Coningham Nature Recreation Area (NRA) is in south-eastern Tasmania, about 25 kilometres south of Hobart.
The reserve covers cover about 490 hectatres on the coast, with Sheppards Hill being its most prominent upland feature.
The reserve has unique and diverse vegetation communities. This natural landscape, so close to surrounding urban centres and the capital city of Hobart, is a refuge for threatened plant species. The grasslands of the reserve are also of high conservation value.
There are 264 native plant species recorded for Coningham NRA. Much of the lower slopes of the reserve comprise Eucalyptus amygdalina forest and woodland. Other eucalypts include white gum, (Eucalyptus viminalis), and a small stand of blue gum (Eucalyptus globules) in the northern gully below Sheppards Hill, Eucalyptus pulchella forest on the higher sections and Eucalyptus obliqua, and Eucalyptus ovata. Allocasuarina verticillata is also found as a woodland or growing as a sub-canopy around the coastal margins of the reserve.
Threatened plant species include tailed spider orchid, heath bent grass, gentle rush, Cunningham's violet and southern pretty heath.
The vegetation values throughout much of the reserve are threatened by a heavy infestation of Erica lusitanica (Spanish heath).
The reserve is home to threatened and significant native animal species. The stands of lowland blue gum provide important spring and early summer feed for the endangered swift parrot, which only breeds in Tasmania. The white gum provides the only source of food for the endangered forty-spotted pardalote, which is limited to the southeast corner of Tasmania.
Other threatened animal species which inhabit or use the reserve include the live-bearing sea star, the Tasmanian masked owl, Chaostola skipper (a butterfly), eastern curlew, grey goshawk, white-bellied sea eagle, wedge-tailed eagle and a small breeding colony of little penguins. The reserve is also high priority habitat for the Tasmanian bettong.
The reserve also has a strong Aboriginal heritage. The area is highly valued by the Tasmanian Aboriginal community as it provides evidence of occupation and use and may have formed part of a travelling route to Bruny Island.
The shoreline that encloses the reserve on three sides consists of eroding sandstone platforms and cliff-faces with a short sandy beach on the northeast shore. The sandstone stratum is overlain at about 100 metres by dolerite.