Natural temperate grasslands (Southern Tablelands)
Who cares about this colourful collection of critters?
These grasslands are naturally treeless ecosystems dominated by native tussock grasses. These grasses include Themeda (Kangaroo grasses) Danthonia (Wallaby Grasses, Poa (Tussock Grasses) and Stipa (Spear Grasses). There are also many species of native forbs (eg sedges, and rushes and species with names like Scrambled Eggs, Creamy Candles, Early Nancy, Native Bluebells and Hairy Buttons.
Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Southern Tablelands provide habitat for a number of nationally threatened species including the Pink-Tailed Worm-lizard, the Striped Legless Lizard, Small Purple Pea, Button Wrinklewort, Monaro Golden Daisy and Toadflax.
Other species include the Canberra Raspy Cricket, Perunga Grasshopper, Golden Sun Moth, Eastern Banjo Frog, Little Whip Snake and the Eastern Lined Earless Dragon.
Natural temperate grasslands were formerly widespread in the temperate regions of south-eastern Australia. It is estimated that there were 250 000 hectares at the time of European settlement particularly in areas of lower elevations. Large parts of the plains and river valleys here (Monaro Plains, Yass Plains, Bungendore Plains, Goulburn Plains and Limestone Plains) supported extensive areas of these grasslands. In particular, it was the dominant vegetation type in the Molonglo River Valley including the Jerrabombera and Majura Valleys.
Today it is believed that less than 1% of the pre-European extent remains in moderate to good condition.
Threats to our native temperate grasslands include clearing, nutrient enrichment, inappropriate grazing, altered burning practices, neglect, fragmentation, tree planting and the invasion of exotic weed species like Serrated Tussock, African Lovegrass, St John's Wort and Phalaris.
The ACT Government has completed and published an Action Plan for natural temperate grasslands that occur in the ACT and signed a series of agreements with relevant Commonwealth management authorities. Protection of high conservation value sites continues through reservation and negotiated management agreements.
Community groups continue to rehabilitate and protect local sites. A field guide to the flora of the southern tablelands grassy ecosystems has been prepared by Environment ACT, NSW NPWS, WWF and the ANBG.
Join a Friends of Grasslands group and assist in community action to rehabilitate and protect temperate grassland remnants.
You can also find out more information about Australia's threatened species by calling the Department of the Environment and Heritage's Community Information Unit on free call 1800 803 772