NEWS 28 January 2022 | Page last updated: 28/01/2023
Grasslands are subtle. To the untrained eye the rich web of life that lives within them isn’t obvious. Animals and plants that make grasslands their home are on the edge of extinction. The Spiny Rice-flower, Matted Flax Lily, Growling Grass Frog, Striped Legless Lizard and the Golden Sun Moth are all critically endangered.
The challenges are as vast as our determination
We’re convinced of the value of grasslands, but the same can’t be said for those in charge of looking after them. We spent much of last year highlighting the ongoing failure of government to protect our ancient grasslands.
The grasslands we spend so much of our time shining a light on are routinely abused, ignored, dumped on, congested with weeds and missing many of the glorious plants and critters that can make them so amazing.
Last year we worked closely with the Grassy Plains Network (GPN) to stop the gratuitous clearing of Ajax Road Grassland. Their efforts paid off, with a victory at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The high didn’t last too long, with the destruction of Conservation Area 9, an illegal act highlighting a lack of planning protections and oversight across all levels of government.
Another example of the plight of Grasslands is Development Victoria’s push to clear Section G Grassland in Cairnlea – which the GPN opposed at the Government Land Standing Advisory Committee planning panel. We’re waiting to hear what the planning minister decides will happen to Section G Grassland.
What are we hoping for this year?
Top of the list, a full review of the disastrous Melbourne Strategic Assessment and the Western Grassland Reserve. This is the failing centrepiece of the state government’s supposed grassland conservation activities. Another is the inadequate funding Parks Victoria receives to manage the grasslands in their care.
We’ll track what’s happening at the 36 Conservation Areas in Melbourne’s growth corridors. We’ll push the new Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (formerly known as DELWP) to actively protect the last high-quality grasslands in middle-ring Melbourne.
We need visible restoration sites that very publicly showcase what’s possible. We need more grassland content in schools. We need outreach programs.
Never a dull moment! And we’re getting traction, thanks to all our supporters.
What’s planned for the year ahead?
We’ll be supporting the Grassy Plains Network to deliver a host of exciting events and campaigns. These include:
The Melbourne Strategic Assessment, including the Western Grassland Reserve and the 36 Conservation Areas
- Pushing for a full review of the Melbourne Strategic Assessment (MSA) and the Western Grassland Reserve
- Pressing for maximum penalties to be applied to those responsible for the destruction of Conservation Area 9
- Running a series of online forums and site visit focusing on the 36 Conservation Areas within the urban growth corridors
- Organising a debriefing event to follow-on from our Western Grassland Reserve online forums and site visits
- Pushing for proper management and protection of the remaining unprotected grasslands in middle-ring Melbourne.
Engagement and education
- The Grassy Plains Network will continue to have regular meetings
- Producing a good online grasslands map
- Multilingual (Mandarin, Arabic, Karen, Vietnamese and Hindi) grassland programs
- Grassy talks, Spring tours and field trips
- Broader grassland education into schools.
Waiting, waiting, waiting
- The first two-yearly report on the progress of the MSA from the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability is due before end of March
- The government’ response to the Ecosystem Decline Inquiry is due before 3 May
- The planning minister’s decision on the Development Victoria’s proposal to destroy the Section G Grassland is still to be determined and made public.
Find all the latest events and sign-up to their mailing list on the GrassyPlainsNetwork.net.au.
The Victorian National Parks Association hosts the Grassy Plains Network . They have successfully extended their funding to May 2024.