NATIVE GRASSY WOODLAND RESTORATION
Gippsland’s Redgum Grassy Woodlands are a critically endangered ecological community. To help preserve them and increase their range, Gippsland Critical Minerals proposes to restore this threatened community on the Fingerboards project site.
This will be the single most ambitious restoration of this type undertaken in Victoria, and likely Australia, creating a major ecological asset for the region.
The importance of native grassy communities
Temperate native grasslands and grassy woodlands typically occurred across arable regions of Australia (~500 mm annual rainfall) and are renowned their rich floral and faunal diversity.
High quality native grassy communities are dominated by tussock grasses (such as Kangaroo and Wallaby Grass) with an array of wildflowers (including daisies, lilies and orchids) amidst them. In grassy woodlands, there is also a woody component represented by large spreading widely spaced trees (predominantly eucalypts such as red gums).
Due to human impacts, there is an urgent need to restore these native grassy communities. Since European settlement they have been reduced to a tiny fraction of their original range and quality. Across most landscapes where they originally existed, they have been replaced by agriculture, cites, towns and other forms of development and most remaining remnants are small fragmented, and degraded.
Restoring native grassy communities
Many factors must be addressed when restoring grassy communities. Among the most important for success are:
- Access to seed - Because these native communities are so rare and precious, commercial seed supply is very limited, expensive and often of variable quality. Importantly, small amounts of wild seed (from many species) can be used to grow cultivated seed crops in what are known as Seed Production Areas (SPAs). From these, large amounts of high quality seed can be produced for restoration purposes.
- Reducing weeds - Exotic weeds are a major barrier restoring native grassy communities. Weeds grow vigorously in highly fertilised agricultural landscapes and Australian plants which have evolved on lower nutrient soils, are at a large disadvantage. Removing a shallow slice of this nutrient and weed laden topsoil has been used to great effect to create conditions where natives can be successfully established by seed.
- Knowledge and technology - Considerable research has been conducted in southeast Australia over recent decades and shed light on techniques and approaches for restoring species-rich grasslands and grassy woodlands. This knowledge now provides a firm basis for improving the success of future restoration programs.