- Charles Sturt University presented the results of a project that has evaluated the effectiveness of habitat restoration for hollow-dependent wildlife after the Black Summer Bushfires, at the 2022 National Natural Resource Management Knowledge Conference
- Researchers found that the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Project provided habitat for wildlife impacted by fires
- The project also helped rebuild hope in the community as wildlife returned
Charles Sturt University has assisted North Coast Regional Landcare to evaluate the success of habitat restoration efforts for wildlife whose habitats were wiped out by the Black Summer Bushfires in 2019-2020.
Lecturers in Environmental Management in the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences at Port Macquarie and members of the Charles Sturt Gulbali Institute of Agriculture, Water and Environment Dr Alexandra Knight, and Ms Jessica Leck evaluated the success of the program Habitat Recovery for Hollow-Dependent Fauna that created nest boxes and carved hollows for species reliant on hollow-bearing trees.
The University partnered with North Coast Regional Landcare which delivered the program funded by the Australian Government.
The Charles Sturt environmental scientists evaluated the program both ecologically and socially and developed guidelines for future nest box and artificial hollow programs. They worked closely with Landcare facilitators to develop a rigorous monitoring program across the region.
The results of their research were presented at the 2022 National Natural Resource Management Knowledge Conference on Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 November in Margaret River, Western Australia.
Dr Knight said Charles Sturt University worked with the local Landcare groups to help evaluate the benefits of installing the nest boxes to help fauna recolonise.
“We worked with Landcare groups from Port Macquarie to the Queensland border to help them assess the impact of creating and installing over 1000 nest boxes and carved hollows so that fauna has refuges to retreat to,” Dr Knight said.
“While over time bushland will often regenerate after fires, hollow trees can take hundreds of years to grow back which means the homes of hundreds of hollow-bearing animal species are decimated.”
Working closely with local Landcare representatives also made the researchers aware that the program had social benefits.
“Participants in the program spoke to us of the hope and joy that they felt when seeing wildlife starting to use the artificial hollows and nest boxes, and how working together as a community restored social connections and alleviated the stresses caused by these extreme environmental events,” Ms Leck said.
Having brought together data for over 1,100 nest boxes and hollows, the University now aims to source additional funding for ongoing monitoring of artificial hollow and evaluation of the social benefits of community-based conservation.