New field guide to the common grasses of the Southern Rangelands

[October 2015]

A ‘Field Guide to Common Grasses of the Southern Rangelands’ is now available to help land managers better understand local grasses which would inform decisions about land and livestock management.

Grasses, particularly perennials, supply year-round nutritional energy for livestock, but also have an important role in maintaining landscape function.

Launched at the Meekatharra Rangelands Biosecurity Association Innovation Expo at Wogarno this week by Rangelands Communication Manager Teresa Belcher and principal author David Blood, the guide was developed by Rangelands NRM with funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country Program.

The guide was compiled during late 2014 and early 2015 by David Blood (Environmental Consultant), Andrew Mitchell (Arid shrubland plant expert) and Jim Addison (Department of Agriculture and Food, Kalgoorlie) and edited by Jane Bradley former Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Southern Rangelands). 

Assistance and local advice was also provided local pastoralists, DAFWA staff and others.  Collection and photography trips were made by the main author to the Gascoyne, Murchison and Goldfields in 2014 and 2015.  The spectacular season in early 2015 provided exceptional conditions for late summer and autumn growth.  

Principal author David Blood said the field guide would make it easier for people to identify and understand the role and place of grasses in the landscape and the grazing system.  

“The guide aims to address a lack of information on the value and benefit of native perennial grasses in the Southern Rangelands,” Mr Blood said.

“It includes photos and information on each species relating to palatability, indicator value, conservation status, habitat and responses to grazing,” he said.

 “We wanted to explain the important role grasses play in the productivity and stability of these rangelands,” he said.

Co-author Andrew Mitchell said it was hoped the guide would improve land managers’ understanding of their grasses and with this knowledge, help them improve the management of the country and the animals that depend on it. 

“Grasses have long been ignored or taken for granted, and we do this at our peril,” Mr Mitchell said. 

An initial print run of 150 will be distributed to pastoralists within the Meekatharra RBA zone, until a reprint later this year allows distribution to pastoralists in the Carnarvon and Kalgoorlie RBA zones. 

For information about the guide, contact Rangelands NRM on info@rangelandswa.com.au or 08 9468 8250.

The guide is available for download on our Publications Page.

Images:
Front cover of the grass guide
Principal author David Blood, Rangelands NRM Regional Land Care Facilitator Mary-Anne Clunies-Ross and Rangelands NRM Communications Manager Teresa Belcher launch the field guide at the Murchison Innovation Expo.