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Grassland clearing continues

One of Victoria's most endangered ecosystems, plains native grassland, is being destroyed despite apparently tougher state and federal controls.

Between 1994 and 2004 Victoria lost at least 40,000ha of native vegetation (equivalent in size to 4.5 football fields a day). Much of this (32,000ha) was native grassland.

In Victoria, Native Tussock Grasslands cover just 0.6% of their previous extent. In the Victorian Volcanic Plains eight of 56 mammal species are extinct and another 11 are in severe decline, occupying less than 10% of their former range.

In June 2008 the federal environment minister listed Plains Grassland ecological communities as critically endangered.

The Victorian Government has completed Victorian Environmental Assessment Council investigation into remnant native vegetation and Melbourne's livability.

There have been several recent examples of contentious native grasslands clearing, including:

  • Wyndham Vale, Werribee Plains: local conservationists say 100-300ha of moderate to good quality rocky grassland has been cleared with a rock-crushing machine, and a crop planted.
  • Moyston, Dunkeld Road: the Hamilton Field Naturalists Club found that a clearly signposted 'Significant Native Vegetation Area' roadside with good quality grassland had been ploughed and planted.

In addition, a proposal to clear 51ha of high quality native grassland at Sydenham for residential development has been referred to the federal environment minister.

This is part of the 95ha Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd site, which supports high-quality grassland home to the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth and Spiny Rice-flower.

Alarmingly, the proponent/owner is a privatised Commonwealth telecommunications entity not subject to state and local government controls.

There needs to be urgent action by the federal and state governments to stop grassland clearing and protect what's left.


Details of Grassland Clearing at Wyndham Vale, Werribee Plains (343kb pdf)
Details of Grassland Clearing Moyston Dunkeld Road, Western District (68kb pdf)
VNPA submission on proposed clearing of Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd site on the corner of Sydenham and Taylors Roads, Sydenham (25kb pdf)