This consultation has now closed.

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the draft Strategic Action Plan: Protection of floodplain marshes in Barmah National Park and Barmah Forest Ramsar site [2019-2023].

The draft plan was open for public consultation between 5 April and 30 May 2019, and community members were encouraged to review the draft plan and provide their feedback.

Survey results and submissions received over the eight-week period will help to inform development of the final action plan, prior to its release later this year.

Overview

Located in northern Victoria, the Barmah National Park and Barmah Forest Ramsar site (referred to here as Barmah Forest) are jointly managed by Parks Victoria and Traditional Owners, the Yorta Yorta Nation.

The ecological health of this area is essential to Traditional Owners’ cultural and spiritual connections to the land and supports valuable recreation and tourism activity, contributing to the local economy.

Barmah Forest supports nearly 300 native species of birds, fishes, reptiles, frogs and other animals and more than 500 native plant species, including endangered or vulnerable species.

Classified as a wetland of international importance in 1982, the Barmah Forest Ramsar Site is significant for waterbirds and provides habitat for many wetland-dependent wildlife species.

Changes to the natural flooding patterns, invasive plants and introduced grazing animals – particularly feral horses – have had adverse impacts at Barmah Forest and action is necessary to protect the Barmah Forest’s fragile ecosystem.

Photo Gallery

These images illustrate the impact of changes to the natural flooding patterns, invasive plants and introduced grazing animals at Barmah Forest.

Draft Strategic Action Plan

The Strategic Action Plan: Protection of floodplain marshes in Barmah National Park and Barmah Forest Ramsar site (2019—2023) outlines a four-year program to address major threats to the Barmah wetlands, including control and removal of feral horses and other invasive animals, and proposed changes to the flooding regimes.

The main objective is to restore the health of the floodplain marshes at Barmah Forest Ramsar Site and Barmah National Park, increasing the extent and cover of Moira grass and associated wetland vegetation.

The draft plan has been developed following extensive consultation with Traditional Owners, community members, environmental and horse interest groups, and other stakeholders, as well as input from specialists in veterinary science, natural resource management and animal welfare.

Download the draft Strategic Action Plan: Protection of floodplain marshes in Barmah National Park and Barmah Forest Ramsar site [2019-2023] below.
Draft Strategic Action Plan - Barmah Forest
PDF (7.41 MB)

PDF version of the draft plan

Draft Strategic Action Plan - Barmah Forest
MS Word (19.17 MB)

MS Word version of the draft plan.

Complete the survey

Part One: About you

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2. Are you completing this survey on behalf of an organisation or community group? Required
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3. How often do you visit the Barmah Forest Ramsar Site and/or Barmah National Park? Required
4. What are your main interests in this consultation? Required

A copy of your submission will be sent to this address.

Your contact information is only used to administer the public consultation process and will be separated from your submission. To view the privacy statement, click here


Part Two: Conservation strategies

The main objective of the draft strategic action plan is to restore the health of the floodplain marshes of Barmah Forest, increasing the extent and cover of Moira grass and associated wetland vegetation.

6. Have you reviewed the draft strategic action plan? Required

Please indicate your level of support. (1 = Do not support to 5 = Strongly support)

8. Section 8 outlines four conservation management strategies for the Barmah Forest. Please indicate your level of support for strategies and actions to address priority threats in the following areas:
Strongly do not support
Do not support
Neutral
Support
Strongly support
Water Management (Section 8.1)
Control programs for feral horses (Section 8.2)
Control programs for feral pigs and other introduced animals (Section 8.3)
Control programs for invasive plant species (weed management) (Section 8.4)
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The removal of horses is necessary to protect the fragile Barmah floodplains and encourage regrowth of the critical Moira grass lands as a core part of the wetlands.

This plan describes the first stage of control and removal of feral horses, bringing the total number down from more than 500 to 100 over a four-year period. The longer-term aim is for total removal of feral horses from the Barmah National Park.

Trapping and rehoming of horses will be used where appropriate rehoming recipients have been identified. Where rehoming cannot be arranged horses will be culled.

Shooting of free-ranging horses by contracted professional shooters has been proposed by a number of stakeholders and welfare organisations as a more humane approach than methods that involve capture, transport and being put down as a final outcome, in terms of minimising animal suffering.

This plan proposes contracting professional shooters to use specialist equipment (e.g. noise suppressors and thermal imaging equipment) to cull free-ranging horses by ground shooting under strict operational procedures. These operations will be overseen by expert equine veterinarians and strictly managed in terms of humane animal welfare and public safety standards.

10. Please indicate your level of support for the following:
Strongly do not support
Do not support
Neutral
Support
Strongly support
Reduction of feral horse numbers
Passive trapping and rehoming of feral horses
Controlled shooting of feral horses by professional shooters under strict welfare and safety protocols
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The survey form is now closed. Thanks for your contributions.