Native grassland conservation and management book launched

May 15 / 158

L-R: John Morgan, Nick Williams, Adrian Marshall at the launch of Land of Sweeping Plains
L-R: John Morgan, Nick Williams, Adrian Marshall at the launch of Land of Sweeping Plains

 

A new book aims to give land managers, farmers, conservationists, urban planners and designers the knowledge and tools to help save the neglected native grasslands of south-eastern Australia. 

 

Land of Sweeping Plains: Managing and restoring the native grasslands of south-eastern Australia was co-edited by Dr Nick Williams and Adrian Marshall from the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at Burnley Campus, along with Dr John Morgan from La Trobe University. 

 

Funded by the Myer Foundation, the book was officially launched on May 7 by Professor Kate Auty, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow and former Victorian Government Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, in front of 100 guests at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

 

The richly illustrated book describes how native grasslands in south-eastern Australia have been decimated since European arrival, along with native animals that rely on these habitats for their survival, such as the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, the Golden Sun Moth and the Striped Legless Lizard.

 

But there is hope, with increasing awareness of the importance of these habitats, greater efforts to conserve and expand the remaining grasslands, and a growing appreciation of the beauty and utility of native grassland species in urban settings.

 

Dr Williams said the book was aimed at a broad audience, from academics to land managers to the general public.

 

“We wanted to make it very accessible and communicate to people the beauty of native grasslands but also the complexity of management,” Dr Williams said.

 

The book brings together the latest scientific research in grassland ecology and management, and includes many stories from people working in grassland conservation. Dr Williams said the editors felt it was important to include the experience and knowledge of the people working in grassland conservation and management.

 

“The aim was to capture the state of knowledge in science but also the state of knowledge inside people’s heads,” Dr Williams said.

 

Other Faculty of Science academics contributing to the book included Associate Professor Kathryn Williams, Dr Karen Reid and John Delpratt. Representatives from government and non-government groups like Parks Victoria, the Merri Creek Management Committee, Trust for Nature and Greening Australia also contributed.

 

Co-editor Adrian Marshall said one aspect of grassland management often overlooked was the human element. 

 

“We have to engage with people, show them the small scale, intricate beauty of grasslands as well as the sweeping plains,” he said.

 

“And we have to really work to integrate grassland remnants into the urban fabric.”

 

“Without people, our grasslands are lost.”

 

Land of Sweeping Plains: Managing and restoring the native grasslands of south-eastern Australia is available from CSIRO Publishing.

 

Story by Daryl Holland

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