The founder of The Maria Island Walk, Ian Johnstone, has always been passionate about both showcasing and taking care of Maria Island, drawing that philosophy into his teachings and subsequently into the guides’ work. “So, rehabilitation work on the island is just something that comes naturally to the guides,” says operations manager, Ben Brown.
Tree planting on Maria Island. Image: The Maria Island Walk
“Over the years we’ve conducted bird surveys, collected marine debris, gathered and studied Tasmanian Devil scat and planted trees, alongside our guests and volunteer organisations such as Taroona Scouts.”
The tree planting work that is presently a focus was begun in 2014, and Ben explains that, since its inception, over 200 trees have been planted on Four Mile Headland, which is located about seven kilometres from Darlington and where The Maria Island Walk guests arrive on day two of the four-day walk.
Young trees plated on Maria Island. Image: The Maria Island Walk
“The mammals that live on the island, especially the grazing mammals such as wallabies and kangaroos, tend to favour the green vegetation, so if you have a few dry years in a row there are only hardy shrubs left. This loss of green vegetation not only reduces the wildlife’s food source, but it can also lead to soil loss and erosion,” Ben explains.
“A tree planting program such as the one we have undertaken can be a great help. The trees help to hold the soil together and prevent environmental degradation. The new plants also provide habitat for many of the native birds.” Two plant species – Coast Wattle and Sheoak – were selected for planting at Four Mile Headland, chosen specifically because they are the dominant trees in the area and The Maria Island Walk team wanted to replicate the natural ecosystem.
Watch - The Maria Island Walk: Our Story
Ben notes that rehabilitation work is always in motion along The Maria Island Walk, and the idea is to involve guests in various environmental programs in the future, such as weed eradication. “We are also looking at potential partnership opportunities with companies working around Maria Island,” he says. “It’s a beautiful part of Tasmania and we want to look after it.”
Related Experience - Maria Island Winter Escape
The ‘Maria Island Winter Escape’ is a three day lodge based experience which explores the beautiful and historic northern end of the island featuring abundant marsupials.