Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Horseriders seek access to degrade Kosciuszko

As the closing date for public submissions on the draft plan for Kosciuszko National Park nears, environment groups are concerned that the push for more horseriding in the park has ignored many important facts.

"Horse riders make up just 5 per cent of the park’s users but they are one of the main causes of damage to the park", said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness

"Between October 2001 to April 2002 there were 1,140 commercial and private horse parties using the Northern Plains of the park. These levels are high enough to cause unacceptable damage to the natural environment. Horse camps, such as those around Mackeys and Cooinbil huts have replaced native grasslands with exotic weeds, such as oat grass and clover", said Mr Muir.

"Pinch River horse camp, in the south of the Park, is a total mess of weeds and camping filth. The camp assists illegal access into the adjoining Pilot wilderness. Wilderness is protected under the NSW Wilderness Act because it represents the state’s last remaining most pristine environments. It should not be subjected to the environmental degradation arising from horse riding," Mr Muir said.

"The damages associated with horse riding are well known and include soil erosion, weed invasion through manure and horse feed, damage to stream banks, pollution of waterways and damage associated with temporary yards, including to snow gums. This has been recognised, most recently, in the Independent Scientific Committee report into the park’s values, released in May 2004." said Mr Andrew Cox, executive officer of National Parks Association of NSW.

"The National Parks and Wildlife Service has a legal responsibility to ensure any recreation in a national park occurs within strict environmental limits. Management of recreational horseriding proposed in the draft plan fails to do this," said Mr Cox.

"We are also concerned over the recent tourist promotional film including a shot of horseriding in Kosciuszko National Park."

"Tourism NSW is unwise to support the promotion of damaging horseriding at Geehi Valley on the western side of the park. It would be better and more effective for tourism promotion to focus on walking, the most popular form of recreation in the park, Mr Cox said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)

Andrew Cox (02) 9299 0000 (wk) or 0438 588 040 (mob)