The protection of critically-endangered ecological communities is what sits at the heart of the fight to protect Lawson Grasslands from Defence Housing Australia’s proposed housing development project. At the Federal election this issue was given local prominence as a defence housing project was drawn into the election battle in a bid to save Canberra’s (often overlooked) grasslands.
Lawson Grasslands, in the North of Canberra, has extraordinary natural significance. It contains large areas of Natural Temperate Grasslands and Box-Gum Woodlands; both nationally listed critically-endangered ecological communities. These habitats are home to many unique and significant animals, including, the Gang Gang Cockatoo, Superb Parrot, Golden Sun Moth, Striped Legless Lizard, Perunga Grasshopper, and Key’s Matchstick Grasshopper.
In the face of strong community opposition, Defence Housing Australia has progressed plans to develop at the site -, endangering the Grasslands and the creatures they support.
More than 100 experts and environmental organisations have spoken out against this development, and hundreds have signed a petition calling on DHA not to proceed.
While this last Federal election was widely considered to be a ‘Climate election, people across Canberra banded together to bring the plight of nature to the political dialogue. A dedicated team of volunteers took time out of their Easter long weekend to distribute 10,000 flyers across the Belconnen region. Labor, Greens, and Independent candidates were quizzed about the Grasslands at the Conservation Council’s Election Forum, highlighting either their outright opposition, or their deep concern. And on the 7th of May around 70 people attended a colourful rally at the Grasslands, with banners waving and faces painted. Participants heard from campaigners and ecologists about why the area is so special and why there is less than 1% of Natural Temperate Grasslands protected nationally-
With the election now behind us, the campaign to protect Lawson Grasslands will evolve. There will be new opportunities to reopen scrutiny of this project by the proponents DHA, and we have already reached out to the Federal Minister responsible for Defence Housing – Ministers Katy Gallagher and Matt Keogh – to raise our concerns with them. Given the new Government’s commitment to seeing strong national laws to protect nationally significant ecosystems, and the unacceptable environmental damage that would result, we look forward to them reviewing whether this project should proceed.
Thank you and congratulations to those who volunteered their time during the campaign to help spread the message about the grasslands at Lawson – letterboxing, making signs, contacting candidates – it all helped contribute to raising the profile of this not always well understood ecosystem. Also, big thanks to our campaign partners Friends of Grasslands and Ginninderra Catchment Group for the support they contribute to this work.
You can join our call on DHA to stop this development if you haven’t already!