The Beagle Editor, We learn from the Office of Environment and Health website that:
Between April 2014 and April 2016, a pilot program of horse riding was trialled in 4 Wilderness Areas: Deua, Monga, Kosciusko and Mummel Gulf National Parks. Trial results for Kosciuszko, Mummel Gulf, Deua and Monga National Parks areas have been assessed and proposed amendments to plans of management to allow horse riding in certain areas of these 4 parks are being progressed. The proposed amendments are now available for comment.
The trial indicated very low usage by horse riders and that wilderness values weren’t effected.
Based on this outcome the Berejiklian government is proposing to amend legislation to allow horse riding in Wilderness Areas in these 4 National Parks. The proposed amendments are open for submissions until this Tues 7th Aug.
My outrage at the suggestion of allowing horse riding in Wilderness areas forced my hand in writing this submission.
The purpose of wilderness areas is to provide permanent protection for plant and animal species, as well as unique ecosystems. Any human activity such as horse riding and the presence of non native species compromises the integrity of these valuable areas.
The impacts on wilderness areas from horse riding are obvious: erosion of trails and river access points after rain/floods, soil compaction, trampling of native vegetation by hoovedanimals(we have no native hooved animals) and the spread of weeds/insect pests through horse manure, horse feed, horse gear, horse riders.
*It would only take one horse/rider to leave behind a single weed seed that germinates and spreads, to destroy a wilderness. Fireweed for example - a class 1 noxious weed on the National Register – a huge problem on the south coast – no known control method.
*As horse riders often truck their horses over long distances for particular trail rides, consideration must be given to the introduction of noxious weeds and pests from other states.
*As the pilot study found that the targeted trails received little usage, one has to wonder whether this was due to deliberate avoidance so as to limit any environmental impact, OR simply disinterest by riders.
Whatever the reason for this low usage, why are the amendments still being pursued?
Why is so much time, effort and money being wasted when the demand/interest isn’t there?
Why put these areas at risk for so few?
These questions add credence to the publicised view of many, that one very influential individual is pushing for these changes so as to value add to his commercial horse riding enterprise in the area.
*A representative of a south coast horse riding group put forward his ideas, on the results of the pilot study, on ABC radio a few days ago. He believed that once the amendments were passed and advertised, more people would be made aware of these Wilderness trails and usage numbers would increase greatly.
If this were to be the case, the results of the pilot study’s environmental impacts are not indicative of usage and are therefore meaningless.
*Allowing hose riding in these areas would require ongoing environmental monitoring, assessment and restoration - additional expenditure that should be allocated to pest and bushfire management.
Wilderness areas are precious, rare and diminishing. They provide undisturbed habitat that is crucial for the survival of endangered and threatened species.
The impact of climate change and human activity on the natural environment are increasing exponentially.
It is so very wrong to put at risk what we have left, for the sake of a recreational activity of a very few and the greed of one! Name and address supplied.