Hundreds of donors rally to buy and protect Tasman Peninsula bush block Sloping Main Reserve

A swath of bushland home to threatened vegetation on the sleepy Tasman Peninsula, south-east of Hobart, will now have ongoing protection after a huge community fundraising effort helped raise the funds to purchase the block.

The 425-hectare Sloping Main Reserve looks like any average bush block, but is home to seven threatened vegetation communities — including a significant area of ​​critically endangered black gum forest.

The land will be protected for future generations after being snapped up by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) with the help of community donors.

A total of 539 donors helped raise the necessary funds for its purchase, with each donation matched dollar for dollar by the Elsie Cameron Foundation to reach a grand total of $3.4 million.

Sloping Main Reserve on the Tasman Peninsula includes critically endangered black gum forest.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

The TLC says these donors were predominantly Tasmanians, including previous residents who now call the mainland home getting behind the cause in large numbers.

“We know people want to protect threatened animals like swift parrots, forty-spotted pardalotes and Tasmanian devils,” TLC chief executive James Hattam said.

“But to see this level of enthusiasm for threatened plants has been, for a botanist like me, a real thrill.”

What makes the reserve so special?

Wetlands with brown water, green reeds and trees
The reserve holds at least seven different threatened ecological communities.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Previously, the reserve had been privately owned and managed by one family for generations, who left the site essentially untouched to preserve its conservation values.

That means for the TLC, there is plenty to explore — with early visits to the site having left the team excited, according to botanist and conservation science and planning manager Cath Dickson.

“They came back into the office and they just couldn’t stop talking about it,” Dr Dickson said.

A woman sits on part of a dead tree in a wetlands area, which is surrounded by gum trees
Dr Dickson says the bush here may look common but it is actually very diverse and full of important species.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

“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 stumbling across intact Black Gum woodland — with this type of ecological community critically endangered.

“And having this understory of all our shrubs and our rushes, and particularly not having any weedy areas, is a really important factor as well.”

An aerial shot of wetlands, with brown water and a few trees
Tasmanian Land Conservancy now owns the land.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Hope for endangered species

It is not only the botanists who are excited.

For TLC conservation ecologist David Hamilton, the focus is on determining just how many animal species are calling the reserve home.

A man standing in the bush holds a pair of binoculars
Dr Hamilton’s team is trying to find out how many different animal species call the reserve home.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Already, wallaby trails and wombat holes had been spotted, along with a diverse woodland bird community and an expectation that bandicoots and bettongs will be making use of the land.

His team are also hoping to find a Tasmanian devil population, with the Tasman Peninsula one of only a few places in the state where wild populations of the animals are free from the devastating facial tumor disease.

They are also hopeful of finding the Tasman Peninsula dusky antechinus, one of Tasmania’s least understood mammals, best known for their intense mating habits.

“The more diverse the environment, the higher the number of species it’s going to support,” Dr Hamilton said.

“So protecting areas like this when they come up … becomes an even higher priority.”

Gum trees with blue sky and a few clouds in the background
Black gums are critically endangered but found at Sloping Main Reserve.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Preservation a community effort

For Hobart’s Ahmet Bektas and partner Melinda Lambourne, it was an easy decision to contribute to the purchase of Sloping Main Reserve on behalf of their business, Teros.

“It 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 complimented 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 to the environment.

“One of the most fulfilling ways to make a difference is to find something in your backyard and find a way to nurture and protect it.”

Not the only land being preserved

Sloping Main Reserve is far from the only protected area on the Tasman Peninsula, with multiple community projects underway to protect the scenic region.

Around the Sloping Main site there are privately owned nature reserves and Land for Wildlife properties (where private landowners own and manage parts of their land for nature conservation), while across the municipality there are public spaces such as Lime Bay State Reserve and the Coal Mines Historic Site.

A man and a woman walk along a bush track, each holding a pair of binoculars.  The man is pointing to something out of frame
Dr Hamilton and Dr Dickson are working to better understand the significance of the reserve.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Tasman Landcare Group vice-president Daniel Kelleher said there was definitely a community mindset of wanting to look after their picturesque backyard.

Working bees and revegetation sessions are regularly being held, Mr 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 want to leave the farm better than when you found it.”

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: