EXPENDITURE of $800,000 widening and extending concrete walkways through Noosa National Park would have been better spent replacing the Pandanus trees it has lost to the flat-headed leaf hopper according to an environmentalist embittered by what he describes as the nibbling effect being suffered as a consequence of a series of subtle changes to the park.
Dennis Massoud is a fierce guardian of the park's intended purpose to protect an oasis of natural environment in a sea of competing outside pressures.
He volunteered his labour to help workers inject Noosa National Park's surviving Pandanus with the white oil insecticide that saved them and remains frustrated there has never been a rehabilitation program to restore the population of the iconic coastal species.
Mr Massoud is furious at the latest work which he says simply changes more of the environment to concrete in a program of work for which there was no community consultation or even display of intended works.
He has accused the State environment department of giving sections of the park the look of a concrete skate bowl while ignoring a 100 foot high Cyprus felled by Cyclone Debbie's whirlwind .
"This is the jewel of Noosa and one of the most iconic national parks in the state and it's being turned into an amusement park," Mr Massoud said.
A Queensland National Parks spokesperson said widening of the track would improve the safe passing of surfers carrying boards.
The spokesperson said there was no concern the work would encourage greater jogger numbers and increase conflict with nature lovers because the redesign was meant to make it easier for all user groups including those with disabilities.
"Noosa National Park is one of the most visited parks in Queensland and a big contributor to Sunshine Coast tourism," the spokesperson said in response to questions put to Environment Minister Steven Miles.
"The coastal walking track gets more than one million visits a year. The park is prominent in social media posts, and we expect visitation to grow.
"The coastal track has been redesigned to provide easier travel for all user groups, including visitors with disabilities.
"QPWS needs to manage impacts such as erosion, and that means some changes are necessary. It should be noted that more remote walking tracks of the park are unchanged.
"QPWS is upgrading the park's day-use area, tracks and facilities to ensure people can continue to enjoy the park without damaging it. The work includes standardising the track surface between the day-use area and Dolphin Point which formerly had sections of concrete, bitumen and pavers. The improved surface will also make that section of track more accessible to people with disabilities. The work is nearly completed.
"The total project cost including landscaping, new safety fencing and rails, visitor interpretation and signage, and revegetation of degraded areas is $800,000 (50% Federal Tourism, 50% Queensland Government funding).
"We are now 10 months into the upgrade project, and QPWS rangers have been hearing resounding approval of the works by the local community and visitors to the area. We do acknowledge that over the years, not everyone agrees with the design of upgrades, but our aim is to protect the park while providing for enjoyment of the area by the largest cross-section of the population."
Noosa mayor Tony Wellington said there had been no consultation with the council because "it's their property and their land".
Mr Wellington said the council budget included funds to begin the upgrade of the board walk from Hastings Street to Little Cove but beyond the park's entrance it had no control.
He said the park was the most visited in Queensland and of inestimable economic value to Noosa.
"Ultimately it's a resource that is highly attractive and needs to be managed in a non-deleterous way," Mr Wellington said.
"If they need to widen the path to ensure the visitor experience is exceptional while minimising the impact on the environment that's probably a good thing." source - sunshine coast daily