The 'Wildflower Whisperer' to visit

Dr Paul Gibson-Roy will be visiting Newham on November 22 to talk about the importance of preserving our native grasslands, and how property owners can do so. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

Dr Paul Gibson-Roy will be visiting Newham on November 22 to talk about the importance of preserving our native grasslands, and how property owners can do so. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

Learn about the benefits of native pastures for grazing and biodiversity with Dr Paul Gibson-Roy, lead scientist for Greening Australia.

The Upper Campaspe Landcare Network will present a workshop on Native Pastures for Grazing with the highly regarded Dr Gibson-Roy, from 10am to 3pm on November 22 at the Newham Mechanics Hall.

Dr Gibson-Roy has a PhD in investigating grasslands and their restoration and has spent the past 20 years working in the landscape understanding how to restore grasslands on farms, roadsides and within our towns and cities.

He started in the field in the late 90s heading a program called the Grassy Groundcover Research Project, a multi-regional research partnership between Greening Australia (Victoria) and the University of Melbourne, which demonstrated the feasibility of restoring complex native herbaceous vegetation on agricultural lands by direct seeding.

He recently travelled to America on a Winston Churchill fellowship to look at their native seed production and prairie restoration and to learn how the Americans were restoring their prairies.

Dr Gibson-Roy is also the co author of a book called The Land of Sweeping Plains, a remarkable book on the grasslands of South Eastern Victoria. Dr Gibson-Roy will present on how native pastures used in agriculture are evolved to suit Australian conditions and can be more hardy and robust than introduced species. He will explain how they can be successfully used as fodder for stock and how they are particularly useful for horses as they are lower in sugars.

At the workshop Dr Gibson-Roy will talk about how native pastures on farms can be beneficial to properties as they can help reduce soil erosion, surface water flows and water run offs. For example tussock grasses tend to trap water rather than let it run off the surface. Another aspect of native pastures are their biodiversity benefits. They attract a wider range of beneficial insects, such as bees, that can predate on pests. Diverse grasslands can produce beneficial habitats for native flora and fauna, and can also look remarkably attractive.

"By restoring native grasslands people can help to preserve and manage that habitat for future generations," he explained.

"There is less than one per cent of native grasslands habitat left in Victoria. That's why their restoration and conservation is so critical.

"By attending this workshop landowners will get an appreciation of the importance of native grasslands, and why it is so important not to let them disappear for good. They will learn why they are valuable and what we can do to help conserve and restore them. By planting and restoring native grasslands there are benefits for both farming and biodiversity."

To book for the workshop contact Pasturesbooking, email environment@mrsc.vic.gov.au or call 5421 9660.