Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Interim measures for feral horse control a step in right direction

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness welcomes this morning’s announcement by NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean, detailing the removal of all feral horses from the three “most critically sensitive” areas of Kosciuszko National Park[1].

Wilson Harris, Natural Areas Campaigner, Colong Foundation for Wilderness said: “these measures are a fantastic step towards reducing feral horse numbers. This begins the process of getting the population of horses in Kosciuszko down to the level required for the survival of the parks threatened species and ecosystems.  

“The implementation of a program to protect the ecological integrity of these areas and ensure horses do not return to them, is a great initiative. Assessing and recording the positive impacts stemming from the removal of horses from alpine landscapes will further add to the ever-growing body of science detailing the damage they inflict on Australian alpine ecosystems.”

“The Colong Foundation hopes the three areas identified include the Karst conservation areas and Main Range, both of which have significant wilderness values. Wilderness is a bastion against an array of threats faced by the environment, including habitat destruction and climate change. To stem the extinction crisis, wilderness’ capacity for regeneration following shocks must be protected, with pest control being paramount. “

“However, the impact of feral horses in the alpine and post-fire landscape cannot be overstated. While the removal of ~4000 horses is a great measure, this plan must be followed on with stronger and more widespread action to effectively reduce the threat posed by these pests. Given there is 20,000 horses in Kosciuszko, foaling at a rate of roughly 25% per annum, the numbers will be back to pre-interim measure levels within a year. “

“The NSW Government should also take this opportunity to expand and implement similar emergency measures for feral horse control in other sensitive national parks and wilderness areas, especially those impacted by bushfire. The Guy Fawkes River National Park wilderness is one such area that needs immediate action to reduce feral horse numbers. This park alone contains 5% of all Australian flora[2], and is an incredibly rich area of biodiversity, but is being severely degraded by feral horses.”

Contact: Wilson Harris 0479100461

 

[2] Guy Fawkes River National Park, Nature Reserve and State Conservation Area Plan of Management (2009), Office of Environment and Heritage, p. 20 [http://bit.ly/39MHZxA]