Friends of Grasslands

supporting native grassy ecosystems


PO Box 987

Civic Square ACT 2608

Phone: 02 62.. ....


Subject: Action: NCA referral - removal of trees on national land

Received: Tuesday, 22 December, 2009, 2:27 AM

Dear Genevive,

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the National Capital Authority's EPBC referral (2009/5204, 19 November 2009) for removal of trees on national land last Friday. As the submission date has past, I write to offer some informal views from Friends of Grasslands to guide DEWHA and the Minister on conditions that you may consider in granting any approval.

Friends of Grasslands is a community group based in Canberra that promotes conservation of grassy ecosystems ( Stirling Park where some of the tree removal is proposed is the habitat of EPBC listed grassy woodlands and the endangered plant, Button Wrinkle Wort. Yarramundi Reach, also managed by the NCA, is habitat of EPBC listed temperate grasslands. Management of both NCA lands needs to improve if thesevalues are to survive.

In their referral, (s. 4) the NCA say that this action is for emergency removal of unsafe trees, that they are "preparing a detailed program ... for long term management of trees on National Land." Regarding removed trees it goes onto say that "the NCA intends to replace them as soon aspossible .... where possible all trees removed will be replaced like for like ..." The NCA propose a new referral for these additional activities. FOG makes the following points:

1. FOG supports removal of any dangerous trees and does not oppose the proposed action, rather we ask that consideration be given to additional ecological conditions.

2. The NCA should be obliged to base their tree removal program in part on their 2009 management plans for Stirling Park and Yarramundi Reach (attached) which are not cited in the referral.

3. Regarding Stirling Park, the exotic trees they propose to remove are in the ecologically disturbed area of Unit 7 (attached NCA management plan). FOG believes that:
-   Long term management of disturbed areas in Units 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 should be addressed, including by planting indigenous grassy woodland species in order to: a) restore ecological connectivity, b) supress weeds, and c) reduce fire risk from exotic grasses and trees;
-   In particular, FOG advocates that the removed trees should be offset by restoring a woodland corridor between Units 3 and 5 across "The Gap" in Unit 4;
-   There are other exotic trees in ecologically significant units (1, 3, 5) that should be systematically removed, such as large Cootamundra Wattles, and a Willow in Haines Creek;
-   The provision oin the National Capital Plan for a site for a new Prime Ministerial Lodge should be relocated from ecologically significant units (1, 3, 5) to ecologically disturbed lands (Units 6 & 7), and the proposed tree management actions should be undertaken with this future possible use in mind.

4. At Yarramundi Reach the NCA has not proposed any urgent tree removal but DEWHA should consider requiring this. In the past a number of ornamental tree plantings have unwittingly impacted on the grasslands and should be reduced or removed. In particular we point out that the NCA's attached management plan:
- Identifies a small number of Willows planted in the endangered Poa wet grassland community (Unit 5) as a priority for removal; and
- Suggests longer term removal of inappropriate plantings in Units 6 and 7 and replacement of exotic vegetation along this section of the lake with indigenous species (Unit 7).

5. In our view DEWHA should discuss with the NCA more secure, longer term conservation management options for these two ecologically significant site on National Lands.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Pittock, on behalf of Friends of Grasslands