Recovery of the Northern Plains Grassland Community – an overview Conference Paper uri icon

abstract

  • The grasslands of the northern plains of Victoria have long been recognised to be among the most threatened and poorly-reserved ecosystems in Victoria and Australia with only an estimated 3.8% remaining. As the protected area network (PAN) has greatly expanded in the last decade, there has been a commensurate loss of unprotected grasslands due to legal and illegal clearing. Whether or not the PAN continues to grow, there is now a significant on-going conservation management liability that must be underpinned by an improved understanding of ecosystem function and the role of disturbance. Some encouraging progress has been made by recent research. For instance, only partial recovery from cultivation is possible with long (cultivation) resting and that further improvement requires intervention to overcome the limits in seed dispersal of key functional groups. And although more has been learnt about how patterns in productivity/species-richness interactions can be managed/influenced by biomass manipulation, the use of stock grazing as a sustainable conservation management tool has still not been demonstrated. The interim regime of ‘status quo’ (stock) management persists despite the fact that it has failed to: (a) differentiate itself from standard pastoral practices, and (b) define the pathway to discovering better alternatives. A new technical advisory group has been established to oversee recovery strategy and has chosen the development of a ‘conceptual model of how the system works’, as a key priority. A further priority will be to pursue the renomination of the community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 following the recent publication of research suggesting these grasslands are naturally treeless, floristically unique and geographically confined to the southern Riverina.

publication date

  • 2010