Member Field Trip: VISIT A CRITICALLY ENDANGERED TEMPERATE GRASSLAND, 9.30 - 11.30am, 9 April 2021
Natural temperate grassland is a critically endangered ecological community that occurs in Canberra and our surrounding region.
In pre-European times, the grassland community supported the Indigenous peoples for thousands of years, providing valuable food, fibre and medicine plants. Some of these, we now know, were in a state of domestication. The grasslands were managed by First Nations peoples by carefully applied burning regimes, to facilitate hunting of game, including Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Emus, and many other mammals and birds, some of which are now regionally extinct. When Europeans occupied the lands, the rich grasslands initially supported their flocks and herds - Australia rode on the sheep's back, and those sheep fed exclusively on the native grasses and wildflowers of the wide sweeping plains. Generations later, and now, those grasslands are but tiny fragments of what once was. They've been built on by our towns and cities, suburbs and estates. They've been turned into exotic pastures crowded with foreign grasses and clovers, fertilised beyond recognition, and ploughed and cropped to feed our burgeoning population and foreign trade needs.
Canberra, however, is fortunate, because we still have remnants of this once-dominant vegetation type. There are reserves in our city where we can still enjoy seeing waving golden fields of Tall Spear-grass, and watch as Kangaroo Grass turns from-lime green to russet, to straw-bleach, as the seasons change. We can enjoy flowery fields of Creamy Candles, Blue Devils, Chocolate-lilies, Bulbines and Golden Everlastings. We can rest knowing that the cryptic Grassland Earless Dragon and elusive Striped Legless Lizard are safe in their burrows or tussocky fields. We can marvel that the weird Canberra Raspy Cricket, the Key's Matchstick and the mouthless, and almost flightless, Golden Sun Moth continue their hidden lives in their grassland reserves. And we rejoice at the sound of flocks of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Galahs, Red-rumped Parrots, and friendly Australian Magpies: they barely move away from us as we walk or cycle past them in their dining halls under our vast blue skies.
Join Rainer Rehwinkel, grassland ecologist, and we'll try to uncover some of these treasures at the new grassland reserves at Lawson.
If you would like to become a member and join this field trip, please sign up at: https://natureartlab.com.au/collections/membership/products/membership
Field Trip Date: Friday 9 April 2021
Time: 9.30 - 11.30am
Location: Lawson, Canberra (Full location and parking details will be available on booking). This field trip is limited to 20 people.
Access: Footpaths and roadside access, and some field walking required.
Image: Rainer Rehwinkle at Lawson Grasslands (Photography by Julia Landford)