Since 2000, the TCT (initially with the Marine & Coastal Community Network) has been running a series of projects focusing on the conservation of Tasmania's offshore islands. Most of these are weeding projects, removing African boxthorn from the Furneaux Group of Islands. Other weeds have also been tackled, in different regions of Tasmania, including sea spurge and Cape Leuwin wattle.
In 2003, the Marine & Coastal Community Network, working in conjunction with the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service (PWS), produced a series of management plans for some of Tasmania's offshore islands. As an adjunct to this project, a companion website called Islandcare was established to promote the values of these reserves and the management objectives of each island (82 islands in total). Last year the website was taken offline due to software incompatibility with the new web platform that PWS had developed.
Friends of the Bass Strait Islands (Wildcare), the TCT and Birds Tasmania have recently received Commonwealth funding through the Caring for our Country initiative to update the old website and develop a different hosting arrangement, which will be accessed through the Wildcare website. The objective is to triple the number of represented islands by including all the island conservation reserves of Tasmania, whether they are the subject of a tailored management plan or not. It is expected that over 100 new island Conservation Areas will be created when the recommendations of the Crown Land Assessment and Classification (CLAC) project are finally implemented and previously unallocated Crown land islands are upgraded to reserve status. The focus of this Caring for our Country grant is to give a web presence to Tasmanian islands that do not have a permanent resident population. Large islands such as King, Flinders and Bruny will not be featured.
The website will contain a brief description of each island, relevant natural or cultural values (where information is available) and any threats to individual island values, such as weeds or feral animals. Most island entries will have links to a specific Wikipedia page where users of the website can add information if desired. Coordinates will be available on the website, which will allow people to view images of islands through free software such as Google Maps or Google Earth, or through other similar providers. There will also be a companion Islandcare Facebook page to act as a vehicle for general user feedback.
During the last decade we have seen the formation of Friends groups, mainly through Wildcare, initiating extensive activity on some of Tasmania's iconic islands such as Maatsuyker, Deal, Tasman, Maria and Schouten and working in partnership with the Parks & Wildlife Service, but there are still many islands that do not have an individual Friends group.
Friends of the Bass Strait Islands was formed last year to focus on the dozens of islands in the Furneaux Group but the management task is immense and most Tasmanian islands would be fortunate to receive even one management visit during the course of a year. The website will encourage people to join existing islands’ Friends groups or establish new ones where relevant. It is expected that the new website will be online by the middle of 2011.