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Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 N

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Key sites

Moormurng Flora and Fauna Reserve

Providence Ponds Flora and Fauna Reserve

Stratford Highway Park

The Knob Recreation Reserve

Briagolong Forest Red Gum Reserve,

Blond Bay Wildlife Reserve

Gippsland Plains Conservation Management Network

The Billabong Flora and Fauna Reserve

Swallow Lagoon Nature Conservation Reserve

Billabong, Bush Family, and Frair Trust for Nature Reserves

Yeerung Bushland Reserve

Reservation status:

650-700ha occurs in reserves, but not all are managed primarily for nature conservation.

Links to other Action Statements:

Dwarf Kerrawang (Rulingia prostrata)


  • Lack of burning in areas with a history of occasional burning

  • Weed invasion by Bridal Creeper and exotic pasture species such as Sweet Vernal Grass, Yorkshire Fog and Phalaris

  • Invasion by Sweet Pittosporum, caused by changed fire regimes

  • Stock overgrazing

  • Forest Red Gum insect-mediated dieback

  • Firebreak ploughing on roadsides

  • Road works

  • Firewood collection

  • Increasing overgrowth of shrub and tree vegetation

  • Fragmentation

  • Increased dairy production, potato production, tree clearing for more efficient pivot and linear irrigation systems

  • Inconsistent application of exemptions on clearing controls for landholders

Previous Management Action


  • Purchase of Swallow Lagoon for reservation as a Nature Conservation Reserve. A number of other properties have been purchased by the government through Trust for Nature.

Strategic planning

  • Ongoing review of MSSs for all municipalities

Protection and management

  • Trust for Nature has entered into conservation covenants for 12 sites

  • WWF/NHT grassy ecosystem grants awarded in 2000 for Grassland Conservers (Trust for Nature)

  • WWF/NHT grassy ecosystem grants awarded in 2001 for Grassland Conservers Part 2 – Trust for Nature

  • Ecological burns have been undertaken at the Moormurng Flora and Fauna Reserve and on significant roadsides

  • Bridal Creeper control has been undertaken at Moormurng and on Bumberrah Rd

  • The Perry River Protected Area Network (later the Gippsland Plains CMN)was established in 2001 and a Ranger appointed

  • The CMN Ranger has carried out trials on thinning and understorey planting

  • Revegetation work has been undertaken on the Gippsland Plains, focussing primarily on trees and shrubs, as part of the through the Red Gum Plains Recovery Project and Gippsland Plains Recovery Project, as a means to reduce fragmentation

  • The BushTender project entered into management agreements to secure several areas of Plains Grassy Woodland - 30 ha were secured through 6 year management agreements; 2 ha through 6 year management plus 10 year protection agreements and 25 ha through 6 year management agreement plus conservation covenant.

  • Briagolong Forest Red Gum Reserve is zoned as a Special Protection Zone and is managed for conservation.

Community education and extension

  • Programs of springtime walks, talks and tours carried out through the last decade, by Trust for Nature and NRE staff

  • On the plains, a quarterly newsletter of the Gippsland Plains Conservation Management Network has been produced.

Inventory and survey

  • EVC mapping of Gippsland vegetation communities has been undertaken

  • Forest Red Gum dieback has been mapped on the eastern part of the Gippsland plains

Biological research and monitoring

  • Research on floristic structure of understorey conducted by Ian Lunt in mid 1990s

  • 24 remnants on private and public land surveyed by NRE staff as contribution to the Red Gum Plains Recovery Project, an NHT funded program

Northern Plains Grassland

Description and Distribution

Northern Plains Grassland Community occurs throughout the areas of the Northern Plain (Shepparton Formation) which are not subject to seasonal inundation or associated with prior stream channels. It infrequently occurs in the southern regions of the Northern Plain because particle size distribution results in better drained soils in the south which tend to support grassy woodlands. The community occurs on quaternary alluvial sediments. Soils are calcareous clay loams, or clays on wetter sites.

