In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Circular Head farmers ran beef cattle down the Tarkine coast, and then swam the cattle across the Pieman River to be sold to miners from the bustling township of Zeehan. Historically, some of the Northern parts of this coastline were declared a Crown Agistment area to provide agistment for Circular Head farmers. However, we now know that cattle agistment in this sensitive coastal region has caused and continues to cause significant damage to native vegetation, the sand dune systems, wildlife habitat and Aboriginal sites.

The effects of the trampling hooves of cattle quite significantly erodes the fragile coastal vegetation and sand-dune systems. Cattle also drag weeds and diseases into this region, whilst impacting on creeks and waterways. Grazing is also thought to have an impact on the highly endangered Orange-bellied parrot. Cattle favour succulent and seeding coastal plants that are important for the parrot. In most cases, the entire food resource is destroyed soon after cattle are released onto runs. The reduction of this food resource for the migrating birds may reduce fitness of the birds and force them to use lower quality food or travel greater distances in search of food.

The coastal dunes of the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area contain high densities of Aboriginal heritage places. Wind and water erosion are constant threats to these cultural sites and the effect is amplified when stabilising vegetation is disturbed and damaged by cattle. Direct physical impact on sites by cattle is sometimes locally severe.

Wetlands in and around the Tarkine’s coastal region have also been and continue to be damaged by cattle agistment. (PWS 2000) Whilst it is important that we treasure and celebrate the fascinating history of the pioneering cattle-drivers who drove cattle down the coastline of this windswept and storm-battered part of the world more than a century ago – now that we know the damage that cattle cause to fragile coastal ecosystems – it is time to move the cattle back off the coastline and onto the farmland North and east of the Tarkine coast, and allow the coastline to recover.

A refuge for the Devil

The Tarkine is the home to the last disease free population of the Tasmanian Devil. The Tasmanaian Devil is being pushed to extinction by the fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease. This disease has been estimated to have killed 80% of the Tasmanian Devil population in the past decade. As such the habitat of the Tarkine is critical to survival of this iconic species in the wild. Threats such as mining, logging and roading place the future of the Devil at risk.

New mines for the Tarkine?

New mines are being proposed for the Tarkine, and the campaign to prevent this onslaught of destruction is heating up. Many of these mines are Pilbara style open cut mines. Early successes in this campaign have seen off mine proposals at Keith River, Riley Creek and Nelson Bay River, but Venture Minerals are intending to press ahead with their proposed tin mine at Mt Lindsay. We will continue the fight to prevent this tragedy.