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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

28 September 2001

Future of Six Grassland Properties Secure with $500,000 in Federal Funding

Six rare and endangered areas of grassland on Victorian properties are to become part of the National Reserve System Program after the Federal Government contributed over $502,000 to preserve and protect them.

Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage made the announcement at the Balmattum property near Violet Town today, where two threatened plant communities will be preserved with the help of Natural Heritage Trust funding.

"Today's announcement means that nearly 1,000 hectares of additional land across Victoria will be protected under the National Reserve System. This will mean the area will be conserved for the diversity of its plant and animal life", Sharman Stone said.

Sharman Stone said that by helping to purchase 220 hectares of woodland reserve at Balmattum, the Federal Government was protecting the habitat of two threatened plant communities.

"The Gilgai Plain Woodland/Wetland Mosaic and Plains Grassy Woodland are under threat. Less than 1% of the original grassland and grassy woodlands that existed in southeastern Australia in 1788 remains today."

"Most of our grasslands across Victoria have been ploughed or fertilised to provide the cropping and grazing that has given us a great standard of living. The time has come, however, to try and keep some of the last few pockets of grassland spaces that once covered huge areas", Sharman Stone said.

"This is why the Federal Government has committed $502,000 to purchase these six areas to add to our national system of protected areas".

"Almost 34,000 hectares have been added to the National Reserve System in our region since the beginning of the Natural Heritage Trust in 1996. This significant achievement is all the more impressive as purchases of land for conservation are rare in rural Victoria due to high land productivity and low landholder turnover".

"We are still finding the commercial value of some of these native grasses as drought and fire resistant species. However even if the native grasses are not premium feed for sheep or cattle, they are often essential for the sustaining of our native bird, insect and reptile species", Sharman Stone said.

Information on each of the six reserves:

Burrah Burrah - (69ha) Protects an example of the Grampians Alluvial Terraces Woodland (Red Gum)/ Red Gum ephemeral wetland ecosystem. This is the only location for this ecosystem in Victoria. Significant species sighted on the property include the Brolga and Great Egret. The reserve forms part of a strategic plan to ensure comprehensive, adequate and representative reservation within the Victorian Volcanic Plains Bioregion. Adjoins the Grampians National Park on three sides.

Bendoc - (233ha) Protects the largest area of native montane grassland and grassy woodland remaining in the South Eastern Highlands IBRA region in Victoria, and probably the most intact example of Monaro Plains grassland in Australia. The property contains the most southerly extent of this vegetation community, which is currently unreserved in Victoria's and only represented in two flora reserves in NSW.

Gillingall (Greenhills) - (60ha) Protects native grasslands on basaltic soils near Buchan. The property contains one of the last remaining areas of native grassland within the South East Corner IBRA region, including the largest population in Australia of the nationally vulnerable Austral Toad-flax Thesium australe.

Parrie Yalloak - (200ha) Protects one of the highest quality examples of the Plains Grassy Woodland in the region. This broad vegetation type is one of Victoria's most depleted ecosystems, with only 3.4% of its original cover remaining in the State. The property has been added to the Grampians National Park.

Balmattum - (220ha) (Location of Launch) The only relatively large woodland reserve in the south-eastern Riverina. It contains the habitat for two threatened plant communities - the Gilgai Plain Woodland/Wetland Mosaic of which only 2.31% is reserved in the Riverina; and the Plains Grassy Woodland of which only 0.17% is reserved in the Riverina. In 1993 tree cover in the Victorian Riverina encompassed only 6% of the region and less than 1% of the original grassland and grassy woodland vegetation complexes remain.

Terrick Terrick East - (210ha) Was one of largest remaining grassland sites on private land in the Riverina. It contains two vegetation units regarded as high priority for conservation - the Western Northern Plains Grassland Complex and the Gilgai Plains Complex. The reserve contains identified habitat for the Brolga and Plains Wanderer.

Simon Frost 0419 495 468

September 28th 2001

Commonwealth of Australia