NEWS 11 August 2022 |

A supposedly protected swathe of Victoria’s last remaining old-growth grassland has been destroyed following illegal dumping. Conservation Area 9 was a precious old-growth grassland remnant of Natural Temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain.

Its destruction is the latest in systemic government failures to protect the state’s rare grasslands, along with critical habitat for endangered wildlife as well as much needed green space for the local community. This act highlights the need to urgently acquire these high conservation value sites sooner rather than later.

Conservation Area 9, at 643–707 Mt Atkinson Road Truganina, has been illegally destroyed by the dumping of soil over the native vegetation and habitat. The destruction took place between December 2021 – January 2022 according to aerial imagery, but only came to the notice of authorities in April 2022.

Conservation Area 9 was committed to becoming a reserve as one of 36 biodiversity hotspots mandated in the urban growth corridors as part of the Melbourne Strategic Assessment (MSA) 

We know the MSA is a joint agreement between the Federal and Victorian Governments that, since 2009, “manages” biodiversity across Melbourne’s urban growth corridors. But for years now any Federal oversight has been absent.

The sad truth is that the MSA has been an instrument causing the decline of EPBC-listed species and communities, not their conservation.

The site was one of the very few places in Victoria that remained almost completely untouched by grazing, unploughed, a Kangaroo Grass dominated grassland, one of the rarest of the rare. And it was higher quality than almost any part of the proposed Western Grassland Reserves.

The lack of any plans to purchase most of these Conservation Areas further highlights both state and federal failures to effectively protect our native grasslands.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning are planning to leave these sites to developers to manage, with possible future handover to councils (or other authorities) on a vague case-by-case basis.

Until action is taken by our elected representatives, our critically endangered grasslands will continue to disappear.

The Victorian National Parks Association hosts the Grassy Plains Network. To stay up to date with all things grasslands, we encourage you to sign up to their mailing list if you haven’t already.