern through trail-based tourism were also discussed.
The trail audit and community consultation process has shown that to achieve our vision there is an urgent need to develop a range of different trail types that will address local needs while providing unique and diverse trails experiences to increase visitation. The Master Plan will identify and prioritise areas where high quality, sustainable and accessible trails could be developed, including locations capable of hosting state, national and international events.
Read more about the findings of the Trails Background Report in this infographic.