Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 440
Macquarie ACT 2614
Supporting on-ground landcare in the ACT
While Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is not a Landcare/Parkcare group per se, it undertakes on-ground activities on a number of high conservation grassland and grassy woodland sites in the ACT, and has done so for many years. In addition it has visited a number of other Parkcare/Landcare areas and at times provided assistance with plant identification and so on. While FOG’s perspective might be a little different from the majority of Landcare groups, it is providing the following comments about support for on-ground landcare requested in your email of 9 March based on this experience of landcare activities around the ACT.
- Continuation and expansion of local NRM funding to enhance group collaborations. FOG’s participation in work on NCA lands (Yarramundi Reach and Stirling Park) and at section 128 (Yarralumla) has been greatly enhanced and participation energised by modest funding of this type supporting both FOG and the MCG. The end result has been an impressive multiplier effect that is amply documented in FOG’s records.
- Support for areas of ecological value that are not in the reserve system. FOG is very concerned about the areas of high conservation value that are not within the reserve network, being in parkland and corridors between houses and suburbs (sometimes but not always urban open space), roadsides, other ACT land (e.g. Hall Cemetery) and on leased land (e.g. University of Canberra) and Commonwealth land. Many of these have been reported by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment as being in very poor condition, approaching a critical state. Landcare involvement is non-existent in many of these areas, as there are no means to develop Parkcare/Landcare groups, although at sites such as Umbagong and the woodland at Garran, groups have established essentially independent of government. FOG has taken up care of several NCA sites – at Stirling Park, State Circle Woodland and Yarramundi Reach, and in partnership with MCG and the Buru Ngunnawal Corporation at the Territory site between Stirling Park and the Chinese Embassy. Such groups need support, insurance cover and recognition of their role, including insurance and probably training opportunities.
- Increased lobbying for control of weeds and pest animals. Landcare and FOG volunteers are making major contributions to control of pest plants and animals. However their efforts are insufficient to keep the worst weeds and rabbits in check. For example, thousands of hectares of the ACT are being invaded by African Lovegrass and Serrated Tussock. Control requires complementary efforts by ACT Government staff and contractors. The estimated funding required to control known weed infestations in the ACT is around $14 million per year by the FY15-16 budget for contractors is a mere $1.4 million.
- Increased lobbying for vehicle and recreational track maintenance. The hundreds of kilometres of dirt management vehicle, cycling and walking tracks on public lands in the ACT are often poorly drained and eroding. Not only does this erosion damage our vulnerable grassland reserves and parks in general, but the eroded sediment is a major contributor to the poor water quality of our waterways. While Landcarers/Parkcarers contribute to track maintenance in many ACT reserves, the extent of the work required necessitates greater work by ACT Government and contractors. Increased funding is required to accelerate effective track repair works.
18 March 2016