Native seed harvesting project to revitalise CQ grasslands
A not-for-profit organisation has recently completed the second phase of a project in Central Queensland, to harvest native grass seeds to use in mine land rehabilitation projects across the state.
National not-for-profit Bush Heritage Australia recently wrapped up the second phase of an innovative Queensland Bluegrass (Dichanthium sericeum) grass seed harvesting project on Carnarvon Station Reserve, Bidjara country in the Queensland Brigalow Belt region.
Bluegrass species typically grow best on fertile clay soils that are suited for grazing and cropping and as a result, its extent and condition has declined dramatically since the introduction of large-scale agricultural practices.
About 700kg of native grass seeds were harvested in 2021 as part of the project, mostly bluegrass with up to a dozen other native grass species in the mix.
It’s an increase of almost 30 per cent from the 550kg of seeds harvested in the inaugural trial in 2020 and reflects an exceptional wet season after five years of below average rainfall.
Carnarvon Reserve manager Chris Wilson said it was critical to maintain native grasses to retain the natural wildlife across the region.
“Not only does this project provide Bush Heritage with a sustainable income stream to support on-ground conservation work, but it facilitates the uptake of native grasses in other locations,” he said.
“It’s absolutely critical we maintain healthy grasslands as they attract insects, the start of the food chain, which then flows on to birds, small rodents and native mammals.
“Native grasses help to retain all these species, and also reduce the impact of the more intense bushfires predicted under climate change.”
The harvested seeds will be sent to specialist soil, land and ecological restoration consultants Highlands Environmental in Emerald for use in grassland regeneration and mined land rehabilitation programs throughout the Brigalow Belt bioregion, which spans from the Queensland, New South Wales border north to Townsville.
Highlands Environmental Managing Director Terry Short said scientists were undertaking soil and vegetation condition monitoring pre and post-harvesting to build up a solid ecological dataset over time.
“I am absolutely delighted to be working with Chris and the Bush Heritage team on such a worthy project,” he said.
The brush harvester used has minimal impact on the plants and takes only 10-15 per cent of available ripe seed, leaving the rest to go back into the ecosystem.