Ana səhifə

Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 N

Yüklə 244 Kb.
ölçüsü244 Kb.
  1   2   3   4   5

Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 No. 182

Action Statement

Central Gippsland Plains Grassland

Forest Red Gum Grassy Woodland

Northern Plains Grassland

South Gippsland Plains Grassland

Western (Basalt) Plains Grassland
This Action Statement addresses five lowland grassland or grassy woodland communities, each of which is listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. The preparation of Action Statements is a requirement of the Act.

It includes a general discussion of the communities, their broad description and distribution, conservation status, and issues related to their management. It proposes major conservation objectives and approaches that are applicable to all five communities.

This Action Statement also includes, as an appendix, sections that focus specifically on each listed community, providing more detail on their description, distribution, ecology and specific threats, and outlines management actions taken to date.

This Action Statement has not attempted to identify specific actions for every site. The geographic range of the five communities, the variety of land tenures and numbers of stakeholders would make this an enormous task.

The intended management actions are divided into two groups – Statewide Actions and Local Actions.

The Statewide Actions are primarily of a policy or strategic nature, and it will largely be the responsibility of the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and other state and local government agencies and authorities to carry out these actions.

The Local Actions also consist of general actions, in some cases accompanied by more specific actions that relate to each of the five communities. Although the communities occur in different parts of Victoria, the local management requirements are common to all. These actions are largely the responsibility of land managers, local planning authorities and regional staff of DSE and DPI.

The Local Actions include the development of brief ‘Site Management Statements’ for all known sites, with the cooperation of the landholder or land manager. This process will identify the details of site-by-site management, responsibilities for management and resourcing needs.


Lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands – a special case

Temperate grasslands are one of the world’s major ecosystems, occurring widely on all continents except Antarctica. They occur in mild climates, are generally fertile and easy to exploit and as such have been replaced faster than most other ecosystems. The native grassland communities of the North American prairies, South American pampas, European chalk grasslands, Asian steppes and south-eastern Australian plains are threatened worldwide (IFFA 1992).

There are compelling reasons why our approach to conserving lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands should be different from those for other ecological communities.

  • Lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands are more severely depleted than any other ecological communities in Victoria;

  • Despite a few recent acquisitions, lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands are extremely poorly reserved;

  • Few remnants of lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands occur on public land and where they do, the parcels of land tend to be small and/or linear (e.g. road and rail reserves), they are used for purposes other than conservation and in some cases are managed by committees or agencies with little conservation management expertise;

  • Remnants of lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands on private land are mostly larger than those on public land and generally non-linear, but are also likely to be more degraded;

  • Remnants of lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands are often modified by past management and many are in a degraded condition;

  • Because of their small size, remnants of lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands may not provide habitat for the full range of species which formerly occurred in them. The small size and isolation of remnants can also lead to small, isolated populations of plants and animals with limited genetic diversity, in turn leading to reduced ability to reproduce and adapt to changing conditions, and in the longer term, vulnerability to extinction;

  • Over the past 15-20 years, in spite of increasing knowledge and concern about lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands, the rate of loss and degradation has continued if not accelerated, largely as a result of urban development, changed agricultural practices on private land, increasing mechanisation, including larger agricultural and earth-moving machinery, infrastructure maintenance and development on public land, and ongoing fragmentation and degradation, and

  • Grasslands are often perceived as uninteresting and unattractive, as ‘vacant’ land, because of their lack of trees. Their conservation importance, and legally protected status as native vegetation are often ignored.

For these reasons, it would be reasonable to adopt an approach to conservation based on protecting and enhancing all remnants, regardless of tenure, condition or current use. However, given the cost of the active management required to maintain or enhance the biodiversity values and condition of remnants, it is necessary to focus on significant1 remnants (i.e. those that have high species diversity, are in good condition, or that support rare sub-communities or populations of rare or threatened species. However, consistent with Victoria’s Biodiversity Strategy the Native Vegetation Management Framework and Regional Native Vegetation Plans, the target for conserving lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands in Victoria will be to achieve a net gain in area and condition.

The degree to which the five listed communities have been fragmented means that the biodiversity values of each community cannot be captured and protected in a single reserve. To address this problem, concepts such as Conservation Management Networks (CMNs) will be proposed. A Conservation Management Network is a network of community remnants comprising priority sites on all land tenures, managed wholly or in part for conservation purposes, and encompassing formal conservation reserves, unreserved public land subject to conservation management agreement, and private land, preferably protected under some form of voluntary management agreement and/or covenant. Without the latter, private land components cannot realistically be included in any sense as a meaningful conservation reserve.

