On April 18, Kosciuszko National Park will turn 75. We have to be grateful to the community members who argued for the creation of this park, and the government of the day who created it. Cattle were previously allowed to graze on the Main Range, the ‘roof of Australia’, and the damage has taken many decades to heal.
Sadly, seven decades on, the park faces threats from climate change and invasive species like wild horses. This release from Reclaim Kosci outlines the ongoing threat posed by feral horses.
“At a time we should be celebrating Kosciuszko National Park’s 75th anniversary, the area remains mired in a mucky debate about hard-hooved animals”, said Richard Swain, Reclaim Kosci campaign coordinator.
“The park was created in 1944 by visionary Liberal Premier, Sir William KcKell, who was compelled to act after witnessing what he described as ‘one of Australia’s greatest tragedies’ on a 10-day inspection of the damage from unregulated cattle grazing.
“With the park’s creation on 19 April 1944, the cattle grazing was removed and over decades the eroded mountainsides restored. Today Kosciuszko National Park is an incredible natural cathedral that draws more than a million people a year who want to experience its raw beauty.
“Kosciuszko National Parks helps deliver almost a third of the Murray Darling Basin’s annual water yield, is home to ancient glacial landscapes and is rich in alpine wildflowers and native animals found nowhere else on Earth.
“This National Heritage Property is home to some of Australia’s most threatened native animals, including the critically endangered mountain pygmy-possum and southern corroboree frog, the broad-toothed mouse, listed as vulnerable, and the alpine she-oak, which only exists in a very small area within the park.
“Australia should be coming together as a nation today to celebrate this extraordinary landscape, but instead we are stuck in a debate that allows feral horse numbers to grow and feral horse damage to continue to trash the park.
“If unresolved, the impacts of feral horses could surpass the disastrous impacts of cattle grazing prior to the park’s formation,” said Mr Swain.
As ANU protected area specialist, Dr Graeme Worboys, writes today, “The 75th anniversary of the Park should have been a celebration of catchment recovery and the benefits of professional conservation management by generations of park managers.”
“Instead, high mountain wetlands, the headwaters of the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Snowy Rivers and native Australian species habitats are all being impacted by feral horses.”
Mr Swain said, “At this time to mark the formation of one of Australia’s most significant national parks, we have a clear choice.”
“Do we allow feral horse damage to spiral out of control and irreparably damage the values of Kosciuszko National Park that the park was created to protect? Or do our leaders again rise to the occasion and make the decisions that future generations expect them to make?”
Kosciuszko under threat
Kosciuszko National Park is home to many threatened native species and ecological communities likely to suffer from feral horse disturbance.
In late November 2018 the NSW Scientific Committee listed ‘Degradation and loss by Feral Horses (brumbies, wild horses), Equus caballus’ as a key threatening process under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act.
At risk are:
- 23 threatened native plant species.
- 11 native animal species.
- 5 ecological communities.