Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 440
Macquarie ACT 2614
National Capital Authority
GPO Box 373
Canberra ACT 2601
Draft Heritage Management Plan for Surveyors Hut and Surveyors Park
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. FOG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with the conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FOG is based in Canberra and its members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and members of the public.
FOG supports the preparation of a draft Heritage Management Plan for Surveyors Hut and Surveyors Park. Our primary concern is the conservation of the natural heritage of Surveyors Park and adjacent woodlands. The woodlands are of National Environmental Significance under the EPBC Act, containing the nationally endangered ecological community White Box – Yellow Box – Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and populations of the endangered Button Wrinklewort, Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides. Under a partnership agreement with the NCA, FOG has undertaken seven volunteer conservation work parties on the larger site from 2011 and in February 2014 completed the first cut over of invasive woody weeds outside the plants along the creek line. In addition FOG has overseen contract spraying of herbaceous weeds on the site.
FOG appreciated the opportunity to attend the public information session on 18 March and has prepared a series of recommendations to follow-up:-
The plan deals with built heritage and the park structures around these footprints. While passing mention is made of the relationship to the adjacent grassy woodlands to the south west, we regard this as inadequate. These lands have inadequate tenure to protect their nationally significant conservation values, and FOG recently advocated to NCA and to the Commonwealth Parliament that the lands be rezoned from parliamentary purposes to open space under the National Capital Plan. In relation to the Draft Management Plan, FOG submits that the area shaded green in Draft Figure 28 needs to be enlarged since significant vegetation values (particularly known patches of Button Wrinklewort) occur much closer to Capital Circle than indicated here. FOG is able to assist in any ground work required.
Restitution of interpretive signage is sensibly featured in the Draft Plan. FOG is all in favour but has two aspects to contribute. The first is that signage near the Hut should include basic information about, and invite visits into, the adjacent Grassy Woodland. The second is that an NCA sign, entitled “Woodland Community”, presumably of the same generation as the signs alongside the Hut, exists 300m to the SW of the Hut. This sign introduces important aspects of woodland-threatening processes and notes the local presence of Button Wrinklewort. It also discusses the threat from Acacia baileyana, a threat now nearing elimination here through FOG's partnership in weed control with the NCA. If signs are updated at the Hut, this sign also needs new work.
The assessment of weeds in the grassed areas of the Park (p. 9) is deficient in several ways. Capeweed is selected as the “worst” species, ignoring weeds of far greater impact. Chilean Needle Grass and St John’s Wort, both Weeds of National Significance, are present in the Park, as is the regionally invasive weed African Lovegrass – all present a major threat to natural heritage values. These weeds must be actively controlled through an annual spraying program covering the lands between Commonwealth and Adelaide Avenues and Capital and State Circles.
FOG rejects the notion that the stands of Elm, Ash, Poplar and other weeds constitute a “mix of evergreen and deciduous tree canopy......rare in the parliamentary zone” (p9) that warrant conserving. These woody weeds have high potential to invade areas of high conservation value and need to be eliminated. Removal of these woody weeds would restore the landscape to a condition similar to that of the time when Surveyor’s Hut was established, aiding interpretation for visitors.
While not FOG’s area of expertise, contributors to our work parties have pointed out a number of cultural heritage elements in the adjacent woodlands that complement Surveyor’s Hut. These include ongoing association with the site by the Ngunnawal traditional owners and an apparent, early rubbish dump from the time of Canberra’s establishment, and add to the case for managing woodlands and Surveyors Park together.
In summary, FOG recommends that:
- There is integrated management of the cultural and natural heritage of Surveyors Park and adjacent woodlands;
- The lands should be rezoned as open space under the National Capital Plan;
- The full set of interpretive signs is upgraded;
- Herbaceous weeds are actively controlled with an annual spraying program prioritising African Lovegrass, Chilean Needle Grass and St John’s Wort;
- Woody weeds along the creek line should be removed; and
- Only locally indigenous species are planted at the site.
9 April 2014