Victorian Volcanic Plains Conservation Management Network

Raising awareness about the value and use of native grasslands, seasonal wetlands, grassy woodlands & other ecosystems on the Victorian Volcanic Plains

National Eucalypt Day

Here are some photos from trees on the VVP to help celebrate the beauty and habitat value of eucalypts

New plants are not always weeds

What are your plant identification skills like? Sometimes there are plants that look different and so your first  thought is that it is a weed. Lawrencia spicata, Salt Lawrencia may look like a weed, but it is a rare native plant often associated with salt marshes. These photos were taken near the Ross Bridge Flora Reserve, south of Ararat. The reserve and roadside is mapped as Western Plains Basalt Grassland. Thanks  to Frank Carland for supplying the photos.

Salt Lawrencia is a perennial herb that has  tall cylindrical flower spikes with white or yellow flowers. The leaves are distinctive and have a long stalk (petiole) and it grows from a rosette.  Vicflora has some close up images

VVP Linear Reserves Project

The Victorian Volcanic Plain Linear Reserves Project continues to roll along and during the spring you may have seen contractors out again on the roadsides, spraying weeds. Burning every few years by brigades, has kept the native vegetation on many roadsides in good condition but in some cases when burning has not been carried out for a while the weeds have taken off. One of this  project’s aims is to improve the quality of our remnant grasslands through careful targeting of high threat weeds on priority road and rail reserves. It builds on the ongoing strategic work done by the CFA burning program, by reducing weeds such as phalaris.

How do we know if this weed control works? Over the last 2 years  Arthur Rylah Institute has closely monitored several of the grassland sites and reports in the latest ARI enews, that ‘the extent of weeds has been successfully reduced, without adversely affecting native species’. See this link for a brief report 

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A plan for the Plains-wanderer

Last Tuesday, Trust for Nature, the Northern Plains Conservation Management Network and North Central CMA, hosted a native grassland field day near Turrumberry. The focus was on the critically endangered bird, the Plains-wanderer, Pedionomus torquatus. This bird is in a family all on its own and has very particular habitat requirements. Sightings on the Victorian Volcanic Plains near Melbourne are very rare and they are found mostly on the Northern Plains of Victoria and the New South Wales Riverina.

Management of native grassland on the red soils is critical for the Plains-wanderer and assisting land managers in what to look for and how to measure the biomass level is very important. When the grass becomes too dense, the birds disappear, so it is better to graze grasslands with high numbers of stock for short periods rather than have less stock for longer periods. How much is too much, that is the question. Continue reading

A walk on the wild side

Werribee Blue Box

Werribee Blue Box

On Sunday, a walk was organised by the City of Wyndham and Parks Victoria (PV) to visit part of the Western Grassland Reserve, Wild Dog Gully. This was the first of what will be regular walks, with the aim of building community interest and understanding of the various reserves.

If you want to know some of the background of the reserves, check out this link which also has a map. The Western Grassland Reserves will cover two areas of land outside the Urban Growth Boundary south-east of Melton and west of Werribee, that connect the You Yangs area to the Werribee River across the volcanic plains. Continue reading

Saving native orchids through propagation

Sunshine Diuris

Sunshine Diuris

Recently I joined a Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group on a bus trip on a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, where the Orchid Conservation Program is housed. Late in 2014 the Orchid Conservation Program led by Dr Noushka Reiter and based in Horsham, was moved to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne. This site now has Victoria’s largest center for the conservation of rare and threatened orchids and the program is responsible for the propagation and re-introduction of some of south-eastern Australia’s most threatened orchids. Continue reading