The Bago State Forest Nature-Based Tourism Enhancement program after years of careful planning, interrupted by bushfire, floods and a global pandemic, was launched on March 2 according to a Forestry Corporation of NSW media release.
The masterplan was shared at a ceremony at Pilot Hill Arboretum in Bago state forest, hosted by Forestry Corporation of NSW.
More than 70 guests supported the program, which details planned upgrade works at five visitor sites in Bago state forest, located within the NSW Snowy Valleys, close to the townships of Tumbarumba and Tumut.
Developed under the NSW government’s Regional Growth and Environment Tourism Fund, the masterplan aims to deliver growth in the local and regional tourism economy through improved forest-based visitor experiences incorporating art, health and wellness, and environmental projects.
Bago State Forest offers hundreds of kilometres of forest trails to explore on foot, mountain bike, horse or vehicle. New visitor facilities, walking trails, signage and interpretation, timber sculptural elements and environmental restoration within Bago state forest are key elements.
“The Bago forest has an incredibly diverse landscape and is a fantastic part of the Snowy Valleys,” Forestry Corporation partnerships leader (southern NSW) Brendan Grimson said.
“We are incredibly excited to be launching this unique project, built on the principles of ‘caring for community’ and ‘caring for country’.
“Traditional Owner culture and heritage, art and sculpture, visitor health and wellness, showcasing local hardwood and softwood timber, are all equally important elements of proposed works,” Mr Grimson said.
“Bago state forest also supports large areas of sensitive Montane Peatlands. This project aims to enhance the visitor experience in those areas while also delivering restoration of degraded peatlands.”
A strong multi-disciplinary team brought together by design underpins the masterplan. Partners the Mulloon Institute, NSW Health, Sculpture by the Sea, The Connective Co., Planet Ark, and Tumut Brungle Local Aboriginal Land Council, all on board.
Jenni Wines, bushfire/disaster recovery clinician, said Murrumbidgee Local Health District was excited to be a partner in the Bago project.
“We are now starting to view nature as an important preventative healthcare and self-care model, with enormous community reach, Ms Wines said.
“We are bringing clients to Pilot Hill Arboretum, using the facilities and walking trail as a therapeutic session.”
David Handley AM, founding CEO and artistic director with Sculpture by the Sea, said the Bago State Forest project afforded the opportunity to extend the successful Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail.
“Bago State Forest is a fantastic part of the Snowy Valleys which offers a very different experience for visitors to the sculpture trail,” Mr Handley said.
“On three Bago project sites, our ‘sculpture forest’ is perfectly positioned in the middle of the existing sculpture trail, giving the visitor three unique experiences all within a very short drive.”
Bill McAllister, a landscape planner from the Mulloon Institute, said: “We are incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to be working with Forestry Corporation of NSW on the restoration of Montane Peatlands.
“One really important element of the peatlands is that they store tonnes and tonnes of carbon dioxide. This makes their restoration a positive step to tackling climate change.”
Dr Joe McGirr MP, Independent Member for Wagga Wagga, noted that the announcement was important for the Bago State Forest and for the local community as a whole.
“The investment made here is going to greatly bolster tourism opportunities, leading to more jobs and economic benefits for the community,” Dr McGirr said.
Duty MLC for Wagga Wagga Wes Fang said the $300 million regional growth environment and tourism fund had backed projects that activate iconic tourist attractions, grew destinations, and drove economic growth by increasing overnight visitation and business activity in regional NSW.
The program has funded over 60 projects across regional NSW.
The Bago State Forest Snowy Valleys Tourism Upgrade Program is made possible through $1,910,988 in funding from the NSW Government Regional Growth Environment & Tourism fund.
- Using extracts from Forestry Corporation of NSW media release.