15 September 2023

'Very disappointing': ACT Government rejects proposal to expand Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve

| Travis Radford
Join the conversation
Ainslie Volcanics Weeders.

The Ainslie Volcanics Weeders: Danny Jowers-Blain, Marianne Albury-Colless, Peter Boreham, Amy Blain, Bertie Jowers-Blain and Ann Hare. Photo: Danny Jowers-Blain.

The ACT Government has rejected a proposal to incorporate two blocks of land in Ainslie with “important ecological and cultural values” into the Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve.

Earlier this year, Greens MLA Jo Clay tabled a petition in the ACT Legislative Assembly with almost 600 signatures and the backing of local community and conservation groups.

The petition called on the ACT Government to protect the important ecological and heritage values of the Ainslie Volcanics site by incorporating it into the Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve.

READ ALSO High Court rules Qantas illegally sacked more than 1700 baggage handlers

ACT Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman responded to the petition on behalf of the government in a letter which began by agreeing with many of the petitioners’ arguments.

It said the site had “important ecological and cultural values that require ongoing protection and care” and that “adding this section into the protected areas of Canberra Nature Park could assist to secure ecological improvements”.

However, the letter stated such a move would require “significant additional resourcing” and argued the government’s current land management arrangements to control pest plants and animals were “adequate”.

Minister Gentleman also listed concerns about the suitability of the sites, including their disconnection from Canberra Nature Park, ecological degradation and likely future use in the urban open space network.

Ms Clay, the ACT Greens spokesperson for parks and conservation who tabled the petition, disagreed. She said the government should commit resources to important local areas, such as the Ainslie Volcanics site.

“The assembly petition has made clear the community’s wish for the Ainslie Volcanics to be part of the Canberra Nature Park, though protections are needed whether it is part of Nature Park or not,” she said.

“This area is particularly important as it contains critically endangered Natural Temperate Grasslands, Box Gum Woodland, and habitat for multiple Commonwealth threatened species.”

Ainslie Volcanics Site map

The Ainslie Volcanics site is located at the base of Mount Ainslie. Photo: Travis Radford.

However, Minister Gentleman said conservation could occur across all land tenures, with bollards able to identify conservation zones and ensure appropriate management activities. He noted the government was also having productive conversations with conservation groups about ways to provide greater recognition and protection to areas of high ecological value that sat outside Canberra’s formal reserve system.

“The site remaining as is will enable protection of ecological values as well as the flexibility for volunteer groups to participate in land management activities, and for future amenity activities to improve the open space for local residents,” Minister Gentleman said. “The government will continue to support local community groups to also care for these locations through the provision of grants and other assistance.”

READ ALSO Long-awaited Belconnen Transitway given three year deadline to become reality

However, member of one of these local community groups, Ainslie Volcanics Grassy Woodland Weeders, and principal petitioner Amy Blain described the government’s response as “very disappointing”.

“We need the government to prioritise the environment,” she said. “We’re in an ecological crisis and the ACT Government has promised to protect threatened grassland ecosystems, like this one.

“We would love to see the government enter into a protection agreement and to recognise the strength of community support and the over 100 volunteer hours invested to protect it.”

Ainslie Volcanics Grassy Woodland Weeders convenor Marianne Albury-Colless said the decision would also reduce connectivity between remnant ecosystems.

“These remnants, when protected, managed and conserved, play a vital role as ‘stepping stones’ to increase corridor for both fauna and flora,” she said.

“We will keep up the community effort and urge more volunteers to join us in restoring this precious part of Mt Ainslie.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Again the Greens are arguing for urban infill and against urban infill at the same time. This site used to be the headquarters for the CSIRO, then was sold for redevelopment. It was then subject of a fake claim of cultural significance, and now the site is claimed to be environmentally significant. The site might actually have some type of gravitational anomaly that attracts protest groups, can’t wait for the next episode.

ACT Greens have a strong track record in calling for one thing and then doing the opposite. Keeps their unaffected inner north political base happy without having to face the consequences.

Remember years of talk about better bus services and better transport options for disadvantaged people and areas.

Then in 2019 they rip hundreds of bus stops out of Tuggeranong and make Tuggeranong bus routes much slower and much worse for the majority of residents. You are right to point out the repeated disconnect from Greens voters and the repeated hypocrisy of ACT Greens MLA’s.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.