Controls on the wild horse population in Kosciuszko National Park are set to resume within six weeks after a two-year hiatus.
While the NSW Government has announced a new Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel (CAP) for Kosciuszko, the NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean says he wants a science-based focus on managing brumby numbers.
Mr Kean said he was "delighted to have the Chief Scientist Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte appointed as the Deputy Chair of the CAP to advise both the Government and NPWS on the draft management plan" for managing horses in the park.
"I very much look forward to working with the panel to reduce the damage the horses are having in this beautiful and iconic park," Mr Kean said. "I will take a science based approach on this issue. I want to make sure we get the best result for our natural environment.
"I have also asked my Department to recommence the re-homing program. This will start from next week, with the first horses to be removed within 4-6 weeks. This will be the first time in two years that horses have been removed from the Park."
He said the Committees' work will be informed by a survey of the horse population in Kosciuszko, that is underway. It is believed there are more than 6000 wild horses in the northern part of the park, according to the last 2016 survey, but brumby heritage supporters say this figure is not true, putting the population at a bit over 3500.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro was instrumental in getting heritage listing for brumbies through legislation in the NSW Parliament. Only a few weeks ago a large demonstration by the Reclaim Kosi group asked for the bill to be repealed, saying wild horses were destroying the globally-listed park.
Mr Barilaro is the member for Monaro, and has been advised by his mentor and former State MP Peter Cochran, who runs horse treks through the northern part of the park. Mr Cochran has long said official figures on wild horses are grossly exaggerated.
Mr Barilaro said: "I've long been advocating for a balance between recognising the heritage and cultural significance of the brumbies, while enabling active management to reduce their impact on the National Park's alpine environment," Mr Barilaro said.
"The appointment of the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel (CAP) means we can get on with the job.
"I'm thrilled to announce that Tim Johnson has been appointed Chair of the CAP and he will directly update the NSW Government and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) on the work of the panel and progress within the Kosciuszko National Park.
"Mr Johnson is the man for the job - a nominated representative of the Snowy Horse Riders Association and he was integral in forming the National Heritage Listing over the Australian Alps.
"Wild brumbies have been roaming the Australian Alps for almost 200 years, and are part of the cultural fabric and folklore of the high country.
"This management plan is the best way forward to manage both the brumby population and the ecological protection of the National Park."
The panel is:
Tim Johnson (Chair) Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte (Deputy Chair) Edward Rowley, Leisa Caldwell, Rhonda Casey, Cameron Ellison, Colleen O'Brien, Leon Meyer
Recently, a 12,300 signature petition was delivered to NSW Parliament that demanded a repeal of the controversial Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act, to "implement effective horse control measures and to repair waterways impacted by feral horses".
When the report was delivered, scientist Professor David Watson, who resigned from the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee after the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act was passed, said: "Since the day it was introduced into parliament this legislation has been opposed by the Australian Academy of Sciences, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and more than 100 eminent scientists as part of the Kosciuszko Science Accord. Protecting a feral animal in a national park is madness."