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East Gippsland conservationists using chainsaws to protect bushfire impacted Southern Greater Gliders secure $118,000 Landcare funding

After the worst fires in history tore through the region two years ago, East Gippsland landcarers using chainsaws to create habitat for threatened Southern Greater Gliders have scored $118,000 in Landcare support.

Funded by the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants, not-for-profit organisation Growling Grass Frog have partnered with Treetec, whose specialist team of ecologists and arborists work together to create chainsaw-carved hollows for the threatened native species which rely on them for survival.

Volunteers monitoring

During the 2019/2020 bushfires, 59% of the forests and coastal ecosystems of East Gippsland burnt at high or very high severity, impacting many hollow-using species; the vulnerable Southern Greater Glider lost 32% of habitat across their Victorian ranges, and both Gang Gang and Glossy Black Cockatoos lost more than half of their ranges to high severity fire.

Stressing the importance of the project, Geoffrey Dunstan from Growling Grass Frog said “Funding from the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants will provide the support and resources necessary to install these highly valuable introduced dens and habitats across the region”.

Tree hollows are generally formed over hundreds of years, introducing carved hollows provides an immediately available solution and much needed habitat for bushfire affected wildlife.

chainsaw-carved hollows

“My research has shown that nest boxes can get too hot for animals to occupy, whereas the internal temperatures of introduced hollows fluctuate much less and provide a more stable refuge from heat and cold similar to natural hollows.” explained Dr Jo Isaac, senior ecologist at Treetec. “Our preliminary results also indicate that carved hollows require less maintenance than nest boxes and have a much longer life-span, making them a more cost-effective conservation choice.”

Growling Grass Frog have already created habitat in East Gippsland for microbats, native bees and the endangered Watson’s Tree Frog. By 2022, with support from the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants, they will have installed at least 2,000 hollows and refuges in Victoria to benefit the recovery of priority species, including Southern Greater Gliders. The carved hollows will be placed in the East Gippsland landscape according to species occurrence records and known habitat preferences, in areas including Errinundra, Mallacoota, Mount Raymond, Gippsland Lakes and Cabbage Tree Creek.

Chainsaw Carved Hollow

Growling Grass Frog are also conducting additional research and long-term monitoring of the hollows, including measuring the temperature inside the hollows to determine how they stand up in extreme heats and bushfire. The team will also be installing remote cameras to track animal activity at select hollows, and deploying small passive acoustic monitors called “Audio Moths” to track Yellow-Bellied Glider calls and activity in hollow locations.

Funded by the Australian Government, the $14 million Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants are supporting projects in regions impacted by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019–20. For further information visit landcareledbushfiregrants.org.au

Growling Grass Frog will be looking for volunteers and would love to hear from locals who would like to get involved, as well as landowners who are interested in potentially having hollows installed on their properties. To express your interest please email: admin@growlinggrassfrog.org


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