Victoria’s native grasslands have been absolutely devastated. They are the most critically endangered ecosystem now in Australia, with less than 4.5 percent of the original amount of grasslands actually left, and this was a grassland that once covered 10 percent of Victoria or some 21 000 square kilometres and we’ve probably only got a few thousand hectares now left today, so they’ve been wiped out.
Historically grasslands were really attractive to the early settlers because it meant that they could create their farms straight away. And more recently grasslands continue to be cleared for suburban development, and also for industrial development, and the little pockets that now remain are unfortunately being invaded by introduced species, a variety of weeds, things like rabbits, and I think for the future, climate change is going to be a major impact on the remaining little pockets of grassland. So if we lose these grasslands from Victoria then the whole of Australia is worse off having lost that biodiversity, that precious biodiversity that’s really adapted to Victoria’s volcanic soils.
We’ve got several endangered species. Our most iconic species is the Striped Legless Lizard, a wonderful little lizard that measures about 30cm long, and is about as thick as my little finger, and the largest known population of these lizards actually lives right on our back doorstep. To look after the habitat for the Striped Legless Lizard we’re really trying to restore the grasslands as much to their former glory as we can. So we get in and we do a lot of weeding, we do ecological burns, and obviously re-vegetation is a very important part of our work where we plant seedlings, and then monitoring is also a really important part of the work that we do here just to make sure that all of those other jobs have been done properly and are having the positive impact on the population of the Striped Legless Lizard like we’d hoped for.
Really the simplest thing you can do to help save an endangered species is to plant indigenous plants. Put these back into your garden at home and at school and you then start creating wildlife habitat for butterflies and skinks and frogs and who knows, you may even have the Striped Legless Lizard wander in from a grassland reserve to live in your garden.