Tasmanian Midlands Landscape Project

A partnership between Bush Heritage and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy
Grasslands at Beauford
The Tasmanian Midlands is a mosaic of woodlands, native grasslands and wetlands. Photo by Matthew Newton

Protecting nature on productive farms

Laying between Tasmania's Eastern Tiers and Great Western Tiers and  is one of Australia's fifteen national biodiversity hotspots – the woodlands and grassy lowland plains of the Tasmanian Midlands.

A rich farming region dotted with convict-era farmhouses, and interspersed with a patchwork of woodlands and grasslands, the region is a refuge for animals now lost from or struggling on the mainland, including the eastern bettong, spotted-tail quoll and eastern barred bandicoot. It is rich in plant and animal species, many of which are endemic or endangered – including 32 nationally threatened species and more than 180 plants and animals that are threatened in Tasmania.

In collaboration with  the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, Bush Heritage is assisting landholders to protect the plants, animals and natural features of the region.

Grassland and paddock at Beaufront
Pasture and native grassland.
Photo by Matthew Newton

Surrounded by mountains, the Tasmanian Midlands has lower rainfall and is ecologically distinct from the wetter regions of the west, south and east of the state. It is also less well represented in national parks and other designated conservation areas.

At the time of settlement in the early 1800s the area was a mosaic of woodlands, grasslands and wetlands, maintained by traditional burning regimes of its Aboriginal custodians. The open landscape enabled the rapid establishment of sheep grazing estates on native pastures - a form of farming that left the native ecosystems relatively intact.

However in recent decades, as farming practises have changed and intensified, native grasslands and woodlands have declined and increasingly given way to agricultural pastures and cropping. Less than 10% of the original native grasslands and 30% of all vegetation remains, much of it degraded in some way. There is now a pressing need to protect these precious remnants.

What we are protecting with our projects in the Tasmanian Midlands

South Esk Pines.
Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle. Photo by Matthew Newton.

Spot-tailed quoll
Spot-tailed quoll. Photo by Matthew Newton

Black-tip spider orchid
Black-tipped spider orchid. Photo by Matthew Newton
 

Tasmanian Midlands is home to 32 nationally threatened species and more than 180 plants and animals threatened in Tasmania.

Significant species and vegetation communities protected on the participating properties include:

Animals

  • Tasmanian devil (nationally endangered)
  • Spotted-tail quoll (nationally vulnerable)
  • Eastern barred bandicoot (nationally vulnerable)
  • Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle (nationally endangered)
  • Eastern bettong (extinct on mainland, nationally endangered)

Plants

  • Black tipped orchid (critically endangered)
  • Pungent and Golfers leek-orchids (critically endangered)
  • Silky bush pea (vulnerable in Tasmania)
  • Tunbridge buttercup (endangered)

Vegetation communities

  • Lowland grasslands
  • Black peppermint woodland

What we are doing to protect the Tasmanian Midlands


Most native vegetation in the Tasmanian Midlands is privately owned, and many of landholders have long historical connections to the landscape. Given this, and the high value of land in this agriculturally productive region, buying properties to manage them for conservation is not practical or appropriate.

In the Midlands there is now a better way to conserve species and habitats on farms. In collaboration with landholders and the Tasmanian and Australian governments, Bush Heritage and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy work together to impliment the Midlandscapes Project, which includes a number of initiatives that are designed to foster conservation on private land.

Silky bush pea
A diverse flora of wildflower species occur in the woodlands, grasslands and wetlands. Photo by Matt Appleby

A key initiative within the Midlandscapes project is the innovative Midlands Conservation Fund. Developed by Bush Heritage and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, the fund provides stewardship payments to farmers in return for conserving biodiversity on their farms, alongside agricultural production.

Landholders who take up stewardship agreements are paid a fee for putting portions of their land toward conservation. The stewardship agreements then provide for annual performance payments for meeting conservation targets. Bush Heritage ecologists assist with the identification of native plants and animals, and the development and implementation of plans to protect them, including fencing, grazing management and restoration of native vegetation.

Grassland fringed marsh near Beaufront
A grassland fringed marsh near Beaufront. Photo by Matthew Newton

A long-term commitment

Stewardship agreements are initially committed to by landowners for up to ten years with the intent that they will be extended for rolling five-year terms.

The fund contains $3 million, generously donated by the Sidney Myer Fund, The Myer Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and others. As we work towards our $10 million capital target by 2020, we will have the capacity to support many more landowners to conserve habitat on their farms.

The stewardship agreement model will be more viable for farmers in the long term than traditional conservation covenants because it is underpinned by a fund that will provide money for conservation in perpetuity. 

Julian von Bibra
Julian von Bibra. Photo by Matthew Newton

The first participants

In June 2013 the Midlands Conservation Fund was launched at the ‘Beaufront' property of Julian von Bibra in Ross between Epping Forest and Tunbridge in Tasmania's Northern Midlands. Beaufront is one of the first ten properties to be signed up to the fund.

Landowner Julian von Bibra is conserving 190 hectares of endangered grasslands on his farm in the Northern Midlands under the fund.

The Midlands Conservation Fund means that we now have a model that is committed to conservation and farmers working together for shared goals. Essentially, conservation now has a place on the balance sheet.

 

Page Last Updated: Monday 3 June 2013

Tasmanian Midlands Landscape Project
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Quick facts

Established  2013
Participating properties 10
Location Central Eastern Tasmania

 

Thankyou

We gratefully acknowledge the very generous support of the Sidney Myer Fund, The Myer Foundation. John T Reid Charitable Trusts and the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.

This project is supported by the Australian Government's Caring for our Country program.

Caring for our Country logo


 

 

 

Our project partner

The Tasmanian Land Conservancy is our partner in the Midlandscapes project and Midlands Conservation Fund. 

Tasmanian Land Conservancy