‘From the ground up’
A workshop on the
conservation and rehabilitation of grassy ecosystems of the ACT and region
Canberra, 28-29 November 2006
This report is extracted from an
article published in Australasian Plant Conservation 15(3).
This workshop focused on the
conservation management and rehabilitation of Natural Temperate Grasslands and
Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands, listed as endangered and critically endangered
respectively under the EPBC Act.
Including presenters and volunteer
helpers, 86 people participated in this workshop, from as far away as Adelaide,
Armidale, Lismore and Victoria. Presenters were largely local specialists but
Paul Gibson Roy (an ANPC Committee member) came from Melbourne and Peter McGee
came from Sydney. Topics covered landuse history and management strategies,
rehabilitation planning, rapid soil health assessment (Landscape Function
Analysis), soil microbes in grassland rehabilitation, conservation genetics,
guidelines for seed collection, manipulating management such as grazing, fire
and slashing, monitoring and adaptive management, and the role of volunteers.
Case studies were on re-establishing complex grasslands in Victoria by direct
seeding and grassland management for endangered fauna protection in Kuma Nature
Reserve in the Monaro region of southern NSW.
Field activities focused on
trialling components of the Grassy Ecosystems Management Kit produced by
local grasslands specialists, most of whom were involved in this workshop. Sarah
Sharp, of the ACT Government’s Parks, Conservation and Lands group, was a key
organiser of the field program, aided by the energetic contribution of the other
We visited Little Mulligan’s Flat
and the Justice Robert Hope Reserve. At each site, the group broke into four
smaller groups and rotated around four activities. In addition to the Management
Kit activities, David Tongway demonstrated his Landscape Function Analysis
technique, a highly effective method of assessing soil health. He also
demonstrated a new technique for assessing drainage line erosion risk and
The field day was an increasingly
typical Canberra spring day: hot, dry and windy. Fortunately the woodland trees
provided enough shade to keep the group happily working through all the
The attendance of three community
volunteers at the workshop was sponsored by Natural Temperate Grasslands
Recovery Team, while five were funded by Department of Environment and Heritage
This workshop was partly funded by
an ACT Environment Grant and Department of Environment and Heritage sponsorship.
Feedback and sponsorship
"This workshop has been invaluable
to me as a landholder and non-scientist. Very good communication of complex
ideas. Will help me to understand my property and to work systematically towards
a management plan. Thanks."
(Private landholder and participant in Canberra Grassy Ecosystems workshop).
Feedback from the workshop was very
positive, though the evaluation forms have yet to be fully analysed. 56.5% of
the Grasslands registrants returned their
evaluation forms. The participant
quote above was just one of the enthusiastic responses we received. Some
feedback also suggests other ideas and topics, though the two-day format clearly
cannot encompass all desires.
Sponsorship to assist the
attendance of community volunteers, such as we achieved at the workshop, will be
sought for future ANPC workshops. While our workshops provide a very generous
discount for volunteers, students and pensioners, some still cannot afford to
attend. This sponsorship was designed to target volunteer workers who would
benefit from the workshop, contribute to it and transfer their new skills to
others in their rehabilitation project. This sponsorship increases the ANPC’s
reach, particularly to local landholders.
Without the specialist presenters,
who gave their time freely and enthusiastically, there would be no workshop. The
same is true of the registrants who bring to the workshop their experience,
enthusiasm and willingness to learn and to share. A huge thanks goes to all
those who participated in developing the workshop and turning it into reality.
ANPC Project Manager