Today this vegetation extends to the west from the Patho/Mitiamo Plains over the Loddon River at Serpentine on the Powlett Plains. It is also found to the north, west of Kerang in the Bael Bael area associated with the Avoca River. To the east this community extends to Echuca, into NSW at Moama and east of the Campaspe River as far as Kyabram and Corop - although this region has not been extensively searched for remnants (McDougall and Kirkpatrick 1994). Grasslands of the higher rainfall areas (up to 550 mm) occur on the far eastern edge of the Riverine Plain around Wangaratta, Chiltern and areas immediately adjacent to the Warby Ranges. The soils of this region are also generally of a lighter texture and the average particle size distribution decreases further north and west (Macumber 1991).

In the lower rainfall parts of the Riverina plains, the present Northern Plains Grassland Community consists of a plains herbland of no particular dominance, or an open to closed tussock grassland dominated by Wallaby-grasses (Austrodanthonia setacea and A. caespitosa), Spear-grasses (Austrostipa scabra and A. gibbosa) and Spider Grass (Enteropogon acicularis). This dominance tends to be the result of past grazing and disturbance events. Prior to intensive livestock grazing and cultivation, there would probably have been a greater abundance of annual and perennial herbs, shrubs and C4 grasses (Moore 1953, Williams 1955, 1969). It occasionally occurs as an open (grassy) shrubland dominated by a variety of species. A range of perennial herbs occupy the inter-tussock spaces. Total indigenous vascular flora richness is greater than 10 species per 100 m2, although the most species-rich areas generally exceed 20 and occasionally 30 species/100 m2.

Widespread perennial herbs include Variable Sida (Sida corrugata), Grassland Wood-sorrel (Oxalis perennans), Wingless Blue-bush (Maireana enchylaeniodes), Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa), Scaly Buttons (Leptorhynchos squamatus), Paper Sunray (Rhodanthe corymbiflora), Vanilla lilies (Arthropodium spp.), Common Everlasting (Chrysocephalum apiculatum), Pale Beauty-heads (Calocephalus sonderi) and Lambs-tails (Ptilotus exaltatus). Perennial herbs that are characteristic of the community include Red Swainson Pea (Swainsona plagiotropis), Pink Bindweed (Convolvulus erubescens), Rough Burr-daisy (Calotis scabiosifolia), Broad-leaf Early Nancy (Wurmbea latifolia), Narrow-leaf Plantain (Plantago guadichaudii) and Billy Buttons (Pycnosorus globosus). In addition there are several characteristic Bluebushes – Slender Bluebush (Maireana pentagona), Bottle Bluebush (M. excavata), Dwarf Bluebush (M. humillima) and Common Bluebush (M. decalvans). The only other common chenopod in this grassland vegetation is Creeping Saltbush (Atriplex semibaccata). Others would have been abundant prior to extensive cultivation and grazing e.g. Rohrlach’s Bluebush (M. rohrlachii) and Leafless Bluebush (M. aphylla).

The other important groups of native species in Northern Plains Grassland Community are the diminutive annuals and woody shrubs. The most common annuals are Small-flowered Goodenia (Goodenia pusilliflora), Hairy Stylewort (Levenhookia dubia), Grass cushion (Isoetopsis graminifolia), Common Sunray (Triptilodiscus pygmaeus), and Woolly Mantle (Eriochlamys behrii). Although many shrub species have been recorded in grassland vegetation throughout the region, most are rare, with only Woolly Buttons (Leiocarpa panaetioides) and Common Bluebush regularly persisting in infrequently grazed remnants.

