Friday, November 18, 2011

Grasslands of Southeast Australia

This is a Kangaroo, one of many Grassland native animals

=The Australian grasslands are dominated by different types of grasses and receive less than 250 mm per year. Some of these grasses include saltbushbluebushspear grass and kangaroo grass.They are also home to a variety of different animal species such as Wombats, Kangaroos, and Emus.Grasslands today do not look like they once did many years ago. Humans have created farmlands filled with crops and cattle that occupy the area that was once all grassland. With the remaining Australian grassland, humans are the main cause of destruction, mostly in the forms of fires or hunting. Only about 1% of native grasslands are protected, meaning no hunting or farming can take place there.

The Tempurate Grasslands are in the grey shaded region

The future of Australian grassland is not very good. Overtime if humans continue to clear the land it will eventually be completely gone. Australia is one of only five countries that continue to clear their native vegetation so more and more grasslands are being cut and cleared for farming purposes as well as development for towns and cities. Although some of the area is preserved, it is still a decreasing ecosystem in Australia. Invasive grass species are being introduced to help feed cattle which also destroys native grass. Out of the estimated 5 million acres of grassland in Australia, only around 24000 acres are in good condition. This is a huge problem for Australia and if nothing is done grasslands will become extinct.

This is what the Grassland looks like. It is generally dry with short trees and shrubs
The plants that make up the grasslands of Australia consist mostly of grasses and perennials. 90% of grassland biomass is underground, and the roots of the plants reach down extremely far into the ground. This allows them to hold a lot of nutrients. When fire hits the grassland, the top of the plants and grasses burn off, and then they re-sprout. 
Animals such as Wombats, Koala Bears, Lizards, Wallabies, Dingoes, and of course Kangaroos all call the Australian grassland home. The Hairy Nosed Wombat is a highly endangered due to the introduction of non-native grazing animals like cattle and sheep, which outcompeted the Wombat. Also, hunting and habitat loss contributed to its downfall. 

Since we are the main cause of destruction, there is not very much we can do to preserve these grasslands other than putting an end to further clearing of the land. However there are a few ways of sustaining the remaining grasslands. In Australia, people are planting Australia’s native plants in their gardens, at their schools, and in the local areas. Doing this decreases the amount of exotic introduced plants into the country as well as provides native animals food so they can thrive in the wild. Farmers have also designed specific grazing rotations for cattle so the invasive grass species does not take over. Rather than letting the grass grow wildly, controlling where is grows will keep it at a minimum. Lastly, there are fire control programs have been set up to burn some of the invasive grass species to help decrease the amount. That way they can re plantnative species to maintain the native grasslands.

 This table shows how little grassland is left in South-East Australia. As you can see, only .5% of the native grassland remains and out of that .5% only 2% of that is preserved. This is a huge problem that must be fixed or else it will become extinct.

These represent the decline of Grassland in New Zealand. New Zealand resides right off the coast of Southeast Australia so humans are clearing that grassland for farming and cities as well. Over the past century, it is obvious that there has been a massive decline of native grassland area.

We must find ways to protect and serve these native areas of Australia. If we continue to do what we are doing the entire Australian grassland will be nothing but cities and farmland .


Morgan, J. W. (1998), Patterns of invasion of an urban remnant of a species-rich grassland in southeastern Australia by non-native plant species. Journal of Vegetation Science, 9: 181–190. doi: 10.2307/3237117

CSIRO Division of Wildlife & Ecology, PO Box 2111, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 0871, Australia