Natural Temperate Grassland (NTG) is a highly threatened ecosystem of south-east Australia and is one of many native grassland types in Australia. Nationally, it is critically endangered (http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/communities/maps/pubs/152-map.pdf). In the ACT, less than 5% of pre-1788 NTG remains. Less than 1% remains nationally. The NTG plant composition is dominated by Kangaroo Grass, a fire dependent plant that dies out and or gets overwhelmed by invasive exotic weeds in the absence of fires. Other common plants of the NTG are Wallaby grass, Spear grass and Poa grasses, along with many colourful flowering forbs. NTG is habitat for kangaroos, reptiles, birds, butterflies, moths and other insects, some of which are endangered, such as the Golden Sun Moth and the Earless Dragon (species list- needs link) This ecosystem typically occurs in frost hollows and along creek lines. A good example of an intact Grassland in the Ginninderra Catchment area is the Dunlop Grasslands Nature Reserve, click here to find the information brochure for this gem.
The Ginninderra Creek catchment contains many remnant patches of NTG in urban open spaces, road verges, nature reserves and rural land. For information on these areas go to Notable remnant patches.
For First Peoples these grasslands provided abundant food. They hunted the animals and dug up tubers of Yam Daisy and other plant species for roasting. They knew how these grasslands functioned and managed them with fire and sowing seed of preferred plants. This is called ‘fire-stick farming’.
The Ginninderra Catchment Groups (GCG) volunteers learn about these ancient practises and how to use them in combination with modern techniques to protect, restore and expand the Catchment’s remaining NTG patches and their connectivity to each other. As a result, trialling different fire managements regimes has been adopted along with more commonly used techniques like weeding, planting locally extinct species, scraping topsoil and sowing native seeds into large areas. Read more about Grassland Restoration with fire management here.
Some of our successful grassland restoration activities
- Initial Fire Trails: At Croke Place (below the Ginninderra Dam wall) a long-term fire management trial started in 2008, with Transport Canberra and City Services and the Rural Fire Service as project partners. The trail has demonstrated that autumn burning is required to stimulate germination and establishment of autumn germinating native plants. Spring burning, mowing or no management do not produce this desirable response. Weeds, such as African Lovegrass and Chilean Needle Grass, are slowly being replaced by the spreading of the native Kangaroo Grass after either spring or autumn burns.
- Extended Fire Trails: Extension of the initial fire trails to study the effects of fire and regimes at 13 study sites across the catchment (see Grassland Restoration with fire management and Native Grasslands Restoration Landcare Group).
- A ‘scrape & sow’ was done by Greening Australia in partnership with the ACT Government and the GCG at the Evatt Footbridge in autumn 2018. Weed infested top soil was removed and seeds of 50 local NTG species was sown. North Belconnen Landcare Group continues to weed this large new patch of NTG, called Betty Davis Wildflower Patch.
- At various locations along the Ginninderra creek tube stock of native forbs and grasses are being planted into remnant patches of NTG and cared for by Landcare groups including North Belconnen Landcare Group and Umbagong Landcare Group.
Want to learn more- here a great resources on Grassland Flora in our region
by David Eddy, David Mallinson, Rainer Rewhinkel, Sarah Sharp
Land of Sweeping Plains: Managing and Restoring the Native Grasslands of South-eastern Australia
by Adrian Marshall, Nicholas Williams, John Morgan
Species of the Natural Temperate Lowland Grasslands in the ACT and Region, produced by GCG, available at the office for a gold coin donation.
For a larger view, go here