An Update on Don’t Bag the Environment 2019 Paddy June 20, 2019 All Paddy Pallin proudly supports the Invasive Species Council through our Don’t Bag The Environment Campaign. In April this year three Paddy Pallin Team members were able to head down to the Snowy Mountains National Park to meet with members from Reclaim Kosci, a campaign from the Invasive Species Council. They were able to learn about the issues and witness first hand the devastation facing our natural wilderness due to invasive species. In September 2018, Paddy Pallin announced our support of the Invasive Species Council as a part of our long standing ‘Don’t Bag the Environment’ (also known as DTBE) initiative. We have committed to donating 20 cents for every shopping bag that our customers decline, which goes towards supporting a variety of environmental and native conservation focused projects, ran by our DTBE partners in conjunction with the Paddy Pallin Foundation. Paddy Pallin is proud to have raised over $7,500 since September 2018, which equates to our combined stores saving over a staggering 37,500 shopping bags! Paddy Pallin puts in all efforts to minimise our environmental footprint by supplying sustainable, eco-friendly paper shopping bags. We are happy to keep these bags in our stores for customers whilst supporting The Invasive Species Council with their Reclaim Kosci campaign. On 6 June 2018, the NSW Government passed their new legislation, the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act which allows for the protection of the Feral Horse to take priority over the sensitive Alpine Eco-Systems, which includes our native flora and fauna in the NSW Australian Alps. This legislation has overrode the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act which was in place to protect our unique environments by proposing a long-term control plan to be put in place for the feral horses. In May 2019, myself and two Paddy Pallin staff members spent a weekend in the Snowy Mountains National Park with Reclaim Kosci Campaign Managers- Richard and Alison along with Ian- a local Protected Area and Linking Landscape Specialist. We were lucky enough to be offered a personal tour which highlighted the damage caused by a variety of invasive species, primarily horses. On our drive down from Sydney I was very unsure of this trip, the campaign and meeting our partners at Reclaim Kosci; this was due to my personal beliefs about protecting the horses. I have spent the past 3 years living south of Sydney in a horse-loving community with my partner who had two horses and grew up reading The Man from Snowy River. The feelings I got from building a connection with these animals was something I had never experienced before which pushed me to learn more and dedicate most weekends to spending my time with them. This was the biggest barrier within me to support a campaign that I did not fully support emotionally. Although I was nervous, I had the benefit of working in Paddy Pallin for the past two years. This helped put a focus on a variety of environmental issues which led to me quickly adopt the Pallin family values of protecting and conserving everything natural and native in our Australian environments. This allowed me to open my mind to different views and pushed me to want to learn more about the Reclaim Kosci campaign to ensure that I am supporting what matters most. As we continued our drive, travelling through the Snowy Mountains Highway towards Yarrangobilly, I was surprised by the large numbers of mobs of feral horses along the side of the road, with numbers from 4 horses to 15, including new foals and yearlings (year old horses) in most herds. Our first afternoon was spent in Long Plain walking through a local gorge track. It was a beautiful walk filled with river crossings and caves. Unfortunately there were massive amounts of horse droppings littering the track, even in the most surprising of locations, which showed us the sheer amount of horses which must frequent the area. That night we set up camp and enjoyed a fire under the moonlight. On Sunday we drove back to the highway, through Long Plain to meet Alison, Richard and Ian. During the drive back, we could not help but admire our surroundings which was filled with rolling hills, streams and the plain that we had been exploring for the last 24 hours. At this point, it was unknown to any of us that we were looking at the impacts of feral animals over the last 150 years. Once we met with the Reclaim Kosci team, we followed them out to Tinpot Creek, which was a fantastic start to our tour as it was a great contrast of pristine vs damaged ecosystems. Alison and Richard directed us to the east of Long Plain Road to explain the incredibly unique Alpine Sphagnum Bog ecosystem which should be home to a variety of endangered native species including the beautiful Corroboree Frog and the Alpine Crayfish. Alison, Richard and Ian also spent the time to explain the importance that this ecosystem makes to our NSW water catchments. You may not be able to see them, but in this image there are many streams with fresh, pristine water slowly trickling through them, acting as a home and water source for many different flora and fauna. The Alpine Sphagnum is a dense but wet, sponge-like plant which holds moisture. It regulates the release of water so that when there is a large flow, from either a downpour or the melting of snow, the water doesn’t all rush down the streams at once. Instead, it holds this water and slowly releases it, allowing for more consistent flows and the ecosystem to be maintained. The moss also acts as an armour as it reduces the erosion of mineral soils and efficiently traps sands and silts from travelling to the valley floor. The peat soil underneath which is kept damp by the sphagnum, also plays a critical role in stopping erosion, allowing a steady release of clean water to local streams which then travels downstream to lower communities, eventually ending in the Murray-Darling Basin. Sphagnum Moss, which is the green and orange dense flora in the image. Although we were only able to see a small part of this environment, there was no denying the damage already caused by the feral horses. This once pristine ecosystem has the tell-tale signs of hard hooved horses trampling and compacting these highly sensitive bogs, which is scientifically known as pugging. This has resulted in the moss drying out and dying, the banks of streams eroding beyond repair which causes our native fauna such as frogs and crayfish to become endangered by exposure to predators, streams drying up and ideal breeding grounds being destroyed. Trampled banks of a once pristine stream. We followed our local tour guides to the west of Long Plain Road which would have been filled with more peat bogs many years ago, but has now turned into a desolate paddock filled with dried out Sphagnum and massive pugging trails through the heartbreakingly eroded stream. The only signs of life come from the shells of dead Crayfish. Throughout our walk around Tinpot Creek, we were exposed to the destruction caused by feral pigs and deer, which highlighted the difference between the damage caused by these species and horses in our National Parks. While we were exploring, Ian pointed out a close-by exclusion zone which should have been a small, fenced in space that is safe from all external dangers to allow the natural environment to flourish while scientifically demonstrating the destruction from feral animals, but instead we found a trampled fence on the ground, filled with horse droppings which was another indication of the destruction that these animals can and have caused in Kosciusko National Park. Trampled and eroded stream bank. Next, we all made our way to Peppercorn Trail to enjoy a lunch by the plain. Richard used this time to explain that these plains should be thriving with native insects and other species, including the Brood-Toothed Mouse due to the overgrown grasses that create shelter and habitats for a wide range of animals in the National Park. Instead of seeing this vision in front of us, we looked out at a plain with extremely short grass, dry patches of dirt, horse trails coming from all directions and another eroded stream running through the centre. After going for a stroll to a bridge across the stream, Ian handed over a photo taken from that exact location, 40 years prior, which highlights the destruction made by the feral horses. This includes the once overgrown grass that is now essentially a grazed paddock, along with the stream bank being highly eroded with pugging tracks running through various points. After this, we thanked the team at Reclaim Kosci for spending their Sunday with us and educating us on the urgent concerns that the NSW Government is continuing to support with their Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act. Richard, Alison and Ian from Reclaim Kosci opened our eyes to the impacts these Feral Horses are making in our unique Australian Alps, so much so that in one weekend of environmental education in the National Park, I am now in complete support of their campaign to control the horse numbers. There is no denying that the Horse is a magnificent animal in the right environment but they are not and were never meant to thrive in Kosciuszko National Park. This is the only environment of its kind in Australia and if we do not protect it now, it will not be there in the future. We are encouraging all readers to learn more about the feral horse concerns in Australia’s Alpine regions and sign the petition to support Reclaim Kosci. You can sign the petition here. Also if you would like to donate to the campaign you can here. #ExperienceIsEverything | #PaddyPallin Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.