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A fragile ecosystem

The volcanic plains of western Victoria were once home to sprawling native grasslands filled with delicate orchids, wildflowers, birds, reptiles, insects and marsupials, some of which were found nowhere else in Australia.

Today, these important grasslands have almost disappeared due to clearing for agriculture, grazing, and urban development. This irreplaceable grassland ecosystem under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is classified as critically endangered.

Working together with Traditional Owners and learning from their knowledge and deep connection to Country, the Western Grassland Reserve will be restored over the coming decades so it can be enjoyed by future generations.

Aeriel view of Grass and trees with mountainous Skyline
On Wadawurrung, Bunurong and Wurundjeri country

What lives here?

From sprawling grassland meadows, to ancient woodlands and seasonal wetlands, the Western Grassland Reserve is home to hundreds of different species of native animals and plants, including:

What we're doing

To protect one of the largest, contiguous sections of remaining grassland, the Victorian Government has set aside 15,000 hectares of private land, mostly used for agricultural purposes, to establish the Western Grassland Reserve.

This entire area is covered by a Public Acquisition Overlay, which means the Victorian Government is committed to purchasing all properties and establishing the reserve in full. So far, we have purchased more than 20% of the land.

The remaining area is still under private ownership. We are negotiating with landowners to acquire more land in the coming years. As we continue to raise revenue from the MSA levy, we will purchase more land.

Challenges

Establishing and restoring the Western Grassland Reserve is a long-term, complex project, with significant challenges like weeds, pests and overgrazing.

Weeds are one of the most serious threats to fragile grassland ecosystems. Invasive species are a huge issue. For example, serrated tussock - which is found throughout the reserve, is considered to be one of the most damaging weeds in Australia, as it spreads quickly and rapidly invades pastures and grasslands.

Controlling and managing weeds is a complex task. Different weeds require a range of removal methods, and this is dependant on the type of landscape and ecology of the area. To tackle this challenge, we work with the Arthur Rylah Institute, local councils and other government agencies and organisations to manage threats to native plants, animals and ecosystems.

Working together to manage the land

We are working with Forest Fire Management Victoria, Wyndham City Council, Parks Victoria and the Arthur Rylah Institute, to manage and restore the grasslands. We take an adaptive management approach to managing this complex ecosystem. This includes:

Western Grassland Reserve downloadable map

Western Grassland Reserve map

Map of the Western Grassland Reserve: Caroline Springs, Deer Park, Melbouren and Werribee
Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung, Bunurong and Wadawurrung peoples as the Traditional Owners of this land.

Information for landholders

If you own or manage land in the Western Grassland Reserve, there’s more detail on the for landowners page.

If you want to discuss selling your property or for more information, email wgr.msa@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Page last updated: 13/02/24