In their non-disturbed state native grasslands and grassy woodlands are magnificent, and vibrant parts of Australia’s biological tapestry. Once covering vast tracts of our continent’s south east and south west, plains grassland and grassy woodland are now among our most vulnerable and endangered habitats. To help conserve, restore and maintain a diverse range of threatened native groundcover species we have spent more than a decade researching them and developing innovative techniques.
The groundlayer forms a critical part of our Australian landscapes, constituting the bulk of plant diversity and providing a crucial source of food and shelter for animals and birds.
In most parts of regional and urban Australia however, this critical layer of vegetation has been lost. In the small patches that have survived, remaining plants find it difficult to outcompete introduced weeds and re-establish themselves.
To meet the challenge we are developing innovative, scientifically tested revegetation techniques to bring a diverse range of threatened native groundcover species back to landscapes across Australia including the Victorian Volcanic Plains, Gippsland, Western Sydney, southern New South Wales and the Tasmanian midlands.
From early small-scale research collaborations, our Grassy Groundcover Restoration projects are now being run as part of much larger whole-of-landscape restoration work. Throughout south-east Australia, we are transforming intensively farmed agricultural land and semi-urban landscapes into functional, resilient and attractive native grasslands.
As part of the project, we have developed partnerships with several universities, as well as government and non-government organisations, to further our grassy groundcover research.
To provide the critical grass and wildflowers seed required for our onground work, we have developed Seed Production Areas (SPA) in several locations. Our 6ha Cumberland SPA on the grounds of Western Sydney University, is one of the largest of its kind in Australia and produces significant quantities of seed which are being used to progressively restore and reconnect the grassy woodlands of the Cumberland Plains.
In Canberra, our Natural Temperate Grasslands SPA fills a niche for rare, endangered or hard to collect species for the southern tablelands of NSW. It is providing seed of over 20 species to complement field-collected seed for grassland and grassy woodland restoration projects.
Now approaching 100 restored sites across bare fields, along roadsides and on ex-agricultural land, our Grassy Groundcover Project has received numerous awards including UN Environment award, Society for Ecological Restoration International restoration innovation award and Earth Watch International citizen science award. Some of these restored landscapes are of such high ecological quality that they are eligible for protection under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
We continue to expand the project into new regions and to build capacity for others to undertake grassland restoration in their own areas.
To reverse the decline of the critically endangered grasslands of the Victorian Volcanic Plains, we are working with landholders and partners to restore this unique and diverse landscape.
In Western Sydney’s Cumberland Plains, Greening Australia is working with government agencies, universities, community groups, corporations and private organisations on large-scale projects to restore significant areas of native grasslands and grassy woodlands.
To restore the diverse environment of the Howard Sand Plains, we are working to create and protect its unique habitat and wildlife, and manage threats to their survival.
Jess credits growing up on a farm involved in Landcare with inspiring her interest in a career in natural resource management (NRM). She spent some time working as a technical lab assistant with the Department of Agriculture, and then went on to do a degree in NRM. Jess started with Greening Australia in 2005 as a Scientific Research and Extension Officer and has held roles as Senior Ecologist and now Senior Program Officer.
Fascinated by the environment from a young age, Graham has worked with Greening Australia for more than 10 years. After studying environmental science and resource management, he completed his honours degree which focused on the relationship between sheep and trees on farms. On graduating he was employed by Greening Australia, and today works as our Land and Restoration Lead in the ACT and NSW.