Exotic species, particularly annual grasses and herbs, are always present in some abundance. Exotic herbs more diverse and frequent, although grasses can often have a high cover at any particular site. The common species include Smooth Cat’s-ear (*Hypochoeris glabra), Cape Weed (*Arctotheca calendula), Onion Weeds (*Romulea minutiflora and *R. rosea), Clovers (*Trifolium spp.), Centaury (*Centaurium tenuiflorum) and annual grasses such as Annual Rye-grass (*Lolium rigidum), Wild Oats (*Avena fatua) and Soft Brome (*Bromus hordeaceus).

As on all other grassland communities, past management history influences occurrence of different species. Where there has been little grazing (usually along roadsides and rail reserves) annual species are scarce, seasonal perennial herbs dominate and a number of often significant shrubs persist. Where grazing has been frequent, a slightly different flora persists where dominance is shared between the grasses, seasonal perennial and annual herbs.

In the grazed and drier (<375 mm annual rainfall) parts of the Northern Plains there is generally species-poor grassland vegetation supporting a range of characteristic species - Hard-head Daisy (Brachyscome lineariloba), Stiff Cup-flower (Pogonolepis muelleriana), Narrow-leaf Sida (Sida trichopoda), Yakka Grass (Sporobolus caroli) and Nitre Bush (Nitraria billardierei). This vegetation possibly represents a northern grassland form that was formerly dominated by a range of shrubs (especially chenopods) which has been severely depleted by irrigation and associated groundwater salinisation.

In damper areas, in association with gilgai or local depressions where water regularly pools during the growing season, another form of Northern Plains Grassland Community persists. This vegetation is characterised by the presence of hydrophilic grass species (e.g. Rigid Panic (Whalleya proluta, some Austrostipa spp.), semi-aquatic herbs such as Woolly Heads (Myriocephalus rhizocephalus) and a number of other plants typically found in wetter environments.

The eastern higher rainfall grasslands have many species in common with the drier western sub-communities, but tends to be dominated more by a variety of native perennial grasses. Common species include Blown grass (Lachnagrostis filifolia), Swamp Wallaby-grasses (Amphibromus nervosus and A. macrorhinus), Rigid Panic (Homopholis proluta), Windmill grass (Chloris truncata), Red-leg Grass (Bothriochloa macra), Wallaby-grasses and some scattered areas of Kangaroo Grass. There tend to be fewer chenopods, fewer native annual species, and more perennial weeds such as Fog grasses (*Holcus setosus and *H. lanatus), Paspalum (*Paspalum dilatatum), Canary grasses (*Phalaris aquatica and *P. paradoxa) and Nut-grass (*Gastridium phleoides). There are also some of the common species of Grassy Woodlands throughout the Riverine Plain such as Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa), Wattle Mat-rush (Lomandra filiformis), Bindweeds (Convolvulus angustissimus and C. wimmerensis), Yellowish Blue-bell (Wahlenbergia luteola) and Scaly Buttons (Leptorhynchos squamatos).

A number of state and nationally rare or threatened flora and fauna have been recorded from grasslands of the Northern Plains. Nationally significant species include Fragrant Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum suaveolens), Turnip Bassia (Sclerolaena napiformis), Chariot Wheels (Maireana cheelii), Red Swainson-pea (Swainsona plagiotropis), Murray Swainson-pea (S. murrayana), Spiny Rice-flower (Pimelea spinescens subsp. spinescnes), Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar), Plains wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus), Hooded Scaly-foot (Pygopus nigriceps) and Sun Moth (Synemon sp. aff. selene).

Key sites

Terrick Terrick National Park

Yassom Swamp Flora and Fauna Reserve

Kinyapanial Grassland

Naringaningalook Grassland

Glasson’s grasslands

Echuca aerodrome

Terrick Terrick East

Korrak Korrak Grassland Reserve

Pine Grove and Roslynmead Grasslands

Balmattum Nature Conservation Bushland Reserve

Rail reserves e.g. Hunter, Mitiamo-Pyramid Hill, Glenrowan, Boorhaman

Roadsides e.g. Mitiamo, Lalbert-Kerang, Bael Bael-Quambatook, Suttie (Quambatook), Adamthwaite (Budgerum), Three Chain (Tungamah), Tandara

