Protecting Barmah National Park
Friday 21 February, 2020
Parks Victoria has today announced the release of the Strategic Action Plan: Protection of floodplain marshes in Barmah National Park and Barmah Forest Ramsar site [2020-2023], a four-year program to protect the Barmah Forest for current and future generations.
The plan outlines management strategies to counteract major threats to Barmah National Park’s unique and threatened wetlands including the management of feral horses and other invasive plants and animals.
Without urgent action the Moira grass plains, a unique feature of the Barmah wetlands, could be extinct as soon as 2026. The Moira grass contributes to food supply for many floodplain and wetland dependent species such as insects, fishes, amphibians and huge numbers of breeding birds.
The habitats within the national park support eight nationally-listed threatened species and significant numbers of other native species. The forest supports important breeding colonies of egrets and cormorants and provides drought refuge for frogs and native fish.
The impacts of feral horses on wetland areas in the park are considered large-scale, and long-lasting. Horses degrade the wetlands through grazing, trampling vegetation, dispersing weed seeds, disturbing the soil and creating openings for weed invasion and creating an imbalance in nutrient levels.
The plan has been developed following extensive consultation with government agencies such as; Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, as well as Traditional Owners, community members, environmental groups and other stakeholders.
In response to strong community feedback regarding improving opportunities for passive trapping and rehoming of horses, Parks Victoria will be facilitating more re-homing opportunities where appropriate recipients are identified. You can read about the rehoming process, and how to submit an expression of interest at www.parks.vic.gov.au/get-into-nature/conservation-and-science/conserving-our-parks/feral-animals
To access the full version of the plan, and view the engagement summary report visit: www.engage.vic.gov.au/barmah-strategic-action-plan
Quotes attributable to Daniel McLaughlin, Regional Director, Parks Victoria:
“The Barmah Forest supports waterbirds, frogs, native fish and turtles during critical stages of their breeding and life cycles. These species are critically impacted by feral horses and other threats to the site.
“Feral horses in Barmah National Park like to eat Moira grass as it’s sweeter than other vegetation. When new shoots of the grass appear, the horses move in and decimate the delicate new growth.
“The forest, and the animals that reside there have evolved over millions of years in isolation from feral horses and other introduced species. Without protection from feral animals, the ecosystem has little chance of recovery.
“The plan complements conservation work already being carried out by Parks Victoria to address threats in the park, including control of feral pigs, deer, sheep, goats and invasive plants.”