State: TAS | Hectares: 1,647 | IUCN Category: IV | Partners: Tasmanian Land Conservancy
All photos by Matt Newton
Skullbone Plains is a spectacular 1,647 hectare property with towering old growth forests, near pristine wetlands and rare moss beds in the heart of Tasmania's central highlands, adjoining the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
This former forestry property is now protected forever by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy as part of Australia's National Reserve System - our nation's most secure way of protecting native habitat.
The property was purchased in 2011 with just over one million dollars from the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative and the generous private donations from the Australian community.
Skullbone Plains is a remarkable mix of open valleys, old-growth forests, woodlands, wetlands, bogs, moorlands, heathfields and grasslands. Extensive eucalypt woodlands cover vast swaths of the reserve providing habitat for top predators including the Tasmanian wedge-tail eagle, the white-bellied sea eagle, the pure white grey goshawk and Tasmanian masked owl. These raptors are all declining in Tasmania and have very little habitat protected elsewhere in formal reserves.
These diverse ecosystems are home to four nationally threatened species. Endangered grassland paper daisies dot the highland poa grassland and grassy sedgeland and the Tasmanian devil and spotted tail quoll roam the forests, grasslands and heath.
Near pristine streams, free of the predatory introduced brown trout, support one of Australia's oldest freshwater fish, the nationally endangered Clarence galaxias. This small galaxias with irregular brown patches on its back and sides is now found in only six isolated locations in central Tasmania.
The streams flow though one of the property's most prized environments, the richest sphagnum moss beds in Tasmania - almost 100 hectares of threatened alpine sphagnum bogs and fens. The spaghnum moss beds on Skullbone Plains contain fascinating standing wave structures unknown anywhere else on earth.
Rich grasslands dominate the property and are interspersed with flowering herb fields, wetlands and moorlands - providing stunning views to complement the ancient glacial landscape.
Skullbone Plains is a nationally significant sub-alpine refuge for endangered animals and ecosystems - but equally importantly, it forms a crucial link with the adjoining Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the Walls of Jerusalem National Park and other conservation reserves. Together they provide large, contiguous corridors of protected areas that will help species adapt to climate change and make them more resilient to other threats.
As part of its management program, the Tasmanian Land Conservancy will carry out extensive surveys to get a detailed picture of the animals and plants that live there. This information will provide an important baseline to help manage biodiversity and ensure Skullbone Plains is managed forever as a world class nature reserve.
The New Leaf Project
Skullbone Plains is the first property in the Tasmanian Land Conservancy's ambitious conservation strategy to purchase and conserve almost 28,000 hectares of native forests.
The New Leaf Project is a huge land acquisition project, stretching to properties of ancient old-growth rainforests in the north-east, sweeping landscapes of tall trees, lakes and wild rivers in the central highlands and intimate forested valleys in the southern midlands.
With its 16 kilometre boundary with the Tasmanian World Heritage Area and high ecological connectivity, Skullbone Plains forms a crucial part of the New Leaf Project.
For more information about Skullbone Plains and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy please visit: tasland.org.au
For more information about Australia's National Reserve System please visit: environment.gov.au/parks/nrs