Tasmanian Midlands

Last updated: Friday 27 May, 2016
A map showing the location of our Tasmanian Midlands Project.

Established: 2013
Participating properties:10
Location: Central Eastern Tasmania

Detailed map >

Protecting nature on productive farms

Laying between Tasmania's Eastern Tiers and Great Western Tiers is one of Australia's 15 national biodiversity hotspots – the woodlands and grassy lowland plains of the Tasmanian Midlands.

A group of Echidna's in the Tasmanian Midlands. Photo Matt Appleby.
A group of Echidna's in the Tasmanian Midlands. Photo Matt Appleby.
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

In collaboration with  the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, Bush Heritage is helping landholders protect the plants, animals and natural features of the region through the Tasmanian Midlandscapes Project – a landscape-scale conservation program in the Tasmanian Midlands.

Native grasses in the Tasmanian Midlands. Photo Matthew Newton.
Native grasses in the Tasmanian Midlands. Photo Matthew Newton.
Surrounded by mountains, the Tasmanian Midlands has lower rainfall and is ecologically distinct from the wetter regions of the west, south and north of the state. It's also much less 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 native vegetation remains, much of it degraded in some way. There's now a pressing need to protect these precious remnants.

What we're doing

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 isn't practical or appropriate.

In the Midlands there's 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 implement the Midlandscapes Project, which includes a number of initiatives designed to foster conservation on private land.


A key initiative within the 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.

The Tasmanian Midlands is a mosaic of woodlands, native grasslands and wetlands. Photo: Matthew Appleby.
The Tasmanian Midlands is a mosaic of woodlands, native grasslands and wetlands. Photo: Matthew Appleby.
Landholders who take up stewardship agreements are paid a fee for putting portions of their land toward conservation. These agreements then provide annual performance payments for meeting conservation targets. Our ecologists help identify native plants and animals, and help to develop and implement plans to protect them, which include fencing, grazing management and restoration of native vegetation.

A long-term commitment

A beautiful Waxlip Orchid. Photo Matt Appleby.
A beautiful Waxlip Orchid. Photo Matt Appleby.
Stewardship agreements are initially committed to by landowners for up to ten years with the intent that they'll be extended for rolling five-year terms.

The fund contains over $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 2016, we'll have the capacity to support many more landowners.

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

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