Old Mysia School

Numurkah Rifle Range

several private land sites


Over the last 170 years, intensive irrigated and dryland agriculture and domestic stock grazing has destroyed an estimated 99.75% of the habitat of the Northern Plains Grassland Community, and significantly altered the remainder (Maher & Baker-Gabb 1993, Foreman 1995) Most of the grassland remnants are found as small, isolated patches wherever disturbance has been minimal, along railway lines, roadsides, on miscellaneous crown land and on private farmland. The largest and most important remnants are found on private land and are still threatened by destruction resulting from agricultural changes.

Threats include:

  • further clearing for agriculture and cropping

  • weed invasion – African Box-thorn, Bathurst Burr, Wheel Cactus, Horehound, Paterson’s Curse, Annual Rye-grass, Wild Oats, in wetter areas, Phalaris & Paspalum

  • overgrazing and undergrazing

  • road and rail maintenance works

  • cultivation, slashing and inappropriate burning for fire breaks

  • tree planting within native grassland remnants, especially on roadsides

  • trampling of sites at inappropriate times of the year

  • salinity may be a future problem

Previous management action

Strategic planning

  • A strategic plan for nature conservation was developed for the Northern Plain (Foreman 1996b) for a five year period commencing in 1996/97.

  • Roadside management plans developed by many Shires e.g. Gannawarra, Buloke, Moira

  • Action Statements outlining conservation management actions for the following Northern Plains grassland species have been completed and are in implementation phase: Delma impar (Striped Legless Lizard No. 17), Falco hypoleucos (Grey Falcon No. 83), Pedionomus torquatus (Plains-wanderer No. 66), Synemon plana (Golden Sun Moth No. 106), Pygopus nigriceps (Hooded Scaly-foot No. 108).


  • Yassom Swamp Flora and Fauna Reserve and Patho Flora and Fauna Reserve have been formally reserved via the Land Conservation Council’s public land use review process.

  • The Davies property purchased and added to the Terrick Terrick State Park, to form the Terrick Terrick National Park.

  • Purchase by Trust for Nature of the Kinyapanial, Naringaningalook and Glasson’s grasslands

  • 214 ha of private land purchased by NRE in 2000 to create the new Terrick Terrick East Grassland Conservation Reserve

  • Korrak Korrak Grassland Reserve (246 ha) purchased in 2002 by Trust for Nature as part of the National Reserve System, with assistance from NHT and the RE Ross Trust.

  • Purchase of Roslynmead, adjoining Patho and a section north of Patho

  • Patho Flora and Fauna Reserve added to Roslynmead Nature Conservation Reserve

  • Purchase of 89.4 ha Kotta grasslands, between Mitiamo and Echuca

  • Purchase and reservation of Balmattum Nature Conservation Reserve

  • Purchase and reservation of 121 ha of grassland near Warnup on the Patho Plains

Protection and management

  • Conservation management guidelines for remnant grasslands throughout the Riverina of NSW and Victoria developed (Diez and Foreman 1996).

  • Patho Flora Reserve fenced in 1992,

  • Over last ten years, selected rail and road reserves sign posted, fenced and burnt to protect populations of significant species and high quality examples of the vegetation community, e.g Hunter, Glenrowan

  • improved management regimes of several key grassland remnants on private ongoing

  • WWF/NHT grassy ecosystem grants 2001: Victorian Riverine Plains Protected Area Network Project

  • Management plan completed and implemented for Wangaratta Common

Community education and extension

  • WWF/NHT grassy ecosystem grants 2000: Grassland Conservers (Trust for Nature)

  • WWF/NHT grassy ecosystem grants 2001: Grassland Conservers Part 2 – Trust for Nature

Inventory and survey

  • Maher & Baker-Gabb (1993) undertook surveys for Plains-wanderers in northern Victoria which have helped to identify a number of very important grassland remnants in the region.

