Refugee volunteers are rolling their sleeves up to help save an important native grassland in Wyndham.
The group, from the Karen community, is working with Parks Victoria to clean seeds needed to revegetate 20,000 square hectares of land across Wyndham, Mt Cotterell and Rockbank that make up the Western Grasslands Reserve.
The native grass on the land has been degraded over time by livestock and cropping.
Hundreds of kilos of native kangaroo grass has been trucked in from western Victoria to help revegetate the land.
Parks Victoria grassland ranger Emma Parker said the kangaroo grass seeds needed to be extracted from the grass clippings by hand.
“A groups of local Karen refugees have volunteered to clean and collect the thousands of seeds needed to revegetate the reserves,” Ms Parker said.
“It is an unbelievable contribution because seed cleaning is laborious manual work.
“It is work that can only really be done by hand and the Karen group has stepped up to help.”
The seed is collected by hand threshing grass clippings and then sifting the grass to remove the seed.
Werribee Park Ranger and Karen community member Hsar Thein Ju rallied the group to lend a helping hand.
“It’s important that we preserve some of the native grassland,” Mr Ju said.
“It is a unique and sensitive ecosystem that is habitat for many native animals.
“It’s important that we keep some of it for future generations.
Werribee Park Chief Ranger James Brincat said the reserves would connect the You Yangs to the Werribee River across the volcanic plain.
“The reserves will protect the largest remaining concentration of volcanic plains grasslands in Australia and a range of other habitat types, including ephemeral wetlands, waterways, Red Gum swamps, rocky knolls and open grassy woodlands,” Mr Brincat said.
“This will increase the extent of protection of the critically endangered Natural Temperate Refugee volunteer Nyee Lay said he was pleased to be able to help.
“Karen people have a natural connection to the landscape and we like the idea we are doing something to preserve it,” Mr Lay said.