Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Kosciuszko National Park, brumbies, law and ecological justice.

Abstract

The brumby (or feral horse) is an icon of colonial settler Australian culture in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. 2018 saw the introduction of the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill 2018 (NSW), known as the Brumbies Bill, which cast heritage protections over brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park (KNP). The Brumbies Bill prioritised feral horses over the protection of Alpine Australia, an area which contains a unique ecosystem only present on 0.3% of the Australian landmass. The Bill was highly controversial and directly undermined decades of research into feral horse damage by overturning the pre-existing KNP Horse Management Plan. In this paper we explain the change of policy, an undertaking especially important in the context of debates about the need for more biodiversity protection. We apply a critical legal geography lens, focused on the need to understand how law/s shape places, draw on ideas from ecological justice and introduce the principle of non-regression to this controversial policy reversal. We are especially interested in exposing the processes behind such environmental policy reversals and in unpacking competing perspectives regarding policy formation. We suggest abrupt policy changes are not prudent for a precautionary approach to environmental protection.