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Barmah wild horse social and heritage values survey

Friday 21 March, 2014

Parks Victoria says a recent survey to explore the range of views held by the community on the values of wild horses has received 604 responses. Acting District Manager Daniel McLaughlin said while the responses are still being analysed, the survey will help Parks Victoria and Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation understand the recent history of wild horses in Barmah National Park.

“The online survey was the first component of research into the range of personal stories and connections to the Barmah wild horses and we are very pleased with the number of responses submitted,” Mr McLaughlin said.

“Many people have contributed their perspectives on the social and heritage values of the horses and the results are currently being analysed. Initial results show that over 90% of the respondents feel strongly about the wild horses, whether in a positive or negative way.”

Mr McLaughlin said initial analysis of responses to the survey show:

  • The horses evoked an emotional response in many respondents.
  • While some people felt the horses reflect the region’s history and their presence is a valid expression of environmental change and adaption, others believed the horses degrade the natural values of the river red gum floodplain ecosystem.
  • Some key values attributed to the horses included Australian spirit, freedom, tourism, history and heritage and regional symbolism.
  • Some key activities associated with the horses were history, education, animal welfare, horse riding, mustering and wartime.

The survey results along with additional research of the wild horses at Barmah will help shape development of interpretative material and contribute to the horse management strategy for Barmah National Park.

In fulfilling Parks Victoria’s responsibilities under the National Parks Act 1975 to control exotic fauna in national parks, Parks Victoria and the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation are developing a Barmah Horse Management Strategy to remove wild horses from Barmah National Park. In developing the horse management strategy, a specific focus will be to look at options to interpret and maintain the identity of the Barmah horses in the broader landscape.