Lowland temperate native grasslands and grassy woodlands once covered a third of Victoria, occupying an area of around 7 million ha.
Since European settlement, native grasslands have been modified by agriculture and urban land use, with less than 1% remaining in the Victorian Volcanic Plains (VVP) bioregion. Of this, very little remains in original condition. Many of the plants and animals that depended on this ecosystem are now either extinct or highly threatened with extinction.
This makes these remnant areas highly valuable in terms of the health of the environment and sustainability of the land. By enhancing and/or protecting the remaining remnant vegetation the opportunity is created for native plants and animals to co-exist in the farming landscape to improve their capacity to find habitat and thrive.
Two nationally threatened ecological communities that occur on the VVP are the target of CMA funding. More specifically, Glenelg Hopkins CMA is targeting the following Endangered Vegetation Communities:
- (132) Plains Grassland
- (654) Creekline Tussock Grassland
(55) Plains Grassy Woodland
- (651) Plains Swampy Woodland
(649) Stony Knoll Shrubland (pockets within or next to the woodland)
- (897) Plains grassland/Plains Grassy Woodland Mosaic
Native pastures which are the focus of CMA funding are pastures that have greater than 25% native perennial cover. Native grasses are part of the natural landscape and are well adapted to local soil type/conditions, climate, water stress and high disease resistance. There is great opportunity for native grasses to provide the potential for year- round green feed requirements. This is due to native grass species, such as warm season and cool season grasses, having growth periods at different times of the year.
Benefits of grazing native pastures:
- high persistence
- high nutritive characteristics (similar to introduced pasture species)
- cope well withll extremes of climate conditions
- dense tillering helps prevent soil erosion and nutrient runoff.
- assists with dryland salinity recharge control due to summer activity, perenniality and reducing recharge.
- low input grazing system reducing reduces the dependence on finite resource inputs.
- assists integrated pest management and native biodiversity enhancement.
- provides refuge paddock areas for stock during high risk periods i.e. ryegrass staggers