Wild Horses grazing on Alpine Way, Kosciuszko National Park

The National Parks Association of NSW expressed dismay at yesterday’s announcement that the NSW Government will introduce legislation that will allow feral horses to remain in Kosciuszko National Park.

“It’s now official, the NSW government values introduced species over native wildlife and will go to extraordinary lengths to protect them”, NPA Chief Executive Officer, Alix Goodwin said.

In 2016, the NSW government released a draft plan of management for feral horses in Kosciuszko NP.1 NPA opposed the proposal to allow a small number of feral horses to remain in the National Park then, and it continues to oppose this given the real and ongoing damage being caused by this introduced species.

“This decision flies in the face of the advice of NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee”, Ms Goodwin said.

“The NSW Government appears to have gazumped the Committee which, just three weeks ago, released its preliminary determination to support the listing of habitat degradation and loss by feral horses as a key threatening process under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.2

The preliminary determination speaks in no uncertain terms to the detrimental impact of feral horses on alpine and sub-alpine vegetation and in turn threatened native species like the Northern Corroboree Frog, Southern Corroboree Frog, Alpine Water Skink, Alpine Spiny Crayfish, Alpine She-oak Skink, Southern Corroboree Frog and Alpine Tree Frog.

Yesterday’s announcement was made by the Deputy Premier rather than the Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton who is responsible for the protection of Kosciuszko NP. It heralded that there would be no lethal culling of feral horses, with rehoming being the last resort.

According to NPWS figures, over 6,000 feral horses occupy 48% of the approximately 700,000 hectare Kosciuszko NP. It is understood around 150 horses were rehomed last year.

Ms Goodwin said, “The decision is an international embarrassment and another nail in the coffin for NSW national parks, with Murray Valley NP at risk of a return to logging.”

Kosciuszko NP has two international environmental listings; it is listed as a biosphere under UNESCSO’s Man and the Biosphere Program, and Blue Lake and environs on the Main Range is listed as wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.3

The decision to legislate for the protection of feral horses coincides with publication of research which found that one-third of land in protected areas across the globe is threatened with destruction due to human activities, including Australia. The research was published in the esteemed journal, Science on Thursday last week.

NPA expressed disappointment that horse-riding will be allowed in four National Parks including Kosciuszko following a two-year trial.

Ends

Media Contact: Dianne Thompson 0421 022 477

References 

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