Leading conservation groups, including the Invasive Species Council, National Parks Association of NSW, Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Nature Conservation Council of NSW and the National Parks Association of the ACT, will boycott the NSW Government’s call for nominations for the Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel. To do otherwise would be to lend credibility to a process that over-rides the National Parks and Wildlife Act.
The call for nominations comes on the same day that the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee listed “the Degradation and loss by Feral Horses (brumbies, wild horses), Equus caballus” as a key threatening process under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act, highlighting the absurdity of the Wild Horse Heritage Act that hamstrings the ability of the National Parks and Wildlife Service to remove horses and reduce their impact.
Feral horses are transforming the ecosystems of Kosciuszko National Park and driving 23 threatened plant species and 11 threatened animal species, ten of which are critically endangered, toward extinction.
The NSW Government is required to establish the Community Advisory Panel to provide advice to the Minister for the Environment on the preparation of a wild horse heritage management plan under the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018. The highly controversial Act was passed by the NSW Parliament on 6 June 2018 following its introduction by Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, and resulted in the public resignation of a member of the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Panel.
“Having seen the circumstances surrounding the introduction of the Wild Horse Heritage Act, we do not believe that this panel will have the best interests of Kosciuszko National Park and its wildlife at heart, said National Parks Association of NSW CEO, Alix Goodwin.
“NPA will not participate in a process to develop a plan that values an introduced species over threatened native species and ecological communities in Kosciuszko National Park.
“By introducing the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act and its requirement to establish the Community Advisory Panel, Mr Barilaro has single-handedly destroyed the legitimate and painstaking consultation undertaken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service over a three-year period that resulted in the draft 2016 Wild Horse Management Plan.
“The establishment of the Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel is a waste of taxpayers money, and the resources being expended on this unnecessary process would be better directed to removing feral horses from Kosciuszko National Park,” Ms Goodwin said.
“It’s time for the NSW Government to abandon the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act and take urgent action to cull horses in the iconic Kosciuszko National Park,” said Keith Muir, director at the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.