POLICY No.12 6/11/99

| Introduction | Definitions | Policy |


The National Parks Association of NSW strongly disagrees with the policy of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of NSW providing for horse-riding in a number of national parks, as both the environmental and social impacts of this activity are unacceptable in such areas. They are also unacceptable in other areas where nature conservation is a primary objective. Horses (as defined below) are objectionable in these areas for the following reasons:

  1. They cause surface damage due to the penetrating impact of their hooves, which deepen tracks, create quagmires, and increase water run-off and erosion.
  2. Weed seeds are contained within their droppings. These germinate on track sides and elsewhere, and are further dispersed by the increased run-off during heavy rains.
  3. The experience of encountering horses in otherwise natural areas is contrary to that which should be expected in national parks and kindred areas, their presence being contrary to the purpose and spirit of national parks outlined in the IUCN definition of national parks, which is adopted by all Australian governments.
  4. Horse excreta upsets the nutrient balance of the Australian bushland which has been noted as being phosphate deficient. The extra nitrogen introduced in the excreta will also upset the nitrogen balance of the bushland. Alteration of both of these cycles will lead to altered floral assemblages.

The NPA recognises, however, that horse-riding outside protected areas (see A1), properly controlled and limited to areas where the inevitable environmental and social impacts are acceptable, is a legitimate pursuit. It is an Australian tradition, almost a culture, and the chief recreation of a small segment of the population. The growth of towns and cities is accompanied by steady retreat of the rural-urban fringe from their centres. Land such as unoccupied Crown land, where equestrians might freely ride, is now a rarity adjacent to national parks, etc. near the cities, and busy roads further frustrate the urban rider. A clear example of this situation is where a riding school operates in the Ingleside area of Sydney, adjacent to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, giving rise to a protracted conflict because of the provision by the NPWS of riding tracks in the Park.

For these reasons, the NPA believes that the Government should attempt to make reasonable provision for horse-riding where there can be no serious conflict with nature conservation and nature-oriented recreation. Such areas and routes could well include both natural and cleared areas.


Horseriding: For the purposes of this policy, "horse-riding" includes riding of horses, donkeys, mules, or any other hard-hoofed animals. This does not imply that the NPA therefore condones the use of animals which have a lesser impact upon the ground, such as camels. NPA opposes the presence of any exotic fauna in national parks, etc.

Park road: Road owned, controlled and maintained by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as part of a national park or other NPWS Estate reserve, and open to general public vehicular use.

Public road: Road excluded from a national park or other NPWS reserve, owned, controlled and maintained by an authority other than NPWS, and open to general public vehicular use.



1. Protected Areas.

1.1 Horse-riding should not be provided for within national parks, nature reserves and Aboriginal areas under the NPWS Act; nor in flora reserves under the Forestry Act; nor within catchment areas for domestic water conservation; nor in wilderness areas declared under either the NP&W Act or the Wilderness Act; nor in Crown lands which are reserved for the preservation of flora and fauna.

1.2 The areas described in 1.1 include park roads, as defined above.

Park roads, being part of the NPWS Estate, are controlled and managed by the NPWS. This agency therefore has the power to prohibit horseriding on park roads, but not on public roads.

2. Permissible Areas

Horse-riding may be provided for in some state forests; some Crown lands (where not proposed for conversion to nature conservation areas); and some Crown and urban council reserves. Private and leasehold lands may be used by agreement with landholders and lessees, and limited by any conditions set by same or under the leases, or by any conservation agreements.


1. Responsibilities of Riders

When horse-riding in permitted areas, riders should be required to

2. Responsibilities of Clubs

Horse-riding clubs should be encouraged to

3. Permits

Riders should be required to purchase horse-riding permits to finance maintenance of riding tracks in natural areas, especially where these have been provided in national parks (against NPA policy). Infringement of permit conditions should lead to instant cancellation of the permit.



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