Oberon Carter, Anna M. Murphy and David Cheal – Flora Ecology Research Section,
Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research
Department of Natural Resources & Environment (Victoria), May 2003
About the report
A starting point for this report is the provision of an objective definition of Natural Temperate Grassland. The definition here offered is based on a set of rules extracted from the academic literature, and utilises opinions of various grassland experts. This definition provides a basis for recognising and delimiting a coherent grassland vegetation community - as evidenced by its consistent physiognomy and functional relationships. After all, the term 'Natural Temperate Grassland' is itself merely a label or, at best, an imperfect summary of the vegetation community. The individual components of the label, ie. 'natural', 'temperate' and 'grassland', are each imprecise and open to individual interpretation (eg. see McDougall 1992; Benson 1996; Angermeier 1999). If the term 'Natural Temperate Grassland' were an adequate definition per se then there would be little need for this whole project!
Following on from the definition, the report provides a key for the identification of Natural Temperate Grassland. The intention for the key is that a person with basic botanical/ecological knowledge can distinguish Natural Temperate Grassland from non-Natural Temperate Grassland whilst standing at a site, without maps, historical records or externally-sourced environmental data.