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The first thing to be understood about the photographs is that in undisturbed wet areas around the Cobberas you don't see any mud. Nor is exposed water often seen. Where there is still, or slowly flowing, water, it is usually covered by, and flowing through vegetation. Invariably the mud or exposed water seen in my photographs indicate recent horse or pig damage.

Disbursed water flows and Channelisation.
In undisturbed areas water flows seep, or move broadly and slowly, through wetland vegetation along less distinct and meandering drainage lines. In areas where there is horse grazing, trampling and pugging water flows in strait drain like channels created by horse grazing trampling and pugging. I sometimes refer to this latter process as channelisation.   The Friends of the Cobberas have conducted a controlled 10 year photographic study of this channelisation process which clearly shows how these drains/channels are formed and the difference between vegetation and water flows in undisturbed and in horse damaged areas.  In larger wet areas like the Playgrounds, small rivulets of running water form. A network of these join to create small streams.  Undisturbed the banks of these water flows are covered by complex constructions of delicate mosses, lichens, herbs, sphagnum, small flowers, orchids, etc. These streams and rivulets meander through this vegetation which builds up on the on the promontories and bends of these water flows.  When open water is seen in undisturbed areas it is crystal clear. Where water ponds, the bottom of these ponds is often covered with delicate vegetation, which can be clearly seen through the water, as if looking into a mirror at it.

Mud, Exposed Water Means Recent Horse or Pig Damage
Mud is a sign of recent horse or pig disturbance. For example, all the mud and exposed water seen in the photos at the Marsh Leek Orchid Site is created by horse trampling and pugging.  After a while, new vegetation colonizes the muddy disturbance. This is often invasive vegetation, different from that which existed before. What does not readily re-establish are the delicate plant communities and complex stream edge structures with their arrangements of mosses lichens, sphagnum, etc., that existed before the disturbance..

Sphagnum Bogs (Often called Moss Beds, Alpine Bogs or simply Bogs)
In wet areas (depressions and around hillside soaks and springs), sphagnum and other wet area vegetation builds up in raised layers or mounds that may rise to a metre or more above the surrounding ground level with underlying peat beds formed from decayed bog vegetation. Some of these underlying peat beds have been dated to 3-4,000 years old. These bogs are full of water (like large wet sponges). Other vegetation grows in them. Once demolished they may not reform. Or if they do, it may take decades for them to form sizable layers/mounds.

The Photos
The pre-disturbance photographs were photos I took of particularly beautiful and/or interesting locations. I was subsequently able to match these up with photos taken of disturbance is in those same locations. It saddens me that so many beautiful pristine places have been damaged.

The photos are described below:


Playgrounds -
Native Dog Flat

1K Bog

Playgrounds SE Bog

Marsh Leek Orchid Site - Playgrounds

Pigs Mostly - Various Locations

Cowombat Flat

Rocky Plains Native Cat Flat


Click on a link to view the photos for the label.

  Photos by: Bill Kosky, Mischa Rowan & Colin Rowan

We are happy that photos of feral horse damage be used elsewhere in the prevention of environmental degradation.  Credits would be expected.