Who we are and what we do
The biodiversity values and ecosystem function of natural grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia are recognised, valued, protected and enhanced. The resilience of grassy ecosystems is improved in the light of threats of climate change, impacts of weeds and pests and human impacts such as compaction, erosion and ground disturbance.
What is Friends of Grasslands?
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.
FOG's immediate focus is the Southern Tablelands of NSW and the ACT. FOG is also active in surrounding regions of NSW (e.g. southern rivers, western slopes and northern tablelands), and seeks to work cooperatively with others in south east Australia (e.g. basalt plains of south western Victoria, and northern plains of South Australia).
Protection and management of grassy ecosystems involves many sectors including government (federal, state/territory, local and regional, catchment agencies), research and education, organised community (FOG, Landcare and Parkcare groups, catchment groups and others), land managers (rural and conservation), and the general community.
Institutional arrangements relating to grassy ecosystems and their management are complex and include a broad range of legislation and related policy that covers: listing of threatened communities/species and recovery planning; reservation; strategic planning for management and investment; impact assessment; and weed management.
Resources available to support grassy ecosystem conservation vary over time, and within institutions and seasons.
Information (including maps and databases), and access to it, is improving.
Threats to grassy ecosystems include: clearing and development; agricultural intensification (i.e. grazing to cropping); weeds and pest species; climate change; and ignorance.
Many individuals, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations, cultural groups, government, educational and research organisations are working towards similar visions. FOG works closely with such groups and will continue to facilitate communication and resource sharing to achieve common goals.
FOG aims to:
- Facilitate access to existing data, systems and expertise, to improve knowledge and understanding of, and support for, grassy ecosystems by communities, industries and governments
- Assist in identifying threats to sites, and influence decisions relating to protection and management
- Facilitate improvement of management of grassy ecosystems on public and private land, including through better allocation of resources and integration of effort
- Focus on holistic approaches, and functioning landscapes and ecosystems
- Build the skills and participation of members to be an effective and sustainable group
- Assist in restoring grassy ecosystems through active intervention
- Encourage use of grassy ecosystem species in horticulture and landscaping.
- Incorporate and encourage sharing and implementation of traditional land management practices
- Facilitate new and innovative ways to protect and enhance native grassy ecosystems within the fabric of human endeavours, recognising and acknowledging values and requirements of human beings at the same time as recognising the rights of non-human life to exist and persist
- Work closely with a range of stakeholders to achieve the above aims.
Areas of activity
Develop and implement activities to improve knowledge and understanding of grassy ecosystems, through informing and enriching FOG members, the wider community, other conservation organisations and governments.
1.1 Develop and distribute bimonthly newsletters and regular e-Bulletins.
1.2 Manage an up-to-date website.
1.3 Run field/site/property visits and surveys.
1.4 Make presentations and run workshops.
1.5 Develop and use educational and information resources.
1.6 Assist agencies, other groups and industry to develop their understanding and actively promote conservation of natural grassy ecosystems.
1.7 Use the media.
2. Hands-on conservation
Support land manager and group participation in practical management, to protect and re-establish grassy ecosystems; work as an adjunct to such action by agencies and the private sector.
2.1 Promote development and implementation of site operational guidelines.
2.2 Run restoration programs at selected sites (currently, Stirling Park, Scrivener's Hut, Yarramundi Reach, Hall Cemetery and Old Cooma Common Grassland Reserve) and help groups undertake restoration activities in other sites.
2.3 Assist other groups and individuals with management planning and on-ground implementation.
Provide input to advocate for implementation of adequate and appropriate legislative, policy, planning and implementation measures to protect grassy ecosystems; and identify laws, policies, planning and implementation processes detrimental to grassy ecosystems.
3.1 Monitor measures proposed by, or taken by, governments and others, and seek to ensure such measures are consistent with FOG's vision and aims.
3.2 Identify policies which would further FOG's vision and aims, and work to achieve their application by both the public and private sectors.
3.3 Seek to change, wherever necessary, the values and behaviours of those who have powers relevant to the wellbeing of grassy ecosystems, and those who influence such persons/organisations.
3.4 Respond to requests for advice and input on matters of public policy.
3.5 Work with agencies and other volunteer and community groups to achieve mutual aims.
Cooperate with relevant organisations (e.g. environmental, planning, educational, and scientific) to actively participate in their work to better understand grassy ecosystems.
4.1 Promote research that aims to identify and understand the values of grassy ecosystems and causes of the decline of grassy ecosystems, and how to address such decline (including through recovery planning/strategies).
4.2 Maintain and/or seek scientific expertise/methods in other areas of activity.
FOG develops and adheres to policies on key issues.
FOG seeks to:
- Promote membership to include individuals and organisations with a range of interests, and network with related organisations
- Operate using principles of mutual respect, open communication, membership participation and skill development, human diversity, non-discrimination and non-harassment
- Work in areas and on issues identified as priorities, and undertake regular reviews of priorities and resources.
FOG operates via a Committee, with:
- Office holders (President, Vice Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Officer)
- Delegation of responsible officers (e.g. for administration, preparation of newsletter/ e‑Bulletin, correspondence, membership, website)
- Sub-committees (e.g. activities, advocacy, education and communication, grants), and
- Designated representatives on committees of network groups, government or other organisations as relevant.