The Tasmanian Midlands are home to one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world - temperate grasslands and grassy woodlands. The Midlands Conservation Fund brings farmers and conservationists together to help protect these species on working farms.

The Tasmanian Midlands is a working landscape that supports a robust farming region as well as being one of Australia’s 15 biodiversity hotspots.

The area is rich in plant and animal species, many of which are endemic or endangered – including 32 nationally threatened species and more than 180 plants and animals that are threatened in Tasmania.

In collaboration with Bush Heritage, the TLC is assisting landholders to protect the plants, animals and natural features of the region.

Supported by partners, the TLC’s proposed project is to establish long-term protection and management of 2,500 hectares of critically endangered lowland native grasslands and associated woodlands.

Surrounded by mountains, the Tasmanian Midlands has lower rainfall and is ecologically distinct from the wetter regions of the west, south and east of the state. It is also less well 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 vegetation remains, much of it degraded in some way. There is now a pressing need to protect these precious remnants.

A long-term commitment

Stewardship agreements are initially committed to by landowners for up to ten years with the intent that they will be extended for rolling five-year terms.

The fund contains $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 2020, we will have the capacity to support many more landowners to conserve habitat on their farms.

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

To find out more, and join in this exciting program, contact MidLandscapes Project Manager, Andrew Cameron on 03 6331 9295 or acameron@tasland.org.au

Banner photograph: Matthew Newton