The NSW government has since focused on trapping and re-homing, but the process is slow. In 2021, then-federal environment minister Sussan Ley threatened to override NSW’s management of the feral horse population when Barilaro dismissed the need for urgent action by saying Ley had been misled by green activists.
Invasive Species Council advocacy manager Jack Gough said restarting the Alps Ministerial Council could be a game changer, but called on NSW to urgently reduce herd numbers.
“We’re hopeful that the establishment of the Alps Ministerial Council will be the forum to drive action going forward in a way that we haven’t seen in recent years because previously we haven’t had governments that are all on the same page,” Gough said.
Conservation groups argue that 6000 horses must be removed from Kosciuszko National Park each year and that trapping is not a viable option given the logistics and cost.
During this year’s NSW election campaign, Labor promised to slash horse numbers in Kosciuszko to 3000 by 2027, but is yet to detail its plans.
NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said on Friday she would work with other jurisdictions to protect Kosciuszko, where biodiversity was under threat from climate change and invasive species.
Victorian Environment Minister Ingrid Stitt said the Andrews government was keen to strengthen its ties with NSW and the ACT to protect the region, while ACT Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said the council would improve cross-border conservation efforts.
“With many threatened species and communities hanging in the balance in the Alps due to the impacts of invasive species and climate change, the leadership from NSW to reconstitute the ministerial council has come at a critical time,” Vassarotti said.
The environment ministers also agreed to develop a new national set of rules aimed at cutting waste and boosting recycling, including mandatory packaging design standards and targets specifying recycled content and use of chemicals in food packaging.
“We need to dramatically reduce packaging waste and the harmful chemicals that destroy our environment. We see packaging in the guts of dead birds, floating in our oceans, destroying nature as it takes generations to degrade,” Plibersek said.
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