Free Storm Recovery Habitat Kits a success
Published on 30 August 2022
Last month Moorabool’s Storm Recovery Team, in partnership with DELWP and Landcare Victoria, offered free Storm Recovery Habitat Kits to residents impacted by the June 2021 major storm.
The kits included tree saplings, native plants, bee hotels and nest boxes, to assist our local flora and fauna to recover from the storm’s lasting devastation.
Many animals who rely on tree hollows lost their homes during the storm. Native species impacted in Moorabool include brush-tailed phascogales, greater gliders, powerful owls, barking owls and feather-tailed gliders. Installing nest boxes gives these species and others like them somewhere safe to live while new trees grow.
Over fifty residents attended a workshop at Spargo Creek Mineral Springs in July to collect their kits and hear from Landcare experts.
Juliet and Miles from Bullarto South, located on the border of Moorabool Shire, took part in the Habitat Kit program because their 20-acre property was hit hard by the storm. Juliet volunteers for a local wildlife shelter, and both she and Miles are passionate about caring for any critter who calls their property home.
The first thing they did with their kit was plant some of the native grasses as ground cover near the entrance of their property.
“We've planted mostly Poa Labillardieri (Silver Tussock) because we’re trying to get a Poa mat going on the ground," said Juliet.
“We’ve also put in tea trees because this area had lots of the mid-size cover, so all of the Pardalotes and the smaller birds had lots of habitat here and it all just got squashed with the fallen trees.
“You couldn’t even move in here as we had about 10 trees come down right across the drive. It all just got flattened, everything got flattened.”
Juliet and Miles also planted some blackwood saplings that they received as part of their kit, but they’ve had trouble with some hungry locals!
“One of our blackwoods just got totally munched,” said Juliet.
“Wombats, roos and wallabies are eating them. We’ve got a lot of critters around the place, which is great, that’s the idea! But they’re hungry because as you can see there’s not a lot of feed at the moment.”
Juliet and Miles are planning to put up three nest boxes that they received through the Habitat Kit program.
“We already have quite a few birds and things that nest here. But because we lost some massive trees as well as a lot of smaller ones, we lost some hollows.
“We’ve got Rosellas nesting in one tree, so we’re going to put the boxes up around there.”
We asked Moorabool Landcare Network Facilitator, Roger McRaild, to share some tips and tricks regarding habitat and environmental recovery following the storm:
1. Keeping kangaroos, wallabies and wombats away from new plants
Roger says this is a very common issue. The main options are guards, fences or deterrents.
Guards come in many shapes and sizes including:
- Large wire mesh guards like the commercially available ones. These can be effective against cattle, wallabies etc and are reusable, but can be expensive and difficult to install.
- Smaller fences – these can make it too hard to bother for the browsing animal. Note that these can be expensive and difficult to install also.
Browsing deterrents such as Sen-Tree can be sprayed onto the foliage of seedlings.
These products include a grit that is unpalatable and an odorant so that they associate the smell with the grit and leave them alone.
Suppliers for guards and deterrents:
2. How to install a nest box without damaging your tree
This is an area where things aren't absolute, says Roger. There are a number of ways.
According to Roger, nailing a tree causes very little harm to the tree, especially when compared with the type of impact a koala’s claws, possum scratching or parrot bark stripping can have. The more extreme of these impacts can actually be what hastens the formation of natural hollows in a tree for future habitat, so can be a valuable part of a functioning ecosystem.
Springs or strapping
Springs and other fasteners can be a good option but are more prone to failure in the field, so Roger cautions that these should be periodically checked and maintained as necessary. They can cause bark injury too if they move or the installation is ineffective.
Nails are relatively set and forget and seemed to be the simplest, lowest risk answer suited to the diversity of people involved with this program.
3. How to monitor the wildlife using your nest box
Leave enough habitat
- Fallen timber is an important resource for things like antechinus and lizards. Fallen trees with a big enough diameter can be left if you wish to do so.
Control opportunist weeds
- There are best practice control manuals for many of the most problematic weeds such as blackberry. Weeds of the Moorabool Shire is a good place to start.
Learn about local species
- Engage with local Landcare groups.
- Be patient, observe and engage with the community.