  • Surveys of grassland remnants and establishment of management trials through La Trobe University and the then Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (Foreman 1995, 1996b)

  • Survey conducted by Paul Foreman (MSc thesis, La Trobe University) identified significant grassland remnants across the Northern Plain (including Pine Grove (near Mitiamo) and Kinypanial) and information stored on NRE’s Flora Information System (FIS).

  • Vegetation surveys in the Shires of Loddon, Gannawarra and Buloke identified additional significant grassland remnants particularly on roadsides and on private property (Foreman & Westerway 1994, Foreman & Garner 1996, Foreman and Bailey 1996). A key privately owned site at Budgerum (North of Quambatook) was identified and described.

  • World Wide Fund for Nature Conservation survey for Red Swainson-pea and associated grassland habitat (McDougall et. al. 1991, McDougall and Kirkpatrick 1994)

  • National Estate Grants Program sponsored survey for Plains-wanderers and suitable habitat on private property across Northern Victoria (Maher and Baker-Gabb 1993)

  • All known Northern Plains sites were placed on the Grasslands Register, an Access database developed by VNPA and administered by DSE.

  • Surveys of private land throughout the Northern Plain were undertaken to identify additional significant remnants to be targeted for land acquisition or other conservation management activities.

  • Surveys and identification of significant grassland remnants on rail reserves within the Riverina, in 1999, 2000 and 2001

  • In 1997 and 1999 systematic monitoring of recorded Swainsona populations was carried out. All data has been entered into the VROTPop database (DSE)

Economic issues

  • A La Trobe University project to document the economic benefits of native grasslands on farms across south-eastern Australia was undertaken. Land and Water Resources, Research and Development Corporation (LWRRDC) provided additional funding for a further study through Melbourne University expanding on this project (Jim Crosthwaite pers comm.).

  • projects were undertaken to explore the use of incentives and other financial instruments for achieving nature conservation goals in private and leasehold land (Crosthwaite 1997)

Biological research and monitoring

  • Research into the general ecology of Northern Plains Grassland Community with particular emphasis on conservation management was initiated in 1993 by La Trobe University and documented as an MSc thesis (Foreman 1996). Experimental plots continue to be monitored.

  • A report on sustainability of Plains-wanderers in the Terrick Terrick area was produced (Baker-Gabb 1993)

  • Research was undertaken into management techniques at Terrick Terrick NP to enhance biodiversity outcomes

  • A PhD has commenced at Charles Sturt University, conducting research into management techniques at Terrick Terrick National Park

  • BSc thesis undertaken, analysing vegetation data collected from Terrick Terrick National Park between 1992 and 1999. (Conway 2000)

  • Review of grazing in Terrick Terrick National Park commissioned by Parks Victoria. (Westbrooke et al. (1999)

  • Parks Victoria commissioned a preliminary assessment of vegetation in Terrick Terrick National Park (Lunt et al. 1999).

South Gippsland Plains Grassland

Description and Distribution

Despite its name, the South Gippsland Plains Grassland is not restricted to South Gippsland. It occurs in the Gippsland Plain Bioregion, on flats in the Yarram region to the east of Wilsons Promontory. The community begins to appear near Giffard, where Forest Red Gum starts to be replaced by Swamp Gum (Eucalyptus ovata) and Black Sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis) . It probably did not occur on the Yanakie Isthmus, but then re-appears near Cranbourne and around Westernport. However its distribution to the west is unclear because remnants are so small and surveys closer to Melbourne have been somewhat ad hoc. A previous occurrence of the community at Jack Smith Lake is thought to be extinct. Most of the former range of this community has been heavily utilised for agriculture and converted to introduced pastures. The best estimate for the remaining total area of relatively intact remnants is less than 15 ha, (Frood pers. comm.) with perhaps 10 ha of other degraded remnants. no more than 0.1% of the original distribution remains (Cook pers. comm.).

