Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Lindsay Pryor National Arboretum Renewal Project
National Capital Authority
GPO Box 373
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Dear Mr Rake
Lindsay Pryor National Arboretum Renewal Project
FOG welcomes the NCA’s timely efforts to rejuvenate and adapt management of the Lindsay Pryor National Arboretum half of its national lands at Yarramundi Reach, and believe that considerable benefits for conservation, education and recreation can occur with a modest investment.
As the regions’ leading community organisation concerned with conservation of endangered grassy ecosystems, FOG has, in this submission, highlighted the opportunities for the NCA to integrate development and management of the Arboretum with the neighboring temperate grassland site to add diversity to the values of these lands while reducing management costs. In partnership with the NCA, FOG undertakes volunteer work to help conserve the Yarramundi Reach grassland. We make the following points.
1. Rezoning the land at Yarramundi Reach
Rezoning the land at Yarramundi Reach (Arboretum and grassland) to a more secure tenure under the National Capital Plan is required to better reflect the natural, educational and recreational values of the site. The land is currently zoned National Capital Use, and is still tagged for possible museum development, as proposed in 2009 by the outgoing director of the National Museum of Australia. This means that any national institution could be built there, which would be inappropriate given the current values and planned investment. We ask that the lands be rezoned as Nature Conservation Area (as Jerrabomberra wetlands is currently designated) or a similar, more protected tenure.
2. Integrating site management
Further, we suggest that the management of the current grassland and Arboretum be integrated to create a more diverse and cohesive botanical landscape, a larger site that ultimately links the National Arboretum through the Lindsay Prior Arboretum to Black Mountain Nature Reserve and the Australian National Botanical Gardens through these core national lands. In practical terms this would mean management of the grasslands in conjunction with the Arboretum, including weed control, fire management, visitor use and tree plantings. The two sites should have consistent signage interpreting the range of values of these lands. Grassland management should continue to be directed by the NCA’s site management plan of 2009. Managing the trees planted around the grassland site would offer advantages, including:
a) Removing the decrepit stands of exotic trees around the lake shore of the grasslands, to enhance the views from the Arboretum, or where appropriate replanting with indigenous riparian species (and so diversifying the Arboretum’s collection);
b) Providing opportunities for offset planting in the Arboretum for the removal of ornamental trees inappropriately planted in or invading the grasslands, such as the Willows planted in the endangered Wet Poa grassland community in the drainage line.
3. Design concepts
FOG strongly supports design concept 1 for two reasons:
a) The more restricted vehicular access offers additional benefits for preventing illegal vehicle access onto both the Arboretum and the grassland; and
b) Locating the proposed Geological Garden on the eastern border adjacent to the native grassland provides an opportunity to link the two sites with sympathetic, lower and more open plantings of indigenous grassland and woodland species on this area.
4. Arboretum plantings along the grassland boundary fence
FOG strongly urges the NCA to plant indigenous species with a lower height along the grassland boundary fence (DC1, area 11 and DC2, area 14), such as Black Cypress (Callitris) which would tie the windbreak into the naturally regenerating trees on the NW corner of the grassland, or another local species. This is important for two reasons:
a) preventing excessive shading of the grasslands from its western boundary, and
b) providing a buffer against spread of invasive exotic trees species.
5. NCA land between Lady Denman Drive and Tuggeranong Parkway
We ask that all this land be managed as part of the Arboretum. It should first be assessed for its native vegetation values, which may be high, and managed appropriately as woodland rather than automatically planted with exotic species. Importantly, we ask that priority be given to removing weeds such as Cootamundra Wattle from this land, to prevent re-infestation of the down-slope Arboretum and grassland. We also ask that development of the Arboretum include construction of sediment traps on drainage lines under Lady Denman Drive and the Tuggeranong Parkway to prevent weed seed and silt washing onto the Arboretum and the grassland. FOG strongly supports the proposed pedestrian link to the National Arboretum (DC2, proposal 5), but would like to see it added to the design FOG favors, i.e. DC1. FOG notes the potential for this visitor access to link thematically the grasslands to the indigenous plantings in the STEP (Southern Tablelands Ecosystem Project) plantings in the National Arboretum with appropriate interpreptive materials for people interested the indigenous flora of our region.
6. Controlling vehicle access
The grasslands are being badly damaged by off-road drivers coming in from the Arboretum – mainly to fish. New fences have been cut, illustrating the need for robust measures to constrain vehicle access to both the Arboretum and the grassland. FOG questions whether stronger regulatory and enforcement measures are required to control illegal, off-road driving on these national lands. Further, to counter the reduced vehicle access for fishing and to increase recreational amenity, we suggest continuing a walking, cycle and fishing access path around the disturbed lake shore and on the vehicle path on the southern end of the grassland site. This should involve construction of fishing and viewing platforms on the lake shore, consistent with removing the decrepit stands of exotic trees on the grassland site as described above.
Thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the development of the Lindsay Pryor National Arboretum. FOG remains committed to assisting the NCA to maintain the significant natural values of this site and would welcome opportunities to discuss implementation of the ideas in this submission further. Please contact Naarilla Hirsch on 6288 2413 if you wish to do so.
14 May 2010