Life on the edge
Lurking behind the beautiful detail of Friendly Beaches Reserve lie two threats that call for constant vigilance.
The first is the ever-present danger of the mould Phytophthora cinnamomi, also known as root rot fungus, which attacks root systems and cuts off a plant's ability to take in nutrients and survive.
Our ecologist Matt Appleby describes this disease as a destructive wave moving through the vegetation.
If Phytophthora hit these heathlands, the invasion front would show green, healthy banksia leaves turning rusty orange, and behind them would lie a field of banksias drained of colour and life, as well as other susceptible species such as grasstrees and hakeas.
The other threat is also a disease, and menaces the Tasmanian Devils that wander in and out of this reserve as they hunt for food.
Devil Facial Tumour Disease is a terrible cancer that first surfaced in 1996 among Tasmania's north-east devil population, and since then devil numbers have declined by more than 80% in all but the far north-west of Tasmania. Ongoing research into this terrible disease is critical to the future survival of the Tassie devil.