Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Phone: 02 62.. ....
National Capital Authority
GPO Box 373
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Dear Mr Rake,
Thank you for the opportunity to meet you on the 29th July and your subsequent summary letter of 10th August. We appreciate your invitation to comment on the management priorities for the Stirling Ridge and Yarramundi Reach sites, as proposed in the management plan prepared by Sarah Sharp this year. FOG strongly supports the NCA's adoption of the management plan as an essential and practical step to enhance management of these environmentally significant sites.
FOG substantially agrees with the management priorities proposed in the NCA plan and offers the following suggestions on how the NCA may advance the implementation with limited resources of those activities listed as most urgent.
AT ALL SITES
1. Weed control is particularly urgent, in order of the priority of the management units in Tables 2.2 and 3.3 of the plan. As discussed on 29th July we suggest exploring labour market program opportunities, such as Green Corps, to secure greater resources to undertake an initial, intensive effort over a year or more to reduce the current threat from woody and herbaceous weeds to a more manageable level.
2. Establishing a long term system with appropriate expertise to undertake regular management activities is urgent, especially for weeds control and mowing. This could involve establishing long term, performance-based agreements with contractors with appropriate environmental management expertise.
3. Fire management and ecological burning plans need to be developed and implemented. This should be undertaken in consultation with ACT Parks, Conservation and Lands personnel to ensure a consistent approach to management by fire across land tenures in all natural woodland and grassland areas.
4. Establish a monitoring program to track weed control and diversity of flora is needed to measure the success of management interventions.
5. Installing appropriate interpretive signs, while a secondary priority, would also help in our view to communicate the importance of the sites and emphasise that they are actively managed, to reduce accidental damage.
6. Weed invasion is aided by storm water draining onto the sites. While a secondary priority, we suggest planning works to control drainage problems, such as settling ponds along the road easements. It may be worth exploring the use of clean straw bales as a cheap and temporary solution until the opportunity arises to implement more permanent measures.
AT YARRAMUNDI REACH
1. Fencing the area off to prevent vehicle entry and define the site is vital in our view to prevent further damage. Removing pickets and old signs to make the site looked cared for would further reinforce the importance of the site.
2. FOG: proposes to concentrate on fine-scale removal of weeds in the best habitat units (1, 2 and 5). FOG can also replace star pickets across the site with ground level survey markers where these pickets mark significant reference points.
AT STIRLING RIDGE
1. We consider it important that the NCA has the existing maps of Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides) populations and Yellow Box – Red Gum Woodland overlain onto all other operational and reference maps. This would enable easier management of proposed actions that may impact sensitive areas, including actions such as fire track access and also recreational activities like orienteering. Ideally, this would maximise protection of units 1a, 3, 5 and 8 (Scrivener’s Hut).
2. FOG proposes to focus on herbaceous and woody weed control in units 1b, 3, 5 and 8, particularly round Rutidosis populations.
FoG notes that at both sites there are less urgent priorities but none the less valuable interventions that could quickly be implemented in the event that additional funds were available unexpectedly (for instance, towards the end of financial year), such as the construction of settling ponds and removal of mature non-indigenous trees at Yarramundi Reach.
It is also FOG’s view that it would be important to draft changes to the National Capital Plan to fully reserve the two sites for conservation of their natural heritage, even if the funds are not currently available to progress such changes. Such drafting would enable the amendments to be advanced less expensively when other changes are proposed to the Plan in future. Amending the Plan would confirm that the NCA and Federal Government recognize the ecological significance of these lands and are fully committed to protecting the sites from adverse development.
FOG greatly appreciates the NCA’s actions to enhance conservation of the grassy ecosystems on its lands. We look forward to further work with the NCA to implement these important management measures.
Friends of Grasslands
29 August 2009