Description and distribution

The grasslands and grassy woodlands addressed in this Action Statement once occurred over most of the lowland plains of Victoria in low-medium rainfall areas, on varying types of soil fertility. Small, fragmented remnants of these communities occur across the plains, on paddocks of privately owned farmland that have remained unploughed, unfertilised and only lightly grazed; and on mostly ungrazed public land with a history of burning for fuel reduction e.g. ‘town commons’, cemeteries, roadsides and rail reserves (Lunt 1991).

With the exception of the Forest Red Gum Grassy Woodland community, trees are absent or sparse or occur as isolated copses of woodland. This is due to a combination of soil type (e.g. cracking clays), rainfall and past management history. Plants flower in spring and early summer, early in the north, later in the south. Variation in seasonal climatic conditions, most notably rainfall and temperature, also influences flowering. Flora species are mostly perennials with few annuals.

Some existing grassland remnants, particularly on the Gippsland Plains and the eastern part of the Northern Plains, may have lost their original woodland overstorey as a result of changed management practices following European settlement. These grasslands are sometimes referred to as ‘secondary’ or ‘derived’ grasslands. This does not reduce their value for conservation. Little is known of their management history in pre-European times, and the degree to which tree cover fluctuated in response to management events. It is possible that what we now call “grasslands” consisted of a mosaic of open grassland, sparse tree cover and denser woodland, that varied with time. All grasslands and grassy woodlands are highly threatened and contain many threatened species, some of which occur on only a single site or handful of sites. All remnants of these communities must be protected and managed to conserve the values that exist within them today, regardless of past history.

More information on the description and distribution of these communities is provided in Table 1 on Page 19.

Conservation status

Current status

Each community has been listed under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

Natural Temperate Grassland ecological communities in south-eastern Australia are being considered for listing under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. These grassland communities will be considered in a staged approach, on the basis of their conservation need and the availability of information. The ‘Western (Basalt) Plains Natural Temperate Grasslands’ community is presently under consideration for listing and public comments were sought until 30 June 2003.

The listed grasslands and grassy woodlands occupy plains habitats on reasonably fertile soils that have been cleared over large parts of their range for agricultural production. Once a third of Victoria was covered by these grasslands and grassy woodlands (DCE 1992), but today, grasslands of the Western Basalt Plains have declined to about 0.15% of their original distribution. Those of the Northern Plains have declined to about 0.5%, and those of the Central Gippsland Plains Grasslands and South Gippsland Plains Grassland to much less than 1%. Forest Red Gum Grassy Woodland has declined to between 2% and 4%. Remnants of these communities are distributed so widely across the State and are subject to such a variety of land uses that they are also subject to a very wide range of threatening processes, including ongoing clearing, habitat destruction and fragmentation, weed invasion and inappropriate management.

The Scientific Advisory Committee requires certain criteria to be satisfied for a community to be eligible for listing:

2.1 the community is in a demonstrable state of decline which is likely to result in extinction;

2.2 the community is significantly prone to future threats which are likely to result in extinction

2.2.1 the community is very rare in terms of the total area it covers or it has a very restricted distribution or it has been recorded from only a few localities.

In its final recommendations for listing, the Scientific Advisory Committee determined that the nominations for communities satisfied at least one of these criteria.

Western (Basalt) Plains Grassland Community criteria 2.1 and 2.2 (SAC 1991)

Northern Plains Grassland Community criteria 2.1 and 2.2 (SAC 1992).

Central Gippsland Plains Grassland Community criteria 2.2 and 2.2.1 (SAC 1993a)

Forest Red Gum Grassy Woodland Community criteria 2.2 and 2.2.1.(SAC 1993b

South Gippsland Plains Grassland criteria 2.2 and 2.2.1 (SAC 1994).


All these communities require regular biomass reduction, through fire, suitable managed grazing, or some other form of natural perturbation to maintain the structure and species diversity of a grassland or grassy woodland. In the absence of suitable disturbance, the dominant perennial tussock grasses tend to out-compete and suppress the less competitive smaller forbs. In the grassland communities south of the Divide, 5-10 years without disturbance results in loss of many herb species and senescence and death of Kangaroo Grass tussocks (Lunt & Morgan 1999). Open spaces are then colonised, by native species in an intact grassy ecosystem, but more often by opportunistic weed species. North of the Divide, lower rainfalls generally mean reduced fertility, and biomass reduction may not be so frequently required.