The Gippsland RFA Biodiversity Assessment Report (Commonwealth of Australia 2000a) equates the community to EVC 132-05 Plains Grassland.

Although there are few remnants in existence, the original vegetation structure is likely to have been an open-woodland which included areas of very sparsely treed tussock-grassland, and shrubby zones associated with drainage lines (Frood 1991). It would have covered an ecological range from Themeda-dominated vegetation on non-saline plains to ecotonal Poa labillardieri dominated vegetation on brackish near-coastal sites.

The present structure of the community ranges from closed tussock grassland to open woodland. Frood (pers. comm.) identifies the following character species for the community - Common Blown-grass (Lachnagrostis filifolia), Smooth Wallaby-grass (Austrodanthonia laevis), Heath Wallaby-grass (Notodanthonia semiannularis), Mat Grass (Hemarthria uncinata), Finger Rush (Juncus subsecundus), Common Bog Sedge (Schoenus apogon), Common Tussock-grass (Poa labillardieri) and Blown Grass (Lachnagrostis aemula). Other common species include Milkmaids (Burchardia umbellata), Wiry Buttons (Leptorhynchos tenuifolius), Spiny-headed Mat-lily (Lomandra longifolia), Shady Wood-sorrel (Oxalis exilis), Five-awned Spear-grass (Pentapogon quadrifidus), Varied Raspwort (Haloragis heterophylla), Bidgee-widgee (Aceana novae-zelandiae), Reed Bent-grass (Deyeuxia quadriseta) and Yellow Rush-lily (Tricoryne elatior). Other occasional occurrences as Bulbine-lily (Bulbine bulbosa), Scaly Buttons Leptorhynchos squamatus, Creeping Bossiaea (Bossiaea prostrata) and Common Rice-flower (Pimelia humilis) (Commonwealth of Australia 2000).

There is some variation in the community reflecting variation in soil type, soil moisture and salinity. In drier variants or those of lighter soil types which may still be seasonally waterlogged, the vegetation is dominated by a dense sward of Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra) in association with Mat Grass. Common Tussock-grass is typically only a minor component of the sward in these sites. A range of Wallaby Grasses, forbs, geophytes and Spear Grasses are also present.. Wetter sites dominated either by Common Tussock Grass or Kangaroo Grass include species shared with seasonal wetlands, such as Eleocharis spp., Soft Twig-sedge (Baumera rubiginosa), Poison Lobelia (Lobelia pratioides), Floating Club-sedge (Isolepis fluitans) and Prickfoot (Eryngium vesiculosum).

In damper areas where Common Tussock-grass is conspicuous in the vegetation, most of the additional character species for the drier site/lighter soils vegetation, including Kangaroo Grass, are sparse to absent. The suite of associated herbaceous species varies between non-saline and brackish sites. The non-saline flora has marked similarities to plains grassland sub-communities from heavy black volcanic soils around Merri Creek, north of Melbourne eg. including species such as Common Woodruff (Asperula conferta), Brown-back Wallaby-grass (Austrodanthonia duttoniana), Blown-grass (Lachnagrostis punicea subsp. punicea), Milky Beauty-heads (Calochephalus lacteus), Slender Speedwell (Veronica gracilis) and in more brackish sites Australian Salt-grass (Distichlis distichophylla). More saline sites can include saltmarsh species such as Sea Rush (Juncus krausii) and Round-leaf Wilsonia (Wilsonia rotundifolia).

Threatened species include Maroon Leek-orchid (Prasophyllum frenchii) and Matted Flax-lily (Dianella amoena). The nationally endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus obesulus) has been recorded utilising plains grassland habitat along the Clyde-Tooradin rail line.

No known remnants occur on private land. Five small sites are known. The largest remnants are approximately 10ha and 5 ha in size. Remnants also occur on the South Gippsland rail line between Clyde and Tooradin (Cook & Yugovic in press).

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