Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Strategic Assessment – Molonglo and
Planning Services Branch
ACT Planning and Land Authority
GPO Box 1908
Canberra ACT 2601
Strategic Approvals West Section
Approvals and Wildlife Division
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
GPO Box 787
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Molonglo Valley Plan for Protection of Matters of National Environmental
Framework and Draft Strategic Assessment
On 22 April 2010 Friends of Grasslands (FOG) made a submission to you on the Molonglo Valley Plan for Protection of Matters of National Environmental Significance: Framework and Draft Strategic Assessment, in which we raised a number of issues. Since making that submission, a well-informed ecologist has had the opportunity to visit a couple of the grassy woodland sites in the Molonglo Valley (not something we were able to do at the time of preparing our initial submission), and raised an issue with FOG as a result of this visit. Consequently, FOG would like to submit an addendum to its previous submission.
The ecologist’s concerns stem from the timing of the environmental assessment (understood to have been December 2008 and early 2009) and the effect of recent grazing on the assessment results. Because the assessment was undertaken very late in the season, a number of ephemeral plant species may not have been detected by the survey. This may have been compounded by recent grazing pressure at some sites. Because the definition of an area as endangered grassy box-gum woodland includes detection of at least 12 non-grass native species, absence of some ephemeral plant species may have led to areas being assessed as lower quality than they actually are. The particular area of concern in this regard is the woodland area between blocks J and N and to the north of the arboretum (although possibly the same applies to other areas of the development footprint). The ecologist, on his recent visit to the woodland east of block J observed that this area, while currently over-grazed, retains a good quality native understorey and mature woodland trees. His view was that, if these box-gum woodlands were surveyed at a different time of the year following lower grazing pressure, additional native plant species would be detected and the area to the east of patch J may satisfy the definition for endangered box-gum woodland. For this reason, FOG suggests that the woodland area to the east of patch J be added to patch J, and both be added to the Canberra International Arboretum. Alternatively, development and development approvals of this area could be delayed until they can be re-assessed earlier in the growing season and under more favourable grazing pressure.
As I understand the Framework and Draft Strategic Assessment are already with the Commonwealth for consideration, I have taken the liberty of copying this letter to the appropriate area within the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
for Geoff Robertson
25 June 2010