As water vapour rises, it cools in the atmosphere. Tiny droplets of water condense. A cloud is formed. Under the influence of converging weather patterns, clouds gathering over the majestic Brindabella Ranges.
In time a precious drop of rain falls from a cloud. Just as it has done for millenniums. The weather cycle continues.
Touching down within a landscape we call the Cotter River, our rain drop has fallen within a water catchment set aside for protection. In 1909 Surveyor-General Scrivener recognised this catchments vast potential. As a visionary, Scrivener selected the limestone plains as a site for nation’s capital. He sensed these mountains’ intrinsic qualities. Their innate ability to supply a city of the future with crystal clear drinking water. He was correct.
Falling high within this mountainous landscape our rain drop gathers. A mighty river is born. From within a subalpine wetland an epic journey begins. With endangered Corroboree Frogs, Alpine Skinks and native Broad-tooth mice as companions, our rain drop moves on, cascading down a meandering river. Along its journey its path has been touched by the influence of the human hand. Introduced weeds have been controlled, feral animals reduced, impediments removed. The role of Ranger, a conservation custodian is clearly evident. These Rangers walk in the footsteps of their forebears, tasked with the responsibility of enhancing a water catchment.
A community asset. A natural resource. An asset bequeath to future generations.
In time our rain drop makes its way into our taps. We drink it. We consume it. This little drop of rain forms the basis of our morning rituals. From a cloud to a coffee cup. Yet we simply take for granted the humble life of our rain drop.
To our west a new threat looms. Introduced heavy hoofed feral species have been afforded legislative protection. An act of the NSW Parliament elevates, prioritizes an alien species above the inherent natural values of Kosciuszko National Park. The philosophy of protecting native wildlife, functioning ecosystems has been reversed. It’s no longer a park. It’s a paddock.
I’m yet to meet a feral horse which recognises the ACT border.
Untamed introduced NSW horses pose a direct threat to the life of our rain drop. The scientific evidence is crystal clear. Stream bank erosion, sedimentation, pollution of our drinking water are the consequences of feral horses fouling our pristine mountain landscape.
Recently leading scientists gathered in the bush capital. The calibre of their presentations, the rigour of their science was overwhelming. The evidence of destruction is undeniable.
The mountains are a calling. We must care.
Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service.
Ginini Wetlands, Namadgi National Park – recovering well from the 2003 fires & as yet undamaged by horses.