Grasslands of Victoria’s Volcanic Plains are our rarest habitat type in our state. Once covering almost a third of Victoria, now less than 2-5% remains. 

A decade ago, in a rush to clear the way to ‘streamline’ approvals for property development and Melbourne’s growth, the state and federal governments stitched up a deal (called the Melbourne Strategic Assessment) to clear about 6,000 hectares of grasslands within the ‘urban growth boundary’.

In exchange for this clearing, developers were to pay a levy, which was then to be used to purchase large grassland reserves outside the urban growth boundary – an ‘offset’. These reserves were supposed to be largely delivered by 2020 – but these promises have been broken. To date:

  • only 10% of designated land has been acquired for the Western Grassland Reserve.
  • no land has been acquired for the Grassy Eucalypt Woodland Reserve.

There is also significant evidence that the quality of the grasslands being protected in the reserves is not of the same quality as the grasslands being cleared. Poor oversight and poor monitoring are among a raft of other issues.

To add insult to injury, the Federal Government, one half of the deal, has been missing in action on the issue.

Please email the Federal Minister of the Environment Sussan Ley requesting the Australian Government enforce the commitment to protect Victoria’s grasslands under our national environment laws.

You can also send a message to the Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio calling for an urgent examination of how to prioritise acquisition, protection and management of our critically endangered grasslands.


Dear Minister Ley,

I am writing to you as I am alarmed by a lack of action by the Australian Government to ensure the delivery of promises to protect Victoria’s most endangered ecosystems – our grasslands.

Grasslands of Victoria’s Volcanic Plains are our rarest habitat type in Victoria. Once covering almost a third of the state, now less than 2–5% remains.

‘Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Victorian Volcanic Plain’ and ‘Grassy Woodlands of the Victorian Volcanic Plain’ are both listed under national environmental laws as ‘critically endangered’ – the step before extinction in the wild. They are home to 32 threatened flora and 25 threatened fauna listed under national environmental laws including Growling Grass Frog, Golden Sun Moth, Striped Legless Lizard, Matted Flax-lily and several migratory bird species.

A decade ago, the Federal Government signed off on the Melbourne Strategic Assessment under our national environmental laws.

Ten years later, the Victorian Government has failed to deliver its commitment to protect these critically endangered grasslands and associated habitat types. A Victorian Auditor-General Report has shown that key promises to create large new grassland reserves, originally to be completed by 2020, have been broken. To date:

  • only 10% of designated land has been acquired for the Western Grassland Reserve.
  • no land has been acquired for the Grassy Eucalypt Woodland Reserve.

There is also significant evidence that the quality of the grasslands being protected in the reserves is not of the same quality as the grasslands being cleared for development. Poor oversight and poor monitoring are among a raft of other issues. Now the state faces paying potentially millions in extra compensation to landowners instead of on fixing the grasslands.

To add insult to injury, the Federal Government, one half of the deal, has been missing in action on the issue.

I request that you enforce the commitments made in the Melbourne Strategic Assessment, and see that the ecological outcomes are at least consistent with, or better than, the original promises to protect our nationally-significant grassy ecosystems.

You should not repeat the mistakes made with the Melbourne Strategic Assessment by handing more powers back to the states, or entrenching Strategic Assessments as a ‘streamlining tool’ in the current review of Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Latest Activity

  • Photo of animal
    Barbara 2 days ago
  • Photo of animal
    Matt 4 days ago
  • Photo of animal
    Marie 4 days ago