In pre-European times, disturbance resulted from grazing by macropods, digging and scratching by smaller macropods and bandicoots, digging for food plants by aboriginal people, and fires lit by aborigines or caused by lightning strikes. These disturbances created open spaces among the tussocks, providing habitat for fauna and small flowering herbs. Soil types and patterns of fire and grazing disturbance would have created mosaics within the grassy ecosystem, ranging from sparse woodlands through to herblands, open grassland, closed tussock grassland and ephemeral wetlands and drainage lines. Today, biomass reduction is maintained by burning, slashing or grazing by introduced stock. However timing, intensity and type of biomass reduction is not evidence-based and is generally inadequate, resulting in a general decline in species richness. Disturbances such as overgrazing, cultivation, irrigation or development will quickly result in the replacement of much of the indigenous flora with exotic species from which recovery is either very slow or non-existent.

The general approach of grassy ecosystem managers is a conservative one. If a good quality remnant of a community has survived under a certain management regime, e.g. frequent fuel reduction burning, or light grazing by stock, then it is best to continue that regime with only minor modifications, although changes may be made after suitable trials and monitoring. ‘Locking up’ a native grassy ecosystem remnant and removing appropriate disturbance will quickly result in the loss of conservation values.

Past Management History

Prior to 1970

  • Moormurng woodland, near Bairnsdale, declared a Forest Reserve in 1958

  • Several authors publish reports of the vegetation of the Western Basalt Plains, noting the impacts of European land use changes and decline in native flora and fauna (Patton 1930; Sutton 1916; Willis 1964)


  • Stuwe & Parsons (1977) publish a study on the floristics and management of Western Plains grasslands. In the same year A.H. Arnold researches the effects of grazing natural ecosystems.

  • La Trobe University staff and students carry out further detailed studies on the native grasslands of the western plains, focusing on areas on the western edge of Melbourne, and emphasising the rarity of these grasslands. Detailed submission to Western Region Commission.

  • Incremental losses continue due to land use change (e.g. railway realignments, development of public land -RMIT develops part of Laverton North grassland).

  • Moormurng’s status changed to Flora and Fauna Reserve in 1977.


  • Laverton North Grassland Reserve (40ha) is created as a temporary reserve for "preservation of native grasslands" and Derrimut Grasslands Reserve (150 ha) is permanently reserved. These are the only reserves in Victoria specifically created and managed for conservation of native grassland.

  • Conley & Dennis (1984) publish The Western Plains - A Natural and Social History which includes documented changes to and decline of native flora and fauna of the Western Plains grasslands.

  • Stuwe (1986) publishes an assessment of the conservation status of native grasslands on the Western Plains, stating that about 0.16% remains of their original distribution.

  • CFL undertakes a survey of the relic vegetation of all Victorian railway reserves in 1985. In 1989 CFL and VLine sign a licence agreement for implementation of a Railway Reserve Vegetation Management Plan, requiring CFL to pay an annual fee to carry out management works on significant rail reserves. This agreement is not fully implemented and is dissolved in the early 1990s.

  • From the mid 1980s through to the 1990s railways managers replaced regular burning as a fuel control method with the use of herbicides and ploughed firebreaks, thus destroying perhaps 50% of the high quality grassland remnants on rail reserves.


  • The then Department of Conservation and Environment publishes a report on remnant native grasslands and grassy woodlands of the Melbourne area (DCE (1990) with management recommendations.

  • Western (Basalt) Plains Grassland community is listed as a threatened community under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act in 1991, followed by Northern Plains Grassland Community in 1992, Central Gippsland Plains Grassland and Forest Red Gum Grassy Woodland in 1993 and South Gippsland Plains Grassland in 1994. The FFG Action Statement for Western Basalt) Plains Grassland was released in 1995 (Muir 1995).

  • Draft Conservation Program for Native Grasslands and Grassy Woodlands in Victoria published by Department of Conservation and Environment in 1992.

  • !n 1992 the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service published the national Recovery Plan for Western Basalt Plains Grassland (Muir 1992). The following year AN&WPS provided two years of half-time funding for five Grassland Planning and Extension positions, to cover the Northern Plains, Western Plains, Melbourne and Gippsland regions.

  • Sheep and cattle grazing became less profitable, prompting a move towards more intensive agricultural practices e.g. pasture improvement, new crops, raised-bed cropping, laser grading, pig farming. Native grasslands that had persisted under low level grazing regimes were cleared and destroyed.

  • Public Authority Management Agreements were entered into for several cemeteries containing grassland and grassy woodland remnants.

  • Moormurng declared a Flora and Fauna Reserve in 1993 and grazing ceased.

  • Between 1995 and 1998 the then Australian Nature Conservation Agency (ANCA) provided $160,000 p.a. for three years to fund grassy ecosystem conservation, management and research. Funds were allocated on the recommendations of the multi-disciplinary Grassy Ecosystem Reference Group (Craigie & Ross 1995) and Research Advisory Group (Wellington 1996). ANCA also funded a project investigating the Economic Benefits of Native Grasslands, for which farmers on the Basalt Plain and Riverine Plain were interviewed (Crosthwaite (1997).

  • Management guidelines for the relatively unknown Northern Plains Grasslands are developed (Diez & Foreman 1996).

  • Surveys and identification of roadsides with high conservation values were undertaken for most local government areas. Many roadsides were signposted, but many signs later stolen or destroyed. Roadside management plans were developed but not all implemented.

  • Victoria’s Biodiversity Strategy was released (Crown [State of Victoria] 1997), identifying the highly endangered status of lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands and recommending no further loss of native vegetation.

  • Numerous extension materials (brochures, posters, management kits) on grasslands and their management were produced by the then Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands, Land for Wildlife, Trust for Nature, WWF and VNPA.

Late 1990s - early 2000s

  • A conference at Victoria University was held on the management of native grasslands and proceedings published (Craigie & Hocking 1999)

  • A conference in Clare, SA was held on balancing conservation and production on native grasslands and pastures, and proceedings published (Barlow & Thorburn 2000).

  • Several private land sites were purchased for conservation (e.g. Terrick Terrick, Craigieburn), public land reserves were gazetted as grassland conservation reserves, conservation covenants and management agreements were entered into on private land and Public Authority Management Agreements begun with some local governments.

  • From 1999-2001, the Federal Government established a devolved grants program to fund grassy ecosystem conservation and management projects. The WWF/NHT Grassy Ecosystem Grants Program disbursed $500,000 p.a over three years, a significant proportion going to Victoria.

  • NHT funding was sought and received for many projects involving conservation and management of grasslands and grassy woodlands

  • Nature conservation on private land became a focus of research, extension and policy at state and national level (this had been evolving since at least the late 1970s).

  • Under the Ecologically Sustainable Agriculture Initiative of the then Department of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE), now Departments of Primary Industries and of Sustainability and Environment, a project was established to specifically investigate the management requirements of native grasslands on the Basalt Plain and Riverine Plain (Dorrough et al. 2002, Dorrough & Carter in press, ESAI booklet (State of Victoria 2002)). This ongoing project has also surveyed producers and extension officers in these areas to determine appropriate extension approaches.

  • An environmental management system has been trialed on cropping properties in the Barwon basin, some of which have native grasslands (Western Ecological Consultants 2002). Related projects included biodiversity assessments on the properties (Newton & Hastings 2003) and mapping the potential for raised bed cropping against biodiversity assets across south-west Victoria (MacEwan 2003). Further EMS work on properties with native grasslands is being led by the North-Central Catchment Management Authority. Best Management Practice Guidelines were tested with producers across south-west Victoria, many of whom manage native grasslands (McFarlane & Trewick 2002); an extension program has recently finished.

  • Native grasslands in the context of farm businesses are a focus for research in a project under the national Land, Water and Wool program (Moll et al. 2003); this extends earlier research investigating opportunities to improve conservation of native grasslands by taking a whole-farm perspective (Crosthwaite & Malcolm 2000).

  • Extension materials about biodiversity, including native grasslands, was produced (much of it incorporated in the Living Systems Resource Kit (Straker & Platt 2002)). The national Sustainable Grazing Systems project has incorporated the most recent research and management recommendations into extension materials received by all meat producers in Victoria, namely the special issue of Prograzier and Tips and Tools on biodiversity.

  • BushTender, a market-like policy tool, is being trialed in several regions of Victoria, including parts of the Gippsland Plain bioregion containing the Forest Red Gum Grassy Woodland vegetation community. The approach pays landholders to provide habitat services that improve the quality and quantity of native vegetation on their land beyond current obligations. Landholders establish their own price for the services they are prepared to offer and successful bids are those that offer the best biodiversity value for money. Landholders may choose from a range of shorter and longer-term agreements including permanent protection options.

  • The Victorian government undertook a program of strategic identification, assessment and voluntary purchasing of key sites for conservation, often with financial assistance from the Commonwealth Government as part of the National Reserve System Program (Fitzsimons & Ashe 2003).

Despite the many positive actions that are listed above, threatening processes have continued to operate and the conservation status of the listed grasslands and grassy woodland has not improved. The rate of loss has proceeded, particularly in areas subject to subdivision around Melbourne, where it has greatly increased since the 1970s. Economic pressures within the agricultural sector have led to changes in agricultural practices that have accelerated losses on private land.
  1   2   3   4   5

Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2016
rəhbərliyinə müraciət