Zoodoo is set on the hinterlands of the Coal River Tier a beautiful bushland backdrop directly adjoining the zoos rear boundary. Situated between the towns of Tea Tree and Richmond this 2000 acres of dry forest woodland clads the western escarpment of the Coal River Tier. Zoodoo is the current custodian of 15% of this significant patch of threatened vegetation, the remaining 85% of native vegetation on the Tier persists spread across 13 separate titles, predominately zoned as Environmental Living.
Towering above the zoo, the Tiers forested slopes are now isolated from neighbouring bushland patches in the region by adjoining human modified environs. The bushland has become an island adrift in a sea of agriculture. After a preliminary assessment of the site by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy's Land for Wildlife program, the refuge has been found to hold some significant biodiversity values.
Early results of monitoring in the refuge with automatic wildlife detection cameras have identified multiple individual endangered Tasmanian Devils and vulnerable Spotted tailed quolls living on the Tier, and active Wedge-tailed Eagle nest, Eastern-barred Bandicoots and possibly Tasmanian Bettongs. Other mammals in residence include echidnas, Wallabies, pademelons, brushtail and Ringtail possums, Long-eared bats, Southern Brown Bandicoots and Wombats.
Two of the four vegetation communities documented are threatened. Southern Blue Gum Eucalyptus globulus dry forest, listed as vulnerable, covers the steeply sloping hills Tasmanian Threatened Native Vegetation Communities. Native grassland dominated by kangaroo grass Themeda triandra occupies lower slopes and this is listed as critically endangered under the EPBCA 1999.
The Eucalyptus globulus (Blue gum) dry forest on the tier is predominantly found on dolerite ridges, slopes and flats in the east and south-east of the Tasmania and has a Tasmania-wide extent of 49 000 acres. This distinctive habitat of dry forest woodland is relatively poorly reserved, only 25% of currently remaining stands are within the secure National Reserve System. Throughout its range, dry Blue gum communities have been subject to extensive land clearance for agriculture and plantation and timber harvesting. The dry forest of the Coal River Tier persists with around 2000 acres (4% of the entire remaining vegetation community). The value of this 4% is further enhanced by the fact that the average remaining patch size is only 37 acres with 71% being less than 25 acres, most patches are 2 - 12 acres in size.
Zoodoo envisions protecting and managing the zoos 300 acres for its natural values. Developing innovative approaches engaging the community, zoo visitors and students in this exciting project will be instrumental in defining future directions for Zoodoo. Early stages of planning are underway to chart the steps towards achieving this vision for the land and the greater Coal River Tier along with the entire catchment of Pages Creek. The Zoo has joined the Land for Wildlife program of the Tasmanian Land Conservancy as a first step toward this.
Some neighbouring properties along the Tier have also recognised the natural values of this vegetation with a conservation covenant on one 320 acre title and a Land for Wildlife block on another 55 acre one. The Zoo hopes to seek further collaboration with the aim of promoting the protection and management of this valuable native forest remnant.
As a part of aspirations of reaching out to engage our community the zoo is in partnership with the Understorey Network – a community based association involved in propagating understorey species native to the area for revegetation programs. It is the zoos vision to see areas of the Pages Creek catchment, the Coal River Tier and the creek itself, revegetated to provide habitat for wildlife whilst taking along our community for the journey of restoration and recovery of the area.