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Ecologist Matt Appleby works with landholders in the Midlands Photo: Annette Ruzicka
Ecologist Matt Appleby works with landholders in the Midlands Photo: Annette Ruzicka

Tasmanian Midlands




7,500 ha

Participating properties:



Central Eastern Tasmania

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.

Surrounded by mountains, the Tasmanian Midlands has lower rainfall and is ecologically distinct from the wetter regions in the west, south and north of the state.

The area is home to 32 nationally threatened species and more than 180 plants and animals threatened in Tasmania. It’s also a refuge for animals now lost from or struggling on the mainland, including the Eastern BettongSpotted-tail Quoll and Eastern Barred Bandicoot.

A rich farming region dotted with convict-era farmhouses, and interspersed with a patchwork of woodlands and grasslands, it’s an environment under-represented in National Parks and other conservation areas.

At 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 allowed sheep grazing estates to be quickly established on native pastures – a form of farming that left the native ecosystems relatively intact.

Native grasses in the Tasmanian Midlands. Photo Matthew Newton.

White Gum forest in the Tasmanian Midlands. Photo Matt Appleby.

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. In collaboration with the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, our Midlandscapes project is helping landholders protect the plants, animals and natural features of the region on productive farms.

What the Midlandscapes Project protects

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 Spider Orchid (critically endangered), Pungent and Golfers Leek Orchids (critically endangered), Silky Bush Pea (vulnerable in Tasmania), Tunbridge Buttercup (endangered).

Vegetation communities: Lowland native grasslands, Ephemeral wetlands, White Gum grassy forest.

What we’re doing

Most native vegetation in the Tasmanian Midlands is privately owned, and many 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 collaboration with landholders and the Tasmanian and Australian governments, Bush Heritage and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy work together to implement the Midlandscapes Project, designed to foster conservation on private land.

Ecologist Matt Appleby working with landowner Sam Riggall. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

A key initiative within the project is the innovative Midlands Conservation Fund, which provides stewardship payments to farmers 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. These agreements then provide annual performance payments for meeting conservation targets.

Our ecologists help identify native plants and animals, and help develop and implement plans to protect them, which include fencing, grazing management and restoration of native vegetation.

The first participants

In June 2013 the Midlands Conservation Fund was launched at the ‘Beaufront’ property of Julian von Bibra at Ross in Tasmania’s Northern Midlands. Julian is conserving 190 hectares of endangered grasslands and woodlands on his farm under the fund.

“The Midlands Conservation Fund means we now have a model that’s committed to conservation and farmers working together for shared goals,” said Julian.

“Essentially, conservation now has a place on the farm balance sheet.”

Julian von Bibra at a fenceline between pasture and native grassland. Photo Matthew Newton.

The Critically Endangered Black-tipped Spider Orchid. Photo Matt Appleby.

A long-term commitment

Landowners initially commit to stewardship agreements for up to 10 years with the intention of extending for rolling 5-year terms.

Since its establishment in 2013, the fund has raised $3.7 million through private donations. It’s now supporting 15 Midlands farmers to protect 7500 hectares of high-conservation value land.

Generous donors include the Sidney Myer Fund and the Myer Foundation, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and others.

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.

Species of the Midlands


Stories from the Midlands

Sheep on a Tasmanian midlands farm.

BUSHTRACKS 27/03/2023

Lessons from the Midlands

A decade of collaboration between landholders, the Tasmanian Land Conservancy and Bush Heritage.

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BUSHTRACKS 13/04/2020

Farming for the future

On a farm in the Tasmanian Midlands, Simon Cameron is proving that conservation and superfine wool production can go hand-in-hand.

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BLOG 30/04/2018

Bringing fire back to Tassie Midlands

I was recently at Beaufront, a stunning property owned by farmer and private conservationist Julian von Bibra in the Tasmanian Midlands, working alongside University of Tasmania on an innovative new fire experiment that we hope will give us some insights into the effects of fire and grazing on vegetation composition and structure.

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BUSHTRACKS 13/06/2017

A biodiversity hotspot

At first sight, the dry landscape of the Tasmanian Midlands seems an unlikely contender for the title of ‘National Biodiversity Hotspot’. There are only 15 of these hotspots in Australia; areas with high concentrations of species that are endemic (unique) to each region, and which are threatened with destruction. So what makes the Midlands one of them?

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BUSHTRACKS 13/06/2017

Caring for the land

At the heart of the Tasmanian Midlands conservation project are the men, women and children on whose land the future of the Tasmanian Midlands hangs. For many of them, caring for the bush is not only second nature; it’s also a responsibility and a necessity.

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BUSHTRACKS 13/06/2017

Farming for change

Since 2012, Bush Heritage and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy have been working with farmers to restore the Tasmanian Midlands. Now, our efforts are starting to take root.

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BUSHTRACKS 13/06/2017

Paying the way to conservation

What do you do if you want to protect the natural bush on your land, while at the same time making a living off it as a 4th-generation Tasmanian farmer?

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BUSHTRACKS 13/06/2017

Standing in the way of extinction

For some threatened creatures, the grassy plains and woodlands of the Tasmanian Midlands are the only refuges they have left. That’s why we’re trying to save them.

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BLOG 23/11/2016

Ants on the move

At a partnership property in Tasmania's northern midlands I came across a White Gum with ants just erupting out of the crevices. It's a common enough phenomenon at this time of year, but no less fascinating to notice.

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BLOG 06/08/2016

Kirsty studies microbats

Kirsty Dixon will change your tune about bats. The University of Tasmania PhD candidate is studying microbats that call the Tasmanian Midlands home. The eight bat species in Tasmania are all forest dwelling – during the day they roost under bark and in old tree hollows.

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BLOG 05/08/2016

Studying bettongs & bandicoots

In the Midlands of Tasmania there are five bettongs named Egbert, Percy, Dot, Cyril and Maud. They're not pets, but they wear collars. They're not criminals, but Riana Gardiner tracks their every move. Riana is a PhD candidate from the University of Tasmania. She's one of five students investigating how native animals feed, move and avoid predators in the Midlands, a fragmented landscape. Riana has chosen to focus on Eastern Bettongs.

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BLOG 04/08/2016

Kirstin studies bettongs & quolls

Kirstin Proft is enamoured by all things bettong. She's a PhD student from the University of Tasmania. She describes Bettongs as 'weird and wonderful things... charismatic little animals, each with their own personality'.

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BLOG 03/08/2016

Glen Bain studies woodland birds

When Glen Bain moved to Hobart to start his PhD, he quickly learned the calls of the 12 bird species endemic to (only found in) Tasmania, like the Green Rosella and the Yellow-throated Honeyeater. Many other Tasmanian bird species are migratory – flying across Bass Strait to the mainland over winter.

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BLOG 02/08/2016

Studying quolls, cats & devils

Rowena Hamer walks through the supermarket with a trolley full of Seafood Basket, a cheap cat food. While she claims she looks like a crazy cat lady, the PhD candidate insists that it's all in the name of research. Rowena is one of five researchers from the University of Tasmania investigating the animals that live in the Tasmanian Midlands, one of Bush Heritage's priority landscapes.

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BLOG 01/08/2016

Ecology in the Tassie midlands

The Tasmanian Midlands is a patchwork of colours. White sheep are peppered across a paddock. There are red roofs, silver sheds, and swathes of brown soil, cultivated for crops. The patches of remnant native vegetation appear various shades of green. From a hill top, it’s all rather bucolic.

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BUSHTRACKS 21/12/2015

Landmark project looks to continue growth

The Tasmanian Midlands is a biodiversity hotspot, and refuge for dozens of nationally threatened species and nearly 200 plants and animals threatened in Tasmania.

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