$305,000 redress for clearing endangered Victorian grassland
17 August 2012
The Australian Government has secured a legally enforceable $305,000 pledge from plantation timber company Hancock Victorian Plantations Pty Ltd to repair damage done to a critically endangered grassland in south western Victoria and to better protect what remains.
Between March and May last year, a contractor employed by Hancock Victorian Plantations cleared an area about the size of a soccer field (0.7ha) of a protected ecological community, known as Natural Temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain, near Mannibadar.
The company was harvesting timber at its Bradvale Plantation and reported the incident to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
The company has agreed to spend $305,000 towards the recovery and rehabilitation of grasslands in the region by:
- securing another area of grassland of the same or better quality to offset the impacts to the ecological community;
- controlling weeds nearby;
- assessing and mapping the conservation values of over 2,500 ha of its plantation estate on the Victorian Volcanic Plains, and
- training field staff in native grassland identification, reviewing work processes, and employing a planning coordinator to ensure better protection of biodiversity when harvesting timber.
The Natural Temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain, once widespread from western Melbourne to the Hamilton region, is now one of the state's most threatened and fragmented ecosystems. Less than five per cent remains. Most patches of grassland - characterised by kangaroo grasses, wallaby grasses, spear grasses, tussock grasses and native herbs - are small at less than 10 hectares in size.
These grasslands provide a home for many threatened species, including the Striped Legless Lizard, Spiny Rice-flower and Small Golden Moths Orchid.
It is so important it has been listed as a matter of national environmental significance, warranting the same level of federal protection as a world heritage listed area.
This enforceable undertaking reflects the department's zero tolerance approach to damage to nationally listed ecological communities and its commitment to address contraventions of national environmental law quickly and effectively. It will ensure that appropriate remedial action happens on the ground as soon as possible.
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