There are no big plains or grasslands in Australia.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t huge grasslands around.
There are more than 600,000 square kilometres of Australia’s vast grasslands, which are spread across much of the country, including parts of Victoria and Queensland.
That is the equivalent of the size of New South Wales and South Australia combined.
But they are small, only about 20 per cent of the continent.
The number of grasslands has also been growing in Australia, and many have not been considered big enough to warrant the name “grassland”.
“There are not that many big grassland areas that are being identified as big grass landscapes,” said Dr Tom MacLennan, who studies grasslands at the University of Melbourne.
“But there are a lot of smaller grassland species and they’re growing.
They’re the kinds of grassland that people would expect to see in the landscape in the wild, so the fact that they’re being neglected is a real problem.”
Dr MacLenna is also the principal investigator for the Grassland Landscape Survey, which monitors the number of big grassy areas across Australia.
“There’s a lot more grassland around now,” he said.
“It’s just that it’s not being assessed.”
Dr John Gannon, an Australian University professor who studies vegetation in the continent, said Australia’s grasslands were not yet considered big grass ecosystems because they were not considered big.
He said that, even in small areas, big grasses were not uncommon.
“Australia has more than 200 species of grasses that are big grass species,” he explained.
“They’re all over the place.
They grow in a range of places and they are all quite big.”
Mr MacLogan said that grasslands could be “invisible” to the naked eye.
“The big grass is often hidden in the bush, the little grasses can be very difficult to spot and you can’t tell them apart,” he told the ABC.
“If you have a lot, you have the big grass and if you have only a small, the tiny grasses are hidden in a grassy patch.”
Dr Gannon said the “grass is invisible” explanation for why Australia has not been more successful in establishing big grass areas in the country was a “mistake”.
“We should have gone back to the drawing board to look at how we could better identify and classify large grasses,” he warned.
“You have to look a bit further than just the numbers, because they’re all very small.”
In some areas, such as Tasmania, grasslands are already considered big in terms of biodiversity and vegetation.
But the National Park Authority in Tasmania, which manages more than 20 national parks and wilderness areas, said it was still considering whether to set up new big grass sites.
The NT’s largest grassland is also one of the few large grassland sites in Australia and has been classified as “big” by the NT Parks and Wildlife Service.
“We’re looking at the area of the park and trying to decide whether we can establish a new big field,” the NT’s chief executive officer said.
Mr MacGannon said it could be argued that Australia’s big grass lands are now too small.
“I think there’s a certain amount of blame to go around, that there’s just been too little effort put into big grass land,” he added.
One of the problems is that they’ve spent all their money and time on a national park that’s not very big and that’s just not a big enough place to grow grass, let alone large grasslands.”