O'Farrell Government trashes protected wilderness regions in NSW

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Shadow Minister for the Environment Luke Foley has slammed the O’Farrell Government for throwing open some of NSW’s most pristine and unique wilderness areas to horse riding.

The O’Farrell Government have now revealed five new wilderness areas that were previously protected will be opened to horse riding in a two year trial announced this week.

 

The Wilderness Areas now open to horse riding are Kosciuszko, Deua, Monga and Mummel Gulf National Parks.

“Horse-riding is totally inappropriate in protected wilderness areas. These areas were set aside under ground breaking wilderness legislation established 27 years ago by the former Environment Minister Bob Carr to preserve the biodiversity and beauty of these areas from human interference,” Mr Foley said.

“The Act explicitly directs that wilderness areas should only be open to “self-reliant” recreation. Riding a horse is hardly self-reliant.

“The heart of our alpine wilderness is not the place to be sanctioning the use of large introduced species disturbing and trampling our unique and pristine environment.

“Hard hoofed animals undermine the fragile soils of the Australian bush.

“Horses are larger than most native animals and the damage they cause to the growth allow unnatural amounts of sun onto the bush floor - helping establish weeds carried in on horses’ flanks and in their droppings.

“This is nothing more than another attack from the O’Farrell Liberal Government on the environment.

“This government has an appalling record on environmental protection – and seem hell bent on tearing down the environmental protections of successive NSW Governments.

Mr Foley said most of the National Park estate is managed with dual aims of facilitating recreation and protecting nature, however in wilderness areas nature takes primacy. The wilderness areas are a small but important subsection of the park’s estate.

“I don’t believe it is too much to expect that a small portion of these Parks are protected as core refuges that are allowed to continue undisturbed as an ark for biodiversity and evolution.

“Labor is very proud of creating Australia's first Wilderness Act and of the more than 1 million hectares of wilderness created by the last Labor Government.

“This is just one more betrayal of the natural heritage of NSW for which we are custodians.”