Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Phone: 02 62.. ....
ACTPLA Customer Service Centre
GPO Box 1908
Canberra ACT 2601
Lawson South Planning Study
I am writing to provide comments on the above proposal. Friends of Grasslands (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 the conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FoG is based in Canberra and its more than 200 members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
FoG has followed closely matters at Lawson and provided submissions and taken an active part in consultations. It generally supports the proposed development, especially as it combines high intensity housing, and therefore less imprint on the land, with sensible open space provisions, and provides for a broad buffer between the urban development and what is likely to be extensive grassland reserves in North Lawson.
FoG notes, however, that there will be removal of extensive areas of yellow box red gum grassy woodland, habitat for golden sun moth, a small area of natural temperate grassland, and areas of native pasture. It accepts that this destruction will not itself be critical to the survival of box woodlands, golden sun moth or natural temperate grassland. However, each time there is a reduction the overall future of such ecosystems and communities is threatened – death by a thousand cuts, and FoG has for some time now been advocating the principle of no-net-loss which we believe that the ACT Government is coming increasingly to accept – certainly other Australian Governments have legislated this principle. FoG believes that in the development of Lawson South, there is ample scope to apply this principle, as well as to pick up a theme of Lawson South being a home to Canberrans living a sustainable lifestyle in harmony with nature and particularly supporting several threatened species. In fact it would be rather unique in this respect. Experience with Forde residents, through the monitoring by Bush on the Boundary, suggests that promoting harmony with nature is a positive market signal.
We therefore we propose that the principle of no-net-loss of native vegetation in general and in particular no-net-loss of woodlands, habitat for golden sun moth and striped legless lizard be adopted. This would mean that much larger areas, than those cleared, be developed, using the services of a skilled suitably qualified landscape designer, grassland ecologist, and horticulturalist, to develop suitable areas of woodland, natural temperate grassland, and habitat for golden sun moth and striped legless lizard. To the maximum extent possible, as both the moth and lizard will only move slowly into adjacent habitat, new areas need to be connected with existing habitat. Thought should also be given to developing suitable sites for translocation of Ginninderra peppercress, currently only known to exist in Lawson, thus making it something unique to Lawson. These areas would need to be maintained and protected and so some thought needs to be given to how public access could be managed.
As cats would be a threat to both moth and lizard, in North Lawson, cat containment should be mandatory. Signposting and literature should point to the importance of Lawson as a home for threatened species. This should be reinforced by only using local grassland and woodland plants for landscaping and encouraging their use in home gardens. Apart from the species mentioned, another threatened species, the superb parrot, probably already uses Lawson, and its presence should likewise be promoted.
FoG would be happy to be consulted further on these proposals.
19 May 2009