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A new reserve in the Liffey Valley

Guest bloggers
Published 26 Apr 2022 
by Michael Bretz (Regional Reserve Manager) 
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Mixed Swamp Gum wet sclerophyll forest on the shelf of Dry's Bluff. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.<br/> Mixed Swamp Gum wet sclerophyll forest on the shelf of Dry's Bluff. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.
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View from Oura Oura Reserve, looking towards Glovers' Flat. Photo Amelia Caddy.<br/> View from Oura Oura Reserve, looking towards Glovers' Flat. Photo Amelia Caddy.
View from Oura Oura to Dry’s Bluff with Glover’s Flat between.<br/> View from Oura Oura to Dry’s Bluff with Glover’s Flat between.
Towering White Gum trees on the new reserve. Photo Michael Bretz.<br/> Towering White Gum trees on the new reserve. Photo Michael Bretz.

The area on the map of Tasmania’s Liffey Vally that’s referred to as Glovers Flat is a stunning plateau that nestles beneath the towering cliff that is Drys Bluff (Taytitikitha). The plateau includes our existing Drys Bluff Reserve and a 94-hectare property that borders our Oura Oura Reserve.

My first visit to the 94-hectare property known to the Liffey locals as the “Buddhist Block” was with former owner Laurie Reiner. He’d contacted Bush Heritage to offer us the first option to purchase the property from him and his wife Judith. They wanted to move to Queensland to be closer to family but loved the property dearly. They were very interested in the conservation work that Bush Heritage does and were keen to see the property protected in perpetuity.

Laurie and Judith are members of the Tasmanian Buddhist Community, which undertakes an annual pilgrimage to the property where it has built a small Buddhist stupa (a mound for relics).

We were very excited to take ownership of this new Glovers Flat Reserve as it’s an important piece of the Liffey landscape and is our first Tasmanian land purchase in decades.

It’s rare to find such large areas of critically endangered Black Gum forest these days and we’re very lucky to be able to add this missing piece to connect up our Oura Oura and Drys Bluff Reserves.

When Judith and Laurie purchased the property 20 years ago, they held regular working bees to eradicate weeds such as ragwort, foxgloves and thistles. The working bees had a huge impact on the property and the Buddhist community. The work paid off and during a pre-purchase survey by myself and Bush Heritage ecologist Nick Fitzgerald, just one lone foxglove plant was found - testament to a committed group of volunteers.

Prior to Laurie and Judith purchasing the property, Bob Brown who founded Bush Heritage on this site 30 years ago, and resided for many years at Oura Oura, recalls meeting with the former owner, a local saw-miller who had planned to clear-fell the site.

Bob and members of the local community met with him in the kitchen at Oura Oura and pleaded with him not to log the property. A compromise was reached and the saw-miller selectively logged the property instead of clear-felling it, which resulted in many old-growth trees being retained.

Naturally, Bob was thrilled to see this block in our hands.

“This purchase gives a life-saving integrity and wholeness to an expanse of the Liffey Valley’s river-to-mountain ecosystem, which is truly magnificent,” said Bob. “Congratulations to every Bush Heritage supporter who has helped secure the White Goshawks nesting up there! I am delighted.”

These days as you drive up the track to the property you’re greeted by huge overhanging canopies of ancient and gnarled Stringybarks (Eucalyptus obliqua) that provide essential habitat for hollow-nesting fauna. Large areas of Black Gums occupy areas of damp clay soils and in the riparian areas there are small pockets of rainforest with upper canopies of White Gums (Eucalyptus viminalis).

The northern edge of the property is relatively untouched and old Peppermint Gums (Eucalyptus amygdalina) shroud the boundary before the plateau drops away steeply down to our Oura Oura Reserve. These forest types provide essential habitat for Tasmania’s large carnivores; Tasmanian Devils and Spotted Tailed Quolls.

Above the plateau in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, is an incredible sandstone band that runs the length of the Great Western Tiers (Kooparoona Niara). These areas of sandstone formed overhangs and caves that were occupied by local Aboriginal groups prior to European settlement.

One of the first tasks on our list as new owners of the property is to work with the Traditional Owners to conduct cultural heritage surveys to understand more about the cultural landscape.

Bush Heritage greatly appreciates the generous support of the The Alerce Trust, who gifted the cost of the property, and all our wonderful donors and supporters for helping to make our ongoing management work in the Liffey Valley possible.

Mixed Swamp Gum wet sclerophyll forest on the shelf of Dry's Bluff. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.<br/> Mixed Swamp Gum wet sclerophyll forest on the shelf of Dry's Bluff. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.
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View from Oura Oura Reserve, looking towards Glovers' Flat. Photo Amelia Caddy.<br/> View from Oura Oura Reserve, looking towards Glovers' Flat. Photo Amelia Caddy.
View from Oura Oura to Dry’s Bluff with Glover’s Flat between.<br/> View from Oura Oura to Dry’s Bluff with Glover’s Flat between.
Towering White Gum trees on the new reserve. Photo Michael Bretz.<br/> Towering White Gum trees on the new reserve. Photo Michael Bretz.