In December 1991 the Parks and Wildlife Service purchased a 665 hectare area of land at Epping Forest with money provided by the Commonwealth and State Governments. This was later to become the Tom Gibson Nature reserve. Tom Gibson was a former owner who kept the block intact and wished it to remain so for conservation purposes. It was Tom Gibson's son who sold the block so it could become a reserve. In 2004, through the Regional Forest Agreement process, a further 355 ha were added bringing the reserve to a total of 1020 ha.
The reserve is important because the type of dry forest and woodland found in the Midlands has mostly been cleared and of the remainder, hardly any is reserved. The block has been identified by botanists as having high conservation significance because there are many rare, threatened and previously unreserved (not known in any State Reserve) plant species on the block. Some of these plants are listed below. The area is also known to be important for the Tasmanian bettong, a species which is confined to the drier forests of the east of Tasmania.
Although the Parks and Wildlife Service had identified the purchase of a portion of the remaining Epping Forest as a priority in the early 1980s, it was the lobbying of governments by many organisations and citizens which led to purchase funds being made available. The block is small compared with the estimated 21 000 hectares of the original Epping Forest. By 1997 Epping Forest had dwindled to 14% of its extent at the time of European settlement. A Nature Reserve has the same status as a National Park but is usually reserved for outstanding scientific or natural values. Development for active recreation is not the aim in managing such areas.