NATURAL VALUES AND CONTEXT
Each spring, the world’s entire swift parrot population returns to Tasmania. They travel from the winter feeding grounds of mainland Australia to the south-east coastal fringe of our island state. Some of them travel up to 5,000 kilometres to reach their breeding grounds.
When they arrive in Tasmania they are seeking forests for food, shelter and breeding hollows to raise their young in the months ahead. But each year the search gets harder with old trees being lost and breeding habitat on the decline. That’s why the Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) seized the opportunity to purchase and protect 150 hectares of critical forest and woodland fringing the Little Swanport River—an area that provides mature trees with abundant nesting hollows.
Protecting this habitat is the most effective first step to give the critically endangered swift parrot every opportunity for the future.
With approximately 2,000 swift parrots left in the wild, the TLC’s Head of Science Dr Sally Bryant emphasises that the threats to this precious bird are enormous and now is the time to make a real difference.
“The swift parrot could very quickly become extinct before our eyes. Protecting habitat in its core range is the most important thing we can do now to secure its future. Little Swanport provides healthy mature trees with exceptional nesting hollows to make that possible.”
— Dr Sally Bryant
The direct frontage to the Little Swanport River also allows movement between aquatic and terrestrial habitats for a variety of rare plants and wildlife. Significant species such as the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), Tasmanian bettong (Bettongia gaimardi) and spotted quail thrush (Cinclosoma punctatum) thrive in the property’s lowland woodland with eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) and eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii) found throughout the landscape.
Someone with a special understanding of the Little Swanport landscape is Mercia Bresnehan, whose family has lived and worked in the region for generations.
“Growing up, Little Swanport was part of our broader playground,” she said, adding that it made for memorable times spent camping, bushwalking and fishing for bream along the much loved Little Swanport River.
Mercia’s stories of Little Swanport add to what makes the landscape special and go hand-in-hand with what science is telling us: there is still so much to learn about the unique Little Swanport property. Yet as a keen bird watcher, Mercia expressed her growing concern for the surrounding landscape.
“Much of the land around Little Swanport has now been cleared for farming or logging,” she said.
As a long-time supporter of the TLC, Mercia was heartened to discover the TLC’s efforts to protect land at Little Swanport while reading the previous edition of our newsletter and we thank her immensely for her generous donation.
“I have a deep connection to that part of the east coast and recognise its importance; for its stands of blue gums, plants, animals, so I was thrilled to see the TLC’s campaign to protect Little Swanport,” Mercia Bresnehan.