Brumbies a plant threat

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New South Wales has identified alpine brumbies as a key threat to plants, months after passing laws to protect the feral horses.

The conflict emerged on Friday when the NSW environment department’s threatened species scientific committee announced that the habitat degradation and loss caused by brumbies was eligible as a “key threatening process”.

“Feral horses are impacting a wide range of ecological communities across the Australian Alpine region of NSW, a declared Unesco biosphere reserve,” the committee said in a statement.

A law passed in June recognises and aims to protect the heritage value of sustainable wild horse populations in the Kosciuszko national park.

“The horses are destroying the fragile alpine environment and need to be managed, not given special protection over every other animal and plant in Kosciuszko national park,” the opposition environment spokeswoman, Penny Sharpe, said.

The environment minister, Gabrielle Upton, said the government was preparing a wild horse heritage plan of management and calling for nominations for advisory panels.

She said that, where the horse population needed to be managed, the priority would be rehoming them.

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