12 cool things we learnt from the 2023 Tasmanian Community Landcare Conference

27th October 2023 | 

How mangana got their yellow cheeks... and more. A few interesting things we learnt at the 2023 Tasmanian Community Landcare Conference. 

1. How mangana (black cockatoo) got their yellow cheeks

Image: Trish Hodge storytelling in the Spring Bay Mill amphitheater. Photo credit: Yimin Liew

Under the dark night sky on Friday night, palawa woman and cultural educator Trish Hodge had the audience captivated with a rich storytelling session.  How did purinina (Tasmanian Devil) get it's markings and it's voice? Can you make the sound of piyura (native hen)? And how did mangana get their yellow cheeks?

Trish – “Sharing our culture, history and heritage is the most important part of who I am. I believe that everyone who lives in or visits lutruwita (Tasmania) should be exposed in some way to the most ancient living culture on Earth.

2. Long term commitment pays off when it comes to weeds

Images: Peter and Anne Booth on the Maria Island Field Trip. Photo credit: Jemima Phelps

Wildcare’s Friends of Maria Island demonstrated how consistent effort and a 20 year commitment has paid off in their fight against Montpellier Broom on Maria Island. "Hardly a broom plant to be found!"

Anne and Peter Booth who lead the Friends group said "Subsequent biennial checks have found little regrowth(of broom); burgeoning native species now make the site unrecognisable; it is now effectively clear...With up to five working bees a year this has been a major preoccupation for the last 18 years. We now find it very rewarding to reflect on our achievements.” Read more about the Friends of Maria Island weed control efforts here. 

3. Traditional knowledge is critical

Image: Kazuki Kagohashi presenting a case study of drought adaptation in Japan. Photo credit: Cynthia Schaap

A severe drought hit the Sanuki Plain in Japan in 1994 - to adapt, they re-introduced traditional practices that were seen as 'backwards' by modern farmers. 

These practices, coupled with water-sharing and integrated with modern water facilities assisted the community to adapt to severe drought.  Integration of local knowledge, farmer autonomy and collaboration all contributed to increased social resilience in the case of drought.  Thanks to Kazuki Kagohashi from Nanzan University, Japan for sharing this case study. How can we apply these learnings to the Tasmanian Landscape...?

4. Healing Country is essential: Lungtalanana

Image: From rruni mana-mapali, lungtalanana / Our Island Lungtalana © 

"The spirit of the land was shattered as country was pulled apart to feed the needs of colonialism. But there is always opportunity and hope, for country, and for people to return" - Andry Sculthorpe

Since 2005 the island of Lungtalanana has been handed back to the Aboriginal community, and they are spending time making Country healthy again, through traditional knowledge, re-introducing fire in the landscape, and integrating modern technology to deal with invasive species such as feral cats.  

This process of knowledge-sharing, learning about the landscape and working to heal Country has also helped to provide connection and healing to the community. Cultural, social, political, spiritual factors all guide how lands are related to by the Aboriginal community. 

"It's not just healing the country, it's healing me"

Watch the video here

5. Grazing is a big deal

Image: What's going on here? Image from Peter Ball's presentation on pasture management ©

Peter Ball from Enviro-Dynamics / Derwent Catchment Project shared the wonders of good (and bad) grazing and pasture management.  Grazing is a partnership of people, pasture and livestock that intrinsically effects the environment. Many actions combine to build, protect and graze, strong pastures. Peter talks about the community that makes up pasture: "Grass is a wonder, clover is a gift, and there are even secret herbs to add spice..."

Bad grazing is easy to picture (too short, too frequent, too much bare ground etc...), but good grazing is dependent on many factors -restricting grazing, not grazing, allowing ad lib grazing, intensive grazing... all can be good... at some point in time... 

Want to learn more? Check out the Derwent Pasture Network's Pasture Condition Tool here.

6. Dr Hamilton loves quoll puns

In David Hamilton's presentation 'Quollity & Quantity' the state of eastern quoll populations was discussed in depth.

In the last three decades there has been a 50% decline in eastern quoll numbers - but what can we do?  Translocations, and understanding why the populations are declining is a start. Ongoing work by the TLC and their research partners is addressing some of these knowledge gaps to help secure the future of eastern quolls in Tasmania. 

But first things first - what the heck is a quoll?

Image: A slide from Dr Hamilton's presentation © 


7. People think that getting arrested (for the environment) is cool 

Image: Anthony Houston's presentation. Photo credit: Cynthia Schaap

When Anthony Houston told the story of his recent arrest while protesting logging in a native forestry coup, he was met with a cheering crowd. This prominent farmer turned climate activist and member of Farmers for Climate Action is now a strong advocate for climate action amongst farmers and agricultural leaders. 

8. Access to nature increases human wellbeing...

Image: Slide from Pauline Marsh's Nature Connection presentation ©

Nature connection increases physical and mental wellbeing in humans, and thriving biodiversity directly supports human physical health too, such as our immune systems. But there are many barriers to our societies having a strong nature connection - time, access, health issues, climate change and biodiversity loss to name a few.

Image: Pauline Marsh presenting in The Tin Shed. Photo Credit: Natasha Mulhall

Pauline Marsh from the Nature Connection Project shared research on the health benefits of nature connection, and the barriers to people accessing and developing relationships with nature.  How does immersing in nature support your physical and mental health? What can we do to reduce these barriers to nature connection?

You might also be interested in checking out this podcast on biodiversity and human health by Dr Marsh's fellow researcher Dr Emily Flies. 

9. It looks like biocontrol methods are helping to curb sea spurge

Image: Generalised infection process of sea spurge by its fungal biological control agent, Venturia paralias © CSIRO

Jon Marsden Smedly of Sea Spurge Remote Area Teams (SPRATS) shared some of the results of the sea spurge biocontrol - very effective in lab conditions, but how has it fared in the Tasmanian environment? It looks like its good at killing mature plants, with a 95% reduction of seed produced by the older guys.  As for younger plants, it has been less effective at killing them, but it is suspected that once the seed bank is depleted, there should be greater reductions in sea spurge overall. 

Assuming the biocontrol is effective - how do we get more? One option - getting schools to grow it in their labs as an education project - win win! Read more about sea spurge biocontrol here. 

10. There's a dog that's better at weeding than you

Image: Melanie Kelly and detection dog Fonz. Photo Credit: Yimin Liew 

On the Coastal Landcarers field trip we got to meet and witness the skills of Fonzi, Australia's pioneer serrated tussock detection dog, showcasing his ability to detect not only serrated tussock but also Orange Hawkweed and Chilean Needlegrass.  Read more about Fonzi's conservation work here.

11. Drought resilience is the ability to adapt, reorganise and transform

Image: Slide from Lesley King's drought resilience presentation ©

How resilient are we to drought? Lesley King from the Drought Resilience And Recovery Team sought to explain some of the factors that make us more adaptive to drought and temperature changes. Helping farmers, businesses and communities better understand climate risks, adopting better land management practices, better planning and better preparing our communities are some ways to increase our resilience. 

Check out droughtready.tas.gov.au for more on Tassie's regional drought management plan and to have your say. 

12. Cultural Land Management is being used to preserve biodiversity on Bruny Island

Image: Nicole King's presentation on preserving cultural heritage through cultural land management

Nicole, Aboriginal Land Management Officer of SETAC and Kingborough Council shared some of the cultural land management work that is being done on Bruny Island.

"The island has hundred's of cultural sites, such as rock quarries, ochre sites, petroglyphs, cultural shells, living sites, mitten sites, women's places and men's places" 

Cultural land management practices such as cultural burning are being used to help reduce invasive species populations, such as feral cats, which pose a huge threat to the ecology of the island and to yolla (short-tailed shearwater) chicks. 

We also learnt that one of Nicole's favourite plants are grass trees, which can grow to be over a hundred years old, and can be used to create a powerful resin.


This is just a tiny selection of some of the interesting things we learnt from to 2023 Tasmanian Community Landcare conference weekend - it's impossible to include all of the amazing speakers, skills and learnings. 

Did you learn something awesome that's not here? Share on social media and tag us.

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IG @landcare_tasmania

Linked In @landcare-tasmania

You can also check out the blog posts below for a little more - or let us know your thoughts in the feedback from below.   

The Welcome BBQ, Dark Sky Walk and Storytelling
Awards Evening
Coastal Landcarers Field Trip
Maria Island Field Trip
Spring Bay Mill and Sea Forest Field Trip 

Conference Feedback

Let us know what you thought of the conference. We are seeking feedback from those who attended the conference and also those who didn't, so that we can improve our processes, accessibility and provide better experiences for everyone in events to come. Fill out the anonymous feedback form below to help us improve (about 15 minutes). Thank you!

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The Tasmanian Community Landcare Conference was made possible through the sponsorship of the Tasmanian Government, the National Landcare Network, and generous support from various businesses and organisations.