Alpine vegetation is found above the limit of trees, in treeless areas and among subalpine forests. It is less than 2 metres tall. The alpine vegetation of Tasmania is extremely unusual globally in that most of it is dominated by small-leaved shrubs or hard cushion plants. However, there are also substantial areas of Tasmanian alpine vegetation that are dominated by grasses, herbs or sedges.
Where to see alpine vegetation
There are several places in Tasmania where alpine vegetation can be seen from the road, including Mt Barrow, Ben Lomond, Mt Wellington, Mt Field (Wombat Moor), Hartz Mountains, and the Central Plateau (Lake Ada Road, Lake Mackenzie Road, Lake Highway and Poatina Road).
Biodiversity values of alpine vegetation
The international biodiversity significance of Tasmanian alpine vegetation has been recognised by its almost complete reservation within the World Heritage Area and other reserves. However, there is some alpine vegetation that is significant for its rare or threatened species that occurs on private land. This is alpine vegetation that occurs below the climatic tree line on basaltic soils. Refer to Threatened Species for more information.
Management issues in alpine vegetation
The two issues for management of alpine vegetation on private land are fire and stock grazing.
A combination of burning and stock grazing lead to severe erosion, a loss of some native species, and the long-term promotion of unpalatable species. Unfortunately, stock grazing without fire also leads to increased areas of bare ground in alpine vegetation. The removal of stock from such areas has increased the vegetation cover at a rate of 1% per year. Research has shown that both fire and grazing, and especially a combination of the two, should be excluded from alpine vegetation managed for biodiversity.
Even if your alpine vegetation is not being managed for biodiversity you will need to exclude stock from already eroded areas if you do not wish to destroy the soils on which your stock ultimately depend.