Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Phone: 02 62.. ....
Gungahlin Planning Study
c/- Development Policy
ACT Planning and Land Authority
PO Box 1908
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Gungahlin town centre study
I am writing to provide Friends of Grasslands (FoG) comments on the above. FoG is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south eastern Australia. FoG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FoG is based in Canberra and its around 200 members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public. FoG has a long term interest in the conservation and management of remnant natural temperate grasslands and grassy woodlands in the Gungahlin area.
While the Mulanggari Grassland Reserve is not within the study area (noted in Issues Paper, sn 8.2), developments in the Town Centre have the potential to affect the Reserve, and future changes may affect grassy woodlands at Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, on the northern fringe of the Town Center. FoG would like to draw your attention to possible issues requiring further consideration related to both these areas.
Direct impacts. FoG's view is that future development works, in particular construction activity, should not encroach on the grasslands or grassy woodland. Experience in other parts of the ACT has shown that inadequate mitigation measures (e.g. to deal with heavy vehicle movements, spoil placement and drainage), can result in accidental damage to adjacent, high conservation value sites during construction.
Landscape linkages. The Draft Concept Report (p11) mentions 'strengthening links to significant landscape features', which include the Mulanggari GR and Mulligans Flat NR. FoG's view is that landscape planning, in particular native vegetation retention and revegetation, should seek to enhance the conservation values of such areas, and not degrade them. For example, plantings within the Town Centre area, and linking to others particularly those with high conservation values, should use species compatible with conservation of such areas and appropriate as food/habitat by related fauna, and not use species that could spread into them as weeds.
Potential shading of adjacent native grassland. FoG notes that the Issues Paper (p32) includes the need to consider the interface of higher buildings and the Mulanggari GR, and FoG seeks that that this is not overlooked in the next stages of this study. Tall buildings to the north of the Mulanggari GR (e.g. the southern part of the area marked in Figure 6, p 18) could overshadow part of the Grassland, especially in winter, and disturb the ecological balance of this endangered ecological community (listed under the Nature Conservation Act 1980).
Community awareness. The natural temperate grassland and grassy woodland setting enhance the Gungahlin Town Centre story. FoG suggests that erection of suitable signs on adjoining and nearby grassland reserves to identify locations, and interpretation of the significant grassland values both on site and within the Town Center itself, could reduce accidental damage to the reserves by developers and the public which may arise from lack of knowledge about the conservation values of these areas.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposals.
16 June 2008