A new report from Frontier Economics warns the failure to reduce feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park is costing the NSW economy up to $50 million a year.
Commissioned by the Invasive Species Council the report also says inaction to rein in growing feral horse numbers in NSW could impose further environmental, economic and social costs across the border in Victoria and the ACT.
“The Frontier Economics report shows that exponential growth in Kosciuszko’s feral horse population is causing huge economic pain,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said.
“Every day the NSW Government delays real action to reduce feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park the state economy and the people of NSW pay the price.”
The report analyses the potential economic benefits a reduction in feral horse numbers would have on the NSW economy, finding:
- Benefits of up to $20 million a year from improved recreation and use of Kosciuszko National Park such as camping, hiking and mountain biking.
- Improvements to water quality and riparian environments worth up to $28 million a year.
- A saving of up to $2 million a year from a reduction in horse-related vehicle crashes.
“The costs of large horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park are immense,” Mr Cox said.
The economic analysis suggests that, using conservative assumptions and readily available data, acting to substantially reduce horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park would deliver benefits that exceed costs even for the most expensive horse control scenario by at least three times.
“The huge and growing numbers of feral horses in Kosciuszko are scaring away tourists and putting motorists and campers at risk,” Mr Cox said.
“This report shows that the NSW Government is penalising the local economy as long as it fails to protect Kosciuszko from feral horses.
“The failure to control growing feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park will clearly hurt local businesses at a time when they are already struggling with the impacts of last summer’s bushfires, the global COVID pandemic and a downturn in overseas tourism.
“This new analysis should put to bed phony arguments about the benefits of feral horses and be the catalyst the NSW Government needs to urgently get on with the job of removing feral horses with a new horse plan that actually works.
“Kosciuszko National Park was established to protect precious alpine and mountain environments and preserve the headwaters of catchments of the iconic Snowy, Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers.
“As the Frontier Economics report shows, the loss of these values under the hooves of thousands of horses comes at a cost.”
The report was undertaken by Frontier Economics pro bono for the Invasive Species Council.