The following is an excerpt from the executive summary of the National Cultural Heritage Values Assessment & Conflicting Values Report to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. This report informed NSWNPWS in preparing its draft Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park and provides interesting insights into wild horse history and management in Australia.
In this study, the wild horse population is considered as an attribute of the place – Kosciuszko National Park – or parts of that place. The National Heritage List criteria and assessment guidelines were used to frame the assessment of cultural heritage significance.
The heritage assessment found that the wild horse population is an attribute associated with the cultural heritage significance of Kosciuszko National Park in relation to five criteria: events and processes, (d) representativeness, (e) aesthetic characteristics, (g) social value and (h) significant people. Section 6 provides this analysis, noting the extent and the range of attributes for each value. For example, in relation to the history of pastoral land use and transhumance, the North-East Kosciuszko landscape is already recognised as having national heritage values as part of the ‘Australian Alpine National Parks’ listing. Part of this history is the establishment of wild horse populations. A diverse range of tangible and intangible attributes remain today to help us understand this story: wild horses are only one of these attributes, and like the other attributes, are now disconnected from the activities of pastoralism and transhumance.
The report concludes with a chapter designed to explore the relationship of cultural and natural heritage values broadly, and to consider how conflicting values may be considered in the context of protected area management. Conflicts between values are not uncommon in the cultural heritage domain, often based on differences in perceptions and values arising from individual and collective cultural frameworks and experiences. Resolving such differences in the context of place management may be difficult and time-consuming, requiring efforts by all parties to find solutions that offer ‘mutual gains’. Section 7 does not offer a solution, nor could it. The solution needs to be found by the parties involved. Section 7 does, however, explore some of the considerations and ways of framing the conflicts. It also draws attention to a legislative framework which is place-based, and to the processes of moving from significance to policy that form part of best practice approaches in both the cultural and natural heritage spheres.
It concludes that the cultural heritage values identified should be addressed, and that this implies retaining a wild horse population in an appropriate location or locations within the KNP as one of the attributes of the identified cultural heritage values. But equally, the impact of an expanding wild horse population on both natural and cultural heritage values across a widening landscape must be addressed to ensure that these values are not put at risk.
To view the entire report click HERE (note the report is 6MB)