Natural Temperate Grassland

Blue skies with green grassland landscape 

Natural Temperate Grassland of the Southern Tablelands of NSW and the Australian Capital Territory (natural temperate grassland) is listed as an endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the ACT Nature Conservation Act 2014.

Since European settlement:

  • nationally, less than 1% of the original area of natural temperate grassland remains
  • in the ACT, approximately 5% of the original area of natural temperate grassland remains.

Over 1000 hectares of natural temperate grassland are protected in the following nature reserves:

  • Jerrabomberra East
  • Jerrabomberra West
  • Mulanggari
  • Kama
  • Gungaderra
  • Crace
  • Dunlop

Natural temperate grassland in the ACT includes the following listed threatened plants:

  • Ginninderra Peppercress (Lepidium ginninderrense)
  • Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides)
  • Small Purple Pea (Swainsona recta)

Natural temperate grassland in the ACT also provides critical habitat for the following animal species declared as threatened in the ACT under the ACT Nature Conservation Act 2014:

  • Grassland Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla)
  • Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar)
  • Golden Sun Moth (Synemon plana)
  • Perunga Grasshopper (Perunga ochracea)

For further information on natural temperate grassland see:

Grassland Enhancement Program

The ACT Grassland Enhancement Program is:

  • undertaking research into restoring natural disturbance regimes, primarily using fire - Burning for Biodiversity Trials
  • managing invasive weeds, in particular invasive grasses such as Chilean Needle Grass, African Lovegrass and Serrated Tussock
  • researching the habitat requirements of threatened grassland species
  • investigating techniques to replace exotic species with native species
  • improving community engagement and knowledge of the ACT’s natural temperate grassland.

The program is being implemented as a partnership between ACT Parks and Conservation Service, Greening Australia and ACT NRM, and is partly funded by the Australian Government National Landcare Programme.

Grassland Earless Dragon Captive Breeding Program

The ACT’s only captive population of Grassland Earless Dragons (GED) is currently held in the University of Canberra (UC). UC, in partnership with ACT Government’s Conservation Research (CR) Unit, has been undertaking research on breeding and release of GED in the ACT. A strong component of this research focuses on the potential impacts of climate change on GED, including environmental triggers for breeding and foraging.

The aims of this project are to:

  • further our understanding of GED captive breeding techniques
  • determine the breeding success of individuals released back to the wild using genetic techniques
  • provide guidance on how captive breeding might complement management of GED populations in the wild under climate change.

This project is a component of broader efforts at native grassland restoration and enhancement in the ACT. Actions are already being funded to improve grassland condition through managed habitat disturbance for native grassland species, including GED. These actions aim to enhance resilience of GED to climate change by providing higher quality habitat mosaics.

Delivery of this project will be undertaken between June 2015 and June 2016 through a partnership between the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate (EPD), UC and ACT Parks and Conservation Service (PCS).