Friends of Grasslands

supporting native grassy ecosystems

 

PO Box 987

Civic Square ACT 2608

Phone: 02 62.. ....

 

 

Jerrabomberra Wetlands Board of Management and ACT Government Territory and Municipal Services Directorate
email: communityengagement@act.gov.au

 

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Jerrabomberra Wetlands draft master plan

 

Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of indigenous 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.

 

While FOG’s area of interest is grassland and grassy woodland communities, it has had an interest in the Jerrabomberra Wetlands project for some time. In particular, FOG is interested in grassland areas within the reserve and their potential impacts on nearby grasslands in the Jerrabomberra and Majura Valleys. From this perspective, FOG has some comments on the draft master plan for the Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve.

 

Figure 6 is misleading in that it implies that the only areas of environmental importance are those highlighted on the map. In fact, there are significant areas of high conservation natural temperate grassland (NTG) in Majura and Jerrabomberra valleys (to the east and north of the Wetlands), and some small but important grassland areas in Barton (to the south of the Wetlands). Either these areas should be shown on the map, or the map labelled to indicate that it represents “regional woodland connectivity” (and excludes grassland connectivity). In addition, Callum Brae Nature Reserve should be labelled in the same way all the other nature reserves are on this map.

 

The draft master plan mentions that the interface zone with the planned East Lake development has been placed within the reserve, due to uncertainty about what is proposed for the adjoining area of East Lake. FOG’s view is that this interface zone should be within East Lake and not impinge on the nature reserve. In particular, the inner asset zone for bushfire management should be within East Lake and not in the nature reserve, since management for bushfires impact on conservation values. If the inner asset zone were in East Lake, it would provide space for other aspects of the interface zone (e.g. those provided in Figure 12) to be sited outside the reserve but still provide views of the reserve.

 

FOG supports the visitor’s information centre being located on the eastern edge of the reserve. Placement of the centre on the East Lake edge would encourage residents to use the reserve as a general recreation facility rather than the low intensity natural recreation area that is intended in this master plan.

 

There is mention of native grassland plantings. The recommended native plants list in Appendix E contains a number of native grasses and sedges, but few grassland forbs species. As well as Chrysocephalum species, FOG suggests adding to the list species such as Bulbine bulbosa, Craspedia variabilis Geranium solanderi, Goodenia pinnatifida, Leucochrysum albicans, Rhodanthe anthemoides, Vittadinia species and Wahlenbergia communis While not specifically bird-attracting, these plants would add to both the attractiveness and diversity of the grassland plantings and be useful insect attractors.

 

FOG also suggests that throughout the wetlands, priority be given to species from the Canberra region when selecting plants. Exotic grassland areas to the immediate north could be given an environmentally valuable place in the Master Plan as sites for regeneration with native grasses and forbs, even if this is assigned only low priority and long time frame. No doubt the land management in these regions will be a major challenge with balance between fuel-load control, grazing and replanting but the way forward deserves to be mapped out from the very beginning.

 

FOG strongly supports eradication of declared weed species and control of dominant weeds, as outlined in section 4.3. Given the presence of high conservation NTG nearby, it is essential that weeds such as serrated tussock and African love grass are eliminated from the reserve, so that they do not spread from here into these high quality areas. A process for resourcing a long term weed strategy is essential. The master plan should give some indication of where continuing resources for weed control are coming from, as insufficient resources for this activity is a problem right across the ACT.

 

Given the proximity of the proposed East Lake development to the reserve, FOG supports the suggested cat containment policy in this development.

 

The master plan makes mention of a staffed visitors centre. While it may be too early to discuss content of material to be presented by this visitors centre, FOG asks that consideration be given to the inclusion of material on grasslands and grassy woodlands .Consideration should also be given to highlighting links between cultivated grassland areas or wet area grasslands within the reserve, and the highly significant NTG areas to the east and north of the Wetlands.

 

Sincerely yours

 

 

 

 

John Fitz Gerald

President

 

7 September 2012