Grassy Woodland Restoration

Native Grassy Woodland Restoration

Kalbar proposes to restore 200 hectares of species-rich native grassy woodland at the Fingerboards site.

This will be the single largest restoration of this type undertaken in Victoria, and probably Australia, creating a major ecological asset for the region.

The importance of native grassy communities

Temperate native grasslands and grassy woodlands typically occurred across what are now arable regions of Australia (~500 mm annual rainfall).

At the ground level high quality native grassy communities are dominated by diverse arrays of species including warm and cool season growing grasses (such as Kangaroo and Wallaby Grass) and numerous wildflower species (including daisies, lilies and orchids) as well as smaller numbers of sub-shrubs. In grassy woodlands, there is also a woody component represented by large open-spreading widely spaced trees (predominantly eucalypts such as red gum).

However, due to human impacts there is an urgent need to restore native grassy communities. Since European settlement they have been reduced to a tiny fraction of their original range and quality, and most now occur as small and fragmented remnants. Most landscapes where they originally existed are now dominated by introduced pasture grasses and broadleaf weeds.

Restoring native grassy communities

Many factors must be addressed when restoring grassy communities. Among the most important for success are:

  1. Access to suitable amounts, range and quality of seed
    Because wild communities are rare and precious, commercial seed supply is very limited and expensive (and often of variable quality). Importantly, small amounts of wild seed from a range of species can be cultivated and grown as seed crops in Seed Production Areas (SPAs) to produce larger volumes of high quality seed for restoration.
  2. Reducing weed competition to sown natives
    Weeds are a major barrier to grassy restoration. In fertilised agricultural landscapes Australian plants (which have evolved on lower nutrient soils), are at a disadvantage to nutrient loving pasture grasses and weeds. Topsoil removal (where a shallow slice of nutrient laden topsoil is removed) has been used with great effect to create conditions where natives can be successfully established by seed.
  3. Appropriate knowledge and technology
    Considerable research has been conducted in south east Australia over recent decades and this has shed light on several techniques (eg topsoil removal) and approaches (eg SPAs) that have improved restoration success.

Kalbar is a business member of the Society for Ecological Restoration and the Australasian Network for Plant Conservation and aims to achieve best practice in Grassy Community restoration.

Native grass crops established at Kalbar’s Seed Production Area near Bengworden
Seeding onto a restoration site prepared by topsoil removal
Restored wildflower grassland on a roadside in western Victoria
Restored open grassy woodland on farmland in western Victoria