18 October 2011

In early October, members of the Scenic Rim community met with representatives from Boonah and District Landcare and Wildlife Queensland’s Scenic Rim Branch at Bunjurgen Estate Vineyard. Attendees enjoyed a tipple while discussing how to ‘connect the dots’ through ongoing corridor and nest box monitoring programs across the Scenic Rim’s fire-affected areas.

Inspired by a love of wildlife and a desire to regenerate the region following the destruction of swathes of habitat around Mount Barney and Main Range National Park in the 2019–2021 bushfires, residents from far and wide put their hands up to assist.

Wildlife habitat in the Scenic Rim is fragmented by farmland or housing developments. With the loss of more old-growth forest and hollows due to fire, sanctuaries in national parks and reserves will not be enough to save all species, especially hollow-dependent birds, bats and mammals. Suitable hollows for nesting and denning can take 200 years to form in mature eucalypts; while the trees grow, nest box programs may provide shorter-term relief.

A Post-Fire Push to Recover

Using grant-funding distributed by Landcare-led Bushfire Recovery Grants, Wildlife Queensland and Boonah and District Landcare will engage the community in a program of revival that includes:

  • assessing target areas for suitable linkage between Council reserves, school precincts and private property west of Beaudesert or in suitable corridors identified by Wildlife Queensland.
  • purchasing native eucalypt seedlings and distributing them to eligible landholders, as well as assisting with planting and fencing to ensure the seedlings persist
  • constructing and installing nest boxes to replace lost hollows and ongoing monitoring of nest box inhabitants, with findings to eventually be published in scientific and ecological journals, the Land for Wildlife magazine and Wildlife Australia.

‘We wanted to bring together community members for a pre-planning discussion to determine the best locations for planting seedlings that will increase habitat for all species and might one day form hollow homes for future generations of gliders, powerful owls and glossy black-cockatoos,’ said Dr Ronda Green from Wildlife Queensland’s Scenic Rim Branch. ‘Our next step is recording the location of nesting trees for more scientific assessment, starting the seedling distribution, and working with schools on the nest box building arm of the project.’

Catherine Madden and Claudje Lecompte install nest boxes

That Hollow Home Feeling …

More than 400 Australian species rely on tree hollows to den or nest, so the loss of large old hollows is particularly devastating. Well-insulated and durable artificial nest boxes will be constructed in several styles to help the target species for this project: the glossy black-cockatoo, powerful owl and greater glider. The boxes will also benefit other hollow-dependent fauna, including:

  • feathertail, yellow-bellied and squirrel gliders
  • masked and greater sooty owls
  • yellow-tailed black-cockatoos
  • owlet nightjars.

‘Adding sheeting around the base of trees with nest boxes will hopefully discourage brushtail possums and other non-target fauna from dominating them,’ says Boonah Landcare and WPSQ Scenic Rim member Ian Beale. ‘We’ll then perform ongoing nest box monitoring to gain long-term data and measure the success of the program and the progress of the artificial hollow’s wild inhabitants.’

Community Cooperation

The project is already drawing together a tight-knit conservation community. Students from Maroon State School will assemble the flat-packed ply boxes, along with men’s sheds and community centres including Boonah Activity Shed Inc, Beaudesert Men’s Shed and the Carinity/Fassifern Community Centre.

Tradies and local hardware store Boonah Mitre 10 have offered assistance and will donate supplies, and organisers are now calling for anyone else who can donate lumber or used colorbond roofing ­– used to protect the nest boxes from the elements and make them more appealing to wildlife – to get in touch.

Many who attended the event, kindly hosted by vigneron David McMaugh at Bunjurgen Estate, expressed their enthusiasm for revegetating with native flora. Even those whose plots might prove unsuitable for the proposed corridor or nest box project were encouraged to join in other ways, such as making use of the free native seedlings distributed by Scenic Rim Shire Council as part of the One Million Trees for the Scenic Rim project or the Annual Free Tree Program(which entitles ratepayers to two free trees per year).

For those with 1 ha of land or more, considering the Land for Wildlife program is also an option. Wildlife Queensland’s 9 Steps to Bringing Back the Bush might also help link up landowners up with rewilding resources.

‘Parts of the Scenic Rim and Main Range are just starting to spring back following the fires,’ says Linda Kimba from Boonah and District Landcare. ‘We’re all excited about distributing seedlings and getting out there in the field this spring, before it gets too hot to plant, as well as installing boxes for our most vulnerable wildlife species to give them time to settle in before the chilly nights return.’

Contact Wildlife Queensland’s Scenic Rim branch or Boonah and District Landcare to discover how you can get involved with replanting, reconnection and post-fire recovery programs.

Written by Wildlifeqld