Park becomes a paddock
As water vapour rises, it cools in the atmosphere. Tiny droplets of water condense, forming a cloud. Under the influence of converging weather patterns, clouds gather over the majestic Namadgi Ranges.
In time, a precious drop of rain falls from a cloud. It falls within a landscape we call the Cotter River catchment, set aside for protection. In 1909, Surveyor-General Scrivener recognised this catchment’s vast potential to supply a city of the future with crystal clear drinking water.
Our rain drop falls high within this mountainous landscape and gathers with others in a precious subalpine wetland. With endangered Corroboree Frogs, Alpine Skinks and native Broad-tooth Rats as companions, it begins an epic journey, cascading down mountain creeks which in turn meet to create the Cotter River.
Along its journey, the river’s path has been touched by the influence of the human hand. Introduced weeds have been controlled, feral animals reduced, impediments removed. The hand of a ranger, a conservation custodian, is clearly evident.
These rangers walk in the footsteps of those who came before them, tasked with the responsibility of enhancing the water catchment. A community asset. A natural resource. An asset to be bequeathed to future generations.
In time our rain drop makes its way into our taps. This little drop of rain forms the basis of our morning rituals. From a cloud to a coffee cup. I am sure many people take for granted how good our tap water is here in Canberra.
But to our west a new threat looms.
An introduced, heavy-hoofed feral species has been afforded legislative protection by an Act of the NSW Parliament. This Act elevates and prioritises an alien species above the inherent natural values of Kosciuszko National Park. The philosophy of protecting native wildlife and functioning ecosystems has been reversed.
It’s no longer a park. It’s a paddock.
I’m yet to meet a feral horse that recognises the ACT border.
Untamed introduced NSW horses pose a direct threat to the life of our rain drop. The scientific evidence is crystal clear. Stream bank erosion, sedimentation, pollution of our drinking water are the consequences of feral horses fouling our pristine mountain landscape.
Our Corroboree Frogs, Alpine Skinks and native Broad-tooth Rats are losing their habitat.
Leading scientists recently gathered in the bush capital. The calibre of their presentations, the rigour of their science was overwhelming. The evidence of destruction is undeniable.
The mountains are a calling. We must care.
Photo caption: Feral horse damage in Kosciuszko National Park. We need to prevent this happening in our water catchments. Photo: Savekosci.org
Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service.
Article also appeared on 20 November 2018 in The Chronicle