The Victorian Government has committed to setting up two grassland reserves to protect endangered native grasslands and threatened species, as well as mitigate any potential impacts of urban development on grasslands removed in the growth corridors.
The Western Grassland Reserves will cover two areas of land outside the Urban Growth Boundary south-east of Melton and west of Werribee that connect the You Yangs area to the Werribee River across the volcanic plains.
The reserves will protect the largest remaining concentration of volcanic plains grasslands in Australia and a range of other habitat types, including ephemeral wetlands, waterways, Red Gum swamps, rocky knolls and open grassy woodlands.
This will increase the extent of protection of the critically endangered Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Victorian Volcanic Plain from two per cent to 20 per cent.
The reserves also provide habitat for many State and Commonwealth listed threatened and rare species, in particular the Golden Sun Moth and Spiny Rice-flower, as well as the Striped Legless Lizard and the Plains Wanderer.
The reserves were designated as part of planning scheme amendment VC68. The boundaries aim to maximise the protection of large contiguous areas of volcanic plains grasslands and were finalised after an extensive public consultation process.
Setting up the reserves
Land in the Western Grassland Reserves is subject to a Public Acquisition Overlay (PAO), as well as an Environmental Significance Overlay. The reserves will be established by acquisition of properties subject to the PAO. Land will be acquired based on the prioritisation criteria for land acquisition in the document 'Land Protection under the Biodiversity Strategy' . To view this document, please see our Documents page.
DELWP is the acquiring authority for land in the reserves and will seek to negotiate voluntary sale agreements with landowners affected by the PAO. It is expected that most properties will be acquired by voluntary agreement.
It may be necessary to apply compulsory acquisition to ensure the reserves are fully established. All landowners will be consulted well in advance of any compulsory acquisition to ensure the process is conducted in a clear and fair manner.
The process for compulsory acquisition, the amount of compensation and the process for disputing the amount of compensation are outlined in the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986.
Managing the reserves
The Victorian Government is working closely with leading grassland experts to advise on management techniques and set management standards.
Parks Victoria will manage the reserves in accordance with these standards. At DELWP we will implement an adaptive management program for the reserves to ensure the most effective allocation of management resources to reach management targets.
You can learn more about adaptive management under the MSA program, at Adaptive management.
Grassy Eucalypt Woodland Reserve
The Victorian Government has also committed to setting up a Grassy Eucalypt Woodland reserve to protect this endangered native vegetation community and to mitigate any potential impacts of urban development on these woodlands in the growth corridors.
The Grassy Eucalypt Woodland Reserve will cover an area of land outside the Urban Growth Boundary north-east of Melbourne, with the boundaries yet to be determined. The Biodiversity Conservation Strategy identifies a broad investigation area where the reserve may be located.
Land in the reserve will be secured through voluntary means, including voluntary negotiated purchase by the Crown or voluntary legal agreements (restrictive covenants) under section 69 of the Conservation Forests and Land Act 1987.
We are preparing a strategy that sets out the approach that will be used to determine the boundaries of the Grassy Eucalypt Woodland Reserve in the investigation area including public consultation.