South Esk Pine

Last updated: Friday 27 May, 2016
Map showing the location of South Esk Pine Reserve in Tasmania.

Established: 1998
Area: 6.8 ha
Location: 175km NE of Hobart

Detailed map >

The South Esk Pine trees growing on the banks of the Apsley River just north of Tasmania's Freycinet National Park live a precarious life.

Undergrwoth is reflected in the river on South Esk Pine Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
Undergrwoth is reflected in the river on South Esk Pine Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
They typically rely on fire to open up and release seeds, yet if those same fires are too hot or reoccur too frequently the species won't survive.

It's this sensitivity to fire and the fact that they grow on Tasmania's rich, alluvial flats, now largely cleared for agriculture, that's led to their listing as a nationally endangered species.

They're also an important part of the nationally vulnerable Black Gum – South Esk pine forest community, which has been reduced to just 600 hectares growing along the banks of a handful of Tasmania's rivers.

That's why in 1998 we stepped in to save this tiny but important patch of bushland. This reserve is among the largest stands of this sub-species left in the world. And it's now protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

What we're doing

The Aspley River on South Esk Pine Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
The Aspley River on South Esk Pine Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
We've put an end to damaging practices such as firewood collection, tree felling and the operation of a gravel pit. We're monitoring the progress of revegetation at the old gravel pit, and may trial other techniques to reach a greater diversity of species.

Access onto the reserve is discouraged to protect it from invasion by the plant-killing disease Phytophthora cinnamomi and keeping out Gorse (one of Australia's worst weeds) is vital if we're to protect the native South Esk pines from fire.

Gorse is a woody weed threatening the reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
Gorse is a woody weed threatening the reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
Past disturbances mean the reserve has been left wide open to gorse infestation. Gorse seeds can lie dormant in the soil for up to 30 years, and germinate in response to heat and soil disturbance.

When left unchecked, fire-loving gorse infestations have grown into impenetrable thickets, preventing native plant species from regenerating and increasing the risk of wild fires wiping out the remaining South Esk pines.

Thanks to a small but dedicated team working through the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, gorse has been all but removed. The task now is to remain vigilant. Future floods can bring gorse seed back, and seeds buried in the soil will remain a ticking time bomb, waiting for disturbance or fire before springing back to life.

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