A swath of bushland home to endangered vegetation on the peaceful Tasman Peninsula, southeast of Hobart, will now have continued protection after a huge community fundraising effort raised the money needed for the purchase of the block.
- A total of 539 donors contributed half of the $3.4 million needed to purchase the 425-hectare reserve
- There are seven threatened plant communities on the block of land
- Botanist says it’s ‘a real thrill’ to see the level of community enthusiasm to protect the land
The 425-hectare sloping main reserve looks like any average bush block, but is home to seven threatened plant communities, including a significant area of critically endangered black gum forest.
The land will be protected for future generations after being reclaimed by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) with the help of community donors.
A total of 539 donors helped raise the funds needed to purchase it, with each donation matched dollar-for-dollar by the Elsie Cameron Foundation to reach a total of $3.4 million.
The TLC says these donors were mainly Tasmanians, including former residents who now call the mainland home to support the cause in large numbers.
“We know people want to protect endangered animals like swift parrots, forty-spotted pardalotes and Tasmanian devils,” said TLC general manager James Hattam.
“But seeing this level of enthusiasm for endangered plants was, for a botanist like me, a real thrill.”
What makes the reserve so special?
Previously, the reserve had been owned and managed by a private family for generations, who left the site essentially untouched to preserve its conservation values.
That means for TLC there’s a lot to explore – with early visits to the site having left the team excited, according to botanist and head of conservation science and planning Cath Dickson.
“They came back to the office and they just couldn’t stop talking about it,” Dr. Dickson said.
“When you look across the property, there are seven different threatened ecological communities, which is quite rare – so it’s really very diverse in what looks like a fairly common landscape.”
She said what was particularly exciting was coming across an untouched Black Gum forest – with this type of critically endangered ecological community.
“And having that understory of all our shrubs and rushes, and especially not having weedy patches, is also a very important factor.”
Hope for endangered species
It’s not just botanists who are excited.
For TLC conservation ecologist David Hamilton, the focus is on determining how many animal species inhabit the reserve.
Already, wallaby trails and wombat holes had been spotted, along with a diverse community of woodland birds and an expectation that bandicoots and bettongs will use the land.
His team also hopes to find a population of Tasmanian devils, with the Tasman Peninsula being one of the few places in the state where wild populations of the animals are free of the devastating facial tumor disease.
They also hope to find the Tasman Peninsula dusky antechinus, one of Tasmania’s least understood mammals, best known for its intense mating habits.
“The more diverse the environment, the more species it will support,” Dr Hamilton said.
“So protecting areas like this when they arise… becomes an even higher priority.”
Preservation a Community Effort
For Hobart’s Ahmet Bektas and his partner Melinda Lambourne, it was an easy decision to help purchase Sloping Main Reserve on behalf of their company, Teros.
“He ticked so many boxes,” he said. “It was not only so diverse in terms of covering a variety of endangered habitats as well as endangered species, but it also really complemented the protected areas around it.
“The planet needs all the love it can get. You only have to listen to the daily news to know that there are deeply worrying things happening for the environment.
“One of the most satisfying ways to make a difference is to find something in your garden and find a way to maintain and protect it.”
Not the only unspoilt land
The sloping Main Reserve is far from the only protected area on the Tasman Peninsula, with several community projects underway to protect the scenic area.
Around the main sloping site there are private nature reserves and Land for Wildlife properties (where private landowners own and manage parts of their land for nature conservation), while throughout the municipality there are public spaces such as the Lime Bay State Reserve and the coal mines. Historical site.
Tasman Landcare Group vice-chairman Daniel Kelleher said there was definitely a community mindset about wanting to look after their scenic backyard.
Worker bees and revegetation sessions are held regularly, Kelleher said, and landowners are increasingly looking to learn how to manage their properties to understand and reduce their carbon footprint.
“I just think it’s ingrained in you if you live here,” Mr Kelleher said.
“It’s such a beautiful landscape, you want to preserve it. You’re better off leaving the farm than when you find it.”
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