A Skullbone Plains experience in nation's capital

Botanist with the Tasmanian Herbarium Lyn Cave collects mossess and liverworts on Skullbone Plains, Tasmania. Photo: Miguel De Salas

Our Bush Blitz to Skullbone Plains in Tasmania’s central highlands was a huge success — with between 520 to 550 species of plants and animals collected during the week.

Now that the fieldwork is now over, our team of 20 scientists are back in their labs identifying the specimens. This can often take many months, if not years to complete. Each specimen will be painstakingly described and documented before being entered into the collection of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Tasmanian Herbarium, as well as other museums, universities and herbaria around Australia. They will be carefully preserved and made available for research.

Back in the 'lab' nursery manager Phil Hurle prepares cuttings for transplanting into the Tasmanian garden at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Phil Hurle, nursery manager at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, has a slightly different type of collection. He has collected live specimens from over 60 species of iconic Tasmanian plants found on Skullbone Plains.  Carefully packed, the plants have made it back to the Botanic Gardens in Canberra in good condition.

Yesterday I went to meet the nursery team who are busy preparing cuttings from each species. They say it will take from 12 to 18 months before the cuttings are ready to be planted out in the Tasmanian section of the Botanic Gardens.

These plants are a beautiful addition to the Gardens and preserve living examples of many species. They are also a living scientific collection. Each individual plant is given a unique number and recorded in a database along with details of where and when it was collected. Every living plant is also complemented by a pressed and dried specimen in the herbarium.

So even if you can’t make it across the Tasman to Skullbone Plains, you can always visit a little bit of Tasmania’s central highlands at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.

Mim Jambrecina Bush Blitz team

Bush Blitz is a multi-million dollar continental biodiversity discovery partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia that aims to document the plants and animals across Australia’s National Reserve System.

Skullbone Plains is a recent addition to the National Reserve System that is managed for conservation by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.