Housing bonanza: 100 new hollows in Macleay Valley national parks

Native wildlife in the Macleay Valley are experiencing a real estate boom, with 100 new hollows created in Skillion Nature Reserve and Boonanghi Nature Reserve.

Person wearing a helmet and using tree climbing equipment bores a hole n the tree trunk using the Hollowhog boring tool

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Ranger Kath Crowe said the collaborative project between Macleay Landcare, the NPWS and FAWNA NSW Inc. is creating much-needed habitat hollows in the fire-damaged national parks.

'During the Black Summer bushfires, 47% of the Kempsey Shire was burnt by wildfire and many hollow-bearing trees were lost in this event,' said Ms Crowe.

'It can take hundreds of years for large tree hollows to form naturally so the loss of this habitat was devastating for native wildlife in the Macleay Valley.

'Hollows provide homes for a huge variety of birds, mammals and reptiles, including the squirrel glider, brush-tailed phascogale, powerful owl and glossy black cockatoo.

'We are extremely excited to be participating in Macleay Landcare’s project