Why is it so important that you stick to the trails when you are out hiking?
Put simply, our hiking trails are a small blip in a huge ecosystem and one foot into that ecosystem, and you can cause more harm than you may realise. Let's start with what our main concern is with wayward travelling hiking boots. It starts with something called 'dieback'.
Dieback is caused by a plant pathogen which kills certain plans such as jarrah, grass trees and banksias that are susceptible, by attacking their roots. The problems that this can cause include extinctions of animal and plant species, reduced variety of native vegetation, disruptions of woodland vegetation structure, and a loss of biodiversity. Our trails are becoming brown and dead, and this is not just due to our hot and dry summers.
How can we stop this? Well, the answer lies in prevention. We have the power to prevent any further spread, and here is how!
The disease is spread through infected soil and mud, most commonly by footwear and vehicles, as well as through water and root to root contact between plants. Dieback stations can be found along the Bibbulmun track, and they are starting to pop up on other trails as well, which we are super excited to see. It is our responsibility to ensure we use them, and ensure we regularly clean our footwear, and stay within the trail spaces provided.
If we hike through a dieback effected area, and then get in our cars and drive to another trail, and head out on a hike, we could be spreading dieback without even knowing it. Keep this in mind next time you head out!