With the current rate of extinction of indigenous flora and fauna in Australia it can be hard to remain optimistic. Especially so for indigenous plants like the Matted Flax-lily (Dianella amoena) which is endangered nationally and critically endangered within Victoria. However, a recent undertaking by the Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary has resulted in the successful salvage of a small population of Matted Flax-lily and characterisation of the local genetic diversity for this species in collaboration with La Trobe University academics.
The Matted Flax-lily grows close to the ground and can easily be mistaken for a type of grass when it is not flowering. Prior to European colonisation the Matted Flax-lily was widely distributed along the east coast of Australia, from Tasmania to New South Wales. However, agricultural grazing, weeds and urbanisation has seen grasslands and grassy woodlands, the ideal habitat for the Matted Flax-lily, decrease in their distribution. Landscape modification has resulted in substantial habitat loss and fragmentation, particularly in peri urban areas, thereby contributing to the Matted Flax-lily being listed as endangered. Concerningly, there is a lot of uncertainty about current population size and distribution of the Matted Flax-lily, making it even more important to protect any and all remaining individuals.
Recently, an area of land containing a small population of Matted Flax-lily was set aside for the development of sports grounds and the Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary helped to implement a salvage and translocation plan under a federal permit.The Sanctuary has salvaged each plant for propagation in the indigenous nursery which in the future will be planted into a designated translocation zone.
A Masters student has surveyed the local population and will contribute to the understanding of genetics of the species. When finalised the results of the study will assist the Sanctuary to establishing a genetically diverse seed orchard population in the nursery so that plants will also be available for planting in other areas of Nangak Tamboree and for other land management projects that could contribute to the conservation of this species.
The Sanctuary’s role in protecting the Matted Flax-lily is extremely important because ongoing threats like; encroachment of invasive species, altered fire regimes, habitat loss, disturbance, grazing and fragmentation negatively impact the species. Also, native bees like the Blue Banded Bee, are unlikely to travel long distances between isolated patches of Matted Flax-lily, which means pollination between different groups is unlikely to happen in heavily modified landscapes.
Despite the challenges this species has faced in the past and present, the early stage of the translocation of the Matted Flax-lily and the establishment of a nursery population is a story of success and leaves many optimistic about its future.
There are also ways in which you can help the Matted-Flax lily. You can make your garden more pollinator friendly by planting daisies and indigenous plants so that native bees can easily move around the landscape and between populations of the Matted Flax-lily. Making your garden more native bird friendly is also very important for attracting birds which are crucial for spreading the seeds of the Matted Flax-lily. This can be done by adding water baths at different elevations and planting a variety of different indigenous trees and shrubs that provide seeds, fruit and nectar.