Our Latest News

Exciting new proposal for Tasmania's South East Cape

16/10/2017

Award-winning local tourism operator Ian Johnstone can now progress a new project to lease and licence negotiations under the Tourism Opportunities in Tasmania's National Parks, Reserves and Crown Land process.More

Wineglass Bay track upgrade complete

16/10/2017

One of Tasmania's most iconic tourism experiences, the walk to Wineglass Bay from the lookout to the beach, has now re-opened after a $500,000 upgrade initiated through the Government's Tourism Infrastructure in Parks fund.
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Tourism opportunity for Tasman Island

12/10/2017

Tourists could soon enjoy the beautiful Tasman National Park from the air, as a change to the management plan could open it up for sensitive and appropriate aircraft access.More

Coastal Vegetation

Tasmania’s extensive coastline with its many inlets, peninsulas and offshore islands provides plenty of habitat for coastal flora. The coastal flora makes up approximately 3.5% of the area of the state. Coastal rocks and soils are a dominant influence on the vegetation, along with the prevailing wind direction, marine currents and other climatic influences.

How do the plants survive?

The soils in coastal areas are usually deficient in major nutrients, high in salt spray and generally lacking in water, and consequently are very harsh environments for plants to grow in. Many plants have adapted and flourish in the harsh coastal environment. Such adaptations include:

  • an increased thickness in the leaves to protect the plant from dehydration, exposure to the sun and salt spray.
  • the ability to delay germination in response to excessive salt spray, dehydration or other environmentally harsh conditions.
  • the ability to produce very large seeds to increase the viability and vigor of their seedlings.
  • dependance on the sea for the dispersal of their seeds.
  • the ability to roll the leaves, in repsonse to heat, salt and lack of water.
  • occurence of hairs on the leaves, providing for the avoidance of heat stress, which is common in plants found close to the shore.
  • physically wirey stiff leaves and stems which enable the plants to tolerate the abrasion by salt laden winds and sands.

As well as being adapted to tolerate salt spray, coastal vegetation encounters sandy and unstable substrates in which to establish. Some species such as spinifex, actually need the ground that they grow in to move in order to promote germination. As the distance from the shore increases, the distinct adaptations of plants to tolerate coastal conditions decreases.

Different coastal communities?

Throughout Tasmania the prevailing weather and the dominant rock types provide different environements for various coastal vegetation communities. Along the west coast, where the coastline is highly active and fronts onto the southern ocean, the swell and winds often allow salt spray to carry further inland than usually occurs. The rocks in the western coast tend to be very silicious, and weather slowly containing few nutrients. Whereas the east coast tends to be fairly low energy and due ot the underlying rocks, is more fertile. Consequently the eastern and northern coasts offer habitat for many different plant communities.

Throughout the southeast of Tasmania, the dolerite provides a unique stratum that is devoid of nutrients and encounters some very harsh climatic variations. As a result many endemic plants can be found in the southwest of the state.

Dune communities

Pigface

Native Pig Face

The front side of dunes, facing the ocean swell are naturally vegetated with Pigface (Disphyma crassifolia and Capobrotus rossii) and coastal bearded heath (Leucopogon parviflorus) and an upper stratum of Banksia and Spikey bearded heath (Leucopogon australis). The lee (back) faces of the dunes carry a closed shrub of Banksia and coastal bearded heath. The more disturbed dunes have a scrub of coastal wattle (Acacia sophorae) and Prickly mimosa (Acacia verticillata).

Dune swales often have herb fields dominated by Nabolium, Pennywort species (Hydrocotyle) and club rush (Isolepsi). This vegetation offers great grazing opportunities for marsupials. Consolidated dunes inland are clothed in manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), scented paperbark (Melaleuca squarosa) and Leucopogon closed bearded heathlands. Damper depressions harbour swamp woodland species such as swamp paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia).

Coastal creatures

Many birds frequent our coastlines, for breeding and feeding. Birds such as the little penguin nest and rest on suitable sandy beaches, while the shearwaters migrate annualy to the steeper headlands to nest and breed. Hooded plovers and other shore birds nest and breed along many beaches.

Reptiles such as skinks, snakes and the blue tongue lizards can be found throughout Tasmania’s coastal areas.

Mammals that can be found in our coastal areas are numerous and include (but are not limited to) the echidna, eastern quoll, Tasmanian devil, eastern barred bandicoot, eastern grey kangaroo (Forester) as well as the New Zealand and Australian fur seals.

Fine examples of coastal plants

Throughout Tasmania much of our coastal vegetation is reserved in coastal reserves and national parks. By visiting Maria Island National Park, Freycinet National Park, and Mt William National Park a variety of different and unique coastal plant communitites can be seen. Along the north coast Rocky Cape National Park harbours the only community of saw banksia, (Banksia serrata) found in the state.

Fire and coastal vegetation

Fire tends to have a magnified effect on coastal vegetation. Burning scrub along a high energy coast can allow the coastal influence to penetrate further inland. Plants a fair distance from the coast will be subject to salt laden winds. Only following enough time protected by other plants from the coastal winds will the plants be able to grow to a tall stature. Fire is required to maintain some heath (Proteaceae, Fabaceae and Myrtaceae). Without fire the heath will develop into shrubland.

Threats to coastal vegetation

All coastal environments are part of a fragile but dynamic ecosystem. Consequently the removal of vegetation from such an environment can have far reaching effects. Such issues are brought about through grazing, inappropriate firing, building developments, recreational activities and the introduction of exotic plant and animal species.

Coastal areas are also susceptible to phytophthora (root-rot fungus), which can be carried into areas by humans via such items as shoes, tent pegs and car tyres.