Restoring native grassland with Canberra Airport

We’ve been working with Canberra Airport for the past three years, trialling methods for restoring a diversity of local grassland species. Read on to find out how we’re getting on.

Less than 5% of the original extent of native grassland communities remains intact in the Capital Region region, with consequences for the unique fauna and flora that live in and use the grassland ecosystems. As a result, natural temperate grasslands are listed as an Endangered Ecological Community under Australian, NSW and ACT Government acts.

This makes it very important for us to work out the best ways to restore these ecosystems in places where they have been degraded, and thus add to the small areas that remain.

Our grassland restoration trials have included the use of direct seeding. Direct seeding is of particular interest, as it may be a way of quickly and cost effectively reintroducing these important grassland plants.

We direct seeded in May 2012, with great results particularly for the daisies and lilies. Many of the daisies went on to flower that spring and summer, however the lilies died back. It turns out the lilies have a fascinating strategy of only appearing above the ground for 3 or 4 months during the winter and early spring.  As soon as conditions get dry, down they go for another year.

Lessons learnt: direct seeding works – even when it appears not to!