Back in February we saw poorly briefed contractors do serious damage to the most important Button Wrinklewort population in Australia at Truganina Cemetery (Conservation Area 10). Last year it was fencing contractors almost trashing hundreds of Spiny Rice-flower at Sewells Road Grassland (Conservation Area 12). Now its trucks churning grassland into mud at Donnybrook Cemetery (Conservation Area 24). And let’s not forget the complete destruction of Conservation Area 9, buried under thousands of tonnes of asbestos-contaminated fill.

Fortunately, the damage at Donnybrook is confined to a small area. But there are two issues here.

1: Poor processes. It’s up to land managers – Councils, Cemetery Trusts, whoever – to make sure that this misadministration doesn’t happen. For Conservation Areas such as Donnybrook and Truganina Cemeteries, it’s up to the Melbourne Strategic Assessment (MSA) team at DEECA to make sure land managers have the right processes in place. That certainly hasn’t happened here.

2: A long history of poor management at Donnybrook Cemetery that DEECA has allowed to continue. Cars are carving turning circles and parking on grassland with no fencing to prevent it. Weeds are rife. It badly needs a burn. There’s no signage about the importance of the grassland, no visible care at all.

Donnybrook Cemetery is a remarkable grassland, immediately adjacent to Kalkallo Common to the north and the Stony Rises to the south. It has a unique suite of species, EPBC-listed Matted Flax-lily, very dense stands of Pimelea (glauca and curviflora), and unusual peas, including the FFG-listed Tough Scurf Pea. There’s a good population of Tussock Skink too.

We’ve written to Remembrance Parks Central Victoria, the new owners since October 2022. We shared with them that cemeteries, with never ploughed and never grazed land, are some of the last places where high-quality remnant grassland can be found. We have urged them to take all steps necessary to ensure this patch of our living national heritage is managed for future generations.

This is an opportunity. Together with the Melbourne Strategic Assessment team and Hume City Council, they have to come up with a plan.

The Melbourne Strategic Assessment team has to get its house in order. There are good people there, but this playing catch-up while our grasslands get trashed has to stop.