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The Great Plains Crash Grasslands Conference

Proceedings October 2-3, 1992

All of the papers presented at the conference held on October 2-3, 1992 are listed below and all but two available as pdf files.

Temperate grasslands are one of the world's major vegetation systems, occurring widely on all continents except Antarctica. During the past two hundred years, the human influence on natural ecosystems has expanded at an alarming rate. As natural temperate grasslands occur in attractive climates, are generally fertile and easy to exploit, they have been replaced faster than most other ecosystems.

The impacts on the grasslands of south-eastern Australia are typical, and have been catastrophic. Kirkpatrick et al. (1995) titled their book on southeastern Australia.s grasslands:

Australia's most threatened ecosystems. Of the 35% of the state of Victoria that was covered by grasslands and grassy woodlands 150 years ago, it is estimated that less than 1% survives. Many remaining grasslands have been modified by processes such as overgrazing, altered fire regimes and agricultural disturbance.

For the purpose of this volume, lowland grasslands are considered to be both humid and sub-humid grasslands of temperate south-eastern Australia (cf. McDougall and Kirkpatrick, 1994). These grasslands also include grassy woodlands. Lowland grasslands extend from Victoria to south-east Queensland, with disjunct occurrences in Tasmania. Temperate grasslands also occur in south-west Western Australia.

In late 1991, members of IFFA and James Ross, the then grassland officer for VNPA, independently decided that it was time to hold a conference on grasslands. Firstly, to publicise the parlous state of native lowland grasslands, and secondly, to summarise the formation that had been gathered on those threatened ecosystems. VNPA and IFFA combined forces, and on October 2

nd and 3rd, 1992 the Great Plains Crash - a Conference on the Grassland and Grassy Woodlands of Victoria was held at the Victorian University of Technology campus in Footscray, Victoria.

Some 280 delegates attended a very successful conference. All agreed that the conference had succeeded in publicising the rich history and the urgent need to conserve the most endangered of all our major ecosystems. Soon after the conference, programs on grassland conservation were initiated by federal, state and the ACTgovernments. A further conference, hosted by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, the Australian Nature Conservation Agency (now Environment Australia) and University of Canberra followed in September 1993.

It was always intended that the proceedings from the

Great Plains Crash be published. Tapes of the presentations were made and transcribed at great effort. However, the organisers had not secured an editor, and although the conference raised sufficient funds to publish the proceedings, the task of editing and publishing papers remained to be allocated. Finally, six years later, those papers have been prepared, edited and are now available in this joint publication of the VNPA and IFFA. At the time of the conference, the last significant group of papers on the ecology of lowland native grasslands were a series of papers on the basalt plains of Victoria published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria in 1963. In the meantime, the World Wide Fund for Nature commissioned and published a survey entitled the Conservation of Lowland Native Grasslands in South-eastern Australia (McDougall and Kirkpatrick, 1994) later adapted into a more accessible book (Kirkpatrick et al., 1995). The first publication aimed to identify remnants of native grasslands in south-eastern Australia, classify them floristically and assess their significance, the second, to educate the public about the parlous state of native grasslands.

This collection of papers from the Great Plains Crash is intended to complement those publications. It is broader and more general, encompassing issues such as geology, biogeography, history, Aboriginal management, fauna and community conservation. The emphasis is on Victorian grasslands but many of the problems faced by those grasslands are similar to other lowland grassy ecosystems Australia-wide. The papers were edited by Roger Jones.


Title, Contents, Forward and Acknowledgements
Introduction and Overview
Bob Parsons
W(h)ither Grasslands? Opening Address
Peter Bridgewater
Geology and Geomorphology of Victoria's Grassland Regions
Neville Rosengren
The Biogeography of the Grasses and Lowland Grasslands of South-eastern Australia
Roger Jones
Natural and Human Influences on the Distribution and Extent of Victorian Lowland Grasslands
Roger Jones
Koorie Use and Management of the Plains
Beth Gott
Grassland, Grassland, Uber Alles
Keith MacDougall
Management of Remnant Grassy Forests and Woodlands in South-eastern Australia (not available online)
Ian Lunt
Rediscover of Leptorhynchos scabrus (Benth.)Haegi in Northern Victoria
Paul Foreman
Grassland Invertebrates of the Western Victorian Basalt Plains: Plant Crunchers or Forgotten Lunches?
Alan Yen
Community Action and Initiatives on the Keilor Plains
Carl Rayner
Recovery of the Eastern Barred Bandicooot - From Armchair to Activist
Pam Thomas
Conservation Declaration for Native Grasslands and Grassy Woodlands (not available online)
Conference Delegates
Checklist of the vascular plant species of the Victorian Volcanic Plain
Geoff Carr