Overlooking Frederick Henry Bay on the Tasman Peninsula, this 425 hectare property is almost entirely covered in a rich mosaic of native vegetation, including seven threatened vegetation communities - a diversity of threatened vegetation greater than on any other TLC reserve.

One of these is of particular note. The community ‘Tasmanian forests and woodlands dominated by black gum or Brookers gum (Eucalyptus ovata/E. brookeriana)’ is listed as critically endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This community typically occurs in small patches of less than two hectares, usually watercourses and drainage lines in farming areas that have been extensively cleared for agriculture. Under these conditions, the community is rarely in good condition and is generally highly modified and weed infested. At Sloping Main, black gum forest and woodland is in beautiful condition and covers around 40 hectares of this property. As a reserve, Sloping Main will make a substantial contribution to the protection of this critically endangered ecosystem, as well as protecting habitat that could support another 19 threatened flora and fauna species.

Sloping Main. Photo: Andy Townsend

Sloping Main contains one of the best examples of remnant of coastal forest in south-east Tasmania. Its beautiful freshwater wetlands covered in aquatic plants are equally impressive. The vegetation is complex and diverse, with an understorey rich in coastal heaths, bush peas, orchids, sedges, and daisies. Seven of the vegetation communities on the property are listed as threatened in Tasmania, which is exceptional. This includes a significant area of Eucalyptus ovata (black gum) forest which is listed as Critically Endangered at a national level. Large patches of black gum forest in good condition are extremely rare in Tasmania, especially in the south-east of the state. The property also includes good areas of Eucalyptus amygdalina (black peppermint) forest on sandstone, a threatened vegetation community not found in any of TLC’s other permanent reserves, making it a very high priority for protection.

TLC Conservation Ecologist Joe Quarmby

Sloping Main. Photo: Andy Townsend

This area is also vitally important as a safe haven for mammals. The Tasman Peninsula is home to one of the last remaining populations of Tasmanian devils that is free of devil facial tumour disease. The peninsula has been isolated from the Tasmanian mainland since 2013, meaning the area supports a population of cancer-free devils with a spread of age classes not seen on many other parts of the island. The property is also wonderful habitat for spotted-tailed quolls – this animal has suffered widespread declines on the mainland and we are keen to stop quolls suffering the same fate in Tasmania.

Excitingly, there is potential for the property to provide a refuge for one of Tasmania’s most cryptic and least understood mammal species – the Tasman Peninsula dusky antechinus (Antechinus vandycki). This species was only described in 2015, its distribution on the peninsula is poorly mapped and almost no research has been conducted into the species’ distribution or occurrence in the western end of the peninsula. The antechinuses that have been found live in sclerophyll forest, with dense understorey and suitable denning habitat, such as fallen logs – habitat that is plentiful at Sloping Main.

Sloping Main. Photo: Eddie Safarik

Intact ecosystems like the one at Sloping Main give us the opportunity to protect the full spectrum of Tasmania’s marsupial carnivore community, from the Tasmanian devil at the top end right down to the little antechinuses.

Dr David Hamilton, TLC Conservation Ecologist

Tasmanian devil. Photo: Matt Palmer

Thanks to the diversity of vegetation and the sweeping coastline that borders the property, this is also excellent habitat for avian predators, including white-bellied sea eagles, grey goshawks and wedge-tailed eagles.

The property is rich in connecting habitat between the coastal saltmarsh to the west and more densely forested areas within Sloping Main to the north and east. These habitats are critical to predators and prey alike: small animals have the chance to forage in more open areas where food is plentiful (and where they may themselves become food) but where they are also near habitat with a thicker understory where they can safely hide.

Sloping Main. Photo: Eddie Safarik

This has long been a place where people have loved nature. Land for Wildlife properties are scattered across the Tasman Peninsula, and some of the most spectacular conservation properties the TLC has sold through its revolving fund are found nearby. The property is bordered by popular Lime Bay State Reserve to the north, Coal Mines Historic Site to the east and private nature reserves to the south. This reserve will join the peninsula’s public and private reserves and make a significant contribution to the conservation of the Tasman Peninsula’s landscape.