Why does Kosciuszko National Park need saving?
- An escalation of environmental damage by wild horses over the past 5 years
- The passing in June 2018 of legislation by the NSW Parliament that gives wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park more protection than native animals.
Water source for Bill Jones Hut, KNP, March 2014 - first signs of wild horse damage
The same water source in May 2018 - a dramatic change for the worse in just 4 years
These animals and plants face a bleak future
These animals and plants of Kosciuszko National Park are listed by the NSW and/or Commonwealth governments as under threat from wild horses:
- Alpine she-oak skink
- Alpine tree frog
- Anenome buttercup
- Archer's Carex
- Broad-toothed mouse
- Corroboree frog
- Guthega skink
- Kelton's leek orchid
- Kiandra leek orchid
- Leafy anchor plant
- Max Mueller's burr-daisy
- Monaro golden daisy, a striking yellow daisy with flowers on 30 cm stalks. It is found in Kosciuszko National Park. Outside the Park it can be found in fenced areas such as Old Adaminaby Cemetery and the Old Cooma Common Grassland Reserve.
- Raleigh sedge
- Shining cudweed, a silver-leafed daisy, found in the higher parts of Kosciuszko National Park and in the Victorian Alps. It lives in areas frequented by horses - wet areas near streams, on the edges of bogs, and sod tussock grassland.
- Sphagnum moss
The history of the debate
In 2016 the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service published a Draft Wild Horse Management Plan. Extensive consultation had revealed polarised views - some wanted wild horses to remain in Kosciuszko, and others wanted immediate reductions towards a target of zero horses. The draft plan proposed a compromise: a reduction to 3000 horses in 10 years, and to 600 in 20 years.
Pro-horse groups successfully lobbied the NSW Government for the draft plan to be shelved. In June 2018, the NSW Parliament passed the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill, which requires the NPWS to protect wild horses in the Park and sets up a Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel with a guaranteed majority, under the present NSW government, of pro-horse representatives. Meanwhile a NSW government scientific committee has proposed damage by wild horses be listed as a 'key threatening process' to biodiversity in NSW. This proposal is now under consideration by the government; given the government's passing of the Wild Horse Heritage Bill, it is possible this evidence-based proposal may be rejected or shelved.
The Wild Horse Heritage Bill will be an issue in the March 2019 NSW elections. The 'Save Kosci' walk from Sydney to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko aims to raise awareness among NSW voters, so that they can consider the issue in their voting choices. Every day until then, the environmental damage by the wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park will increase, and the journey to recovery becomes harder.