Tasmania’s Bob Brown Foundation stages Tarkine BioBlitz

One of the last true wilderness places on earth - the Tarlkine, Tasmania - will see a festival of science in nature from 23-26 November, open to all who are interested in wild places and their environment.

November 15, Smithton, Tasmania. The Tarkine BioBlitz is a festival of science in nature, to be held in one of the world’s last truly wild places, the Trakine (takayna in local language). The BioBlitz aims to bring a wide variety of interested people together to discover and record as many living things as possible over several days around Smithton.

 The Tarkine, in northwest Tasmania, is one of the most unspoilt temperate wildernesses left in the world. Courtesy of Tarkine.org

The Tarkine, in northwest Tasmania, is one of the most unspoilt temperate wildernesses left in the world. Courtesy of Tarkine.org

Designed to be both practical yet enjoyable, the event aims to help anybody who has an interest in the planet, the environment and nature to explore, learn and contribute to their knowledge of biodiversity. Organised by the Bob Brown Foundation and held over three days from 23-26 November 2017, BioBlitz surveys in the field will be held from Friday morning to Sunday lunch time and will seek to provide fun, educational and meaningful experiences to the community, naturalists and scientists alike.

 Bob Brown founded the Green Movement in Australia, and successfully protected the Franklin River. Courtesy Bob Brown Foundation.

Bob Brown founded the Green Movement in Australia, and successfully protected the Franklin River. Courtesy Bob Brown Foundation.

It will bring together volunteer scientists, experts, naturalists and members of the public for a weekend of biodiversity surveys and discovery in a truly remarkable place. The Tarkine is one of the largest tracts of cool temperate rainforest in the world, and the biggest in the whole continent of Australia. It covers some 476,000 hectares of undeveloped, raw, and awe-inspiring wilderness in the northwest of Tasmania and is home to a range of utterly amazing  ancient flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth. Huge mountains, thriving groves of thousand year old trees and Jurassic Park-like rainforests as well as austere, forbidding coastlines make it a privilege to visit the Tarkine.

This year’s BioBlitz will conduct field surveys at sites across a variety of Tarkine ecosystems. The main goals of the event are to survey the biological diversity of the area and share knowledge about the strength and ecology of the region. A central base camp near Smithton on the northwest coast will provide facilities to share discoveries, identify and collate specimens, database records and, of course, rest and relax after time spent in the field. Attendees will travel out to sites each day in mini buses and car-pooling as required and organised by BioBlitz staff. Visitors can join the BioBlitz for all three days or just one day.

The base camp will be at the Riverbend Youth Centre, approximately 6km south of Smithton. Accommodation at the base camp is dormitories with shared bathroom and toilet facilities. There is also room for tents and campervans for camping.

Each day will see groups travel out to explore and discover Tarkine coast, forest and plains locations before  regrouping at Riverbend to collate results, share food, discoveries and the day’s stories. The organisers, the Bob Brown Foundation, see science as a central component to campaign for long lasting and secure protection of the Tarkine, including improving our understanding of the biodiversity of the region.

The event follows the recent proposal of a new walk to start south-west of Burnie on the north Tasmanian coast. The proposed walk will head south through the Tarkine and highlight its eucalyptus forests, button grass moorlands, mountains (especially Mount Bertha and the Norfolk Range) and the rugged north-west coastline before finishing with a cruise along the Pieman River to former logging and prospector town Corinna. The walk is seen as a 10-day experience or as two five-day walks.

Plans for the project were released in June 2017, with the objective of creating a full 100-kilometre walk route. “From a tourism aspect, the proposal sounds fantastic,” said local Tourism Association president Clint Walker. “It’s the type of development, a highly desirable attraction, that north-west Tasmania needs,” he said.