Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 440
Macquarie ACT 2614
Mr Andrew Barr, MLA
Treasury and Economic Development Directorate
Dear Mr Barr
2017-18 ACT budget consultation
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate 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 members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
We submit the following points to be considered in relation to the 2017-18 ACT budget, and appreciate the opportunity to provide input to the budget.
1. Long term conservation of our grassy ecosystems remains a major concern of FOG and, in our view, warrants a high priority. To illustrate why, earlier this year the Commonwealth listed Natural Temperate Grassland of the South Eastern Highlands as critically endangered, replacing the previous listing of endangered. This indicates that, despite the work being undertaken to date, this major ecological community is coming closer to becoming extinct. The high quality Natural Temperate Grassland (NTG) areas in the ACT are even more important than previously, and require adequate, strategic and long-term guaranteed funding for their conservation into the future.
2. The level of resourcing for weed control remains an ongoing concern for FOG. This is a difficult issue that needs prevention strategies in place as well as control of outbreaks and existing weeds, and ongoing maintenance in treated areas. FOG acknowledges the resources the government has already put into this area. However, it is clear that in some areas of the ACT weed control efforts are insufficient to maintain conservation values. This is a particular issue following the wet spring that has just occurred, as this has encouraged weed growth, especially of St Johnís Wort and annual grasses. While weed control can be expensive, if weeds are left unchecked the problem is even worse in following years and costs of weed control even greater. For this reason, FOG argues that increasing the weed budget (including ensuring adequate personnel for dealing with the weeds) across the ACT to increase the effectiveness of current weed control will pay dividends in the future. It will also aid in fulfilling the Governmentís duty of care in terms of ensuring that this threatened ecosystem is still there for future generations.
3. A related issue is that of pests such as rabbits, foxes and cats. Again, if left unchecked, this problem becomes much worse in subsequent years and is best dealt with by a modest increase in funding now rather than needing a major injection of funding in the future.
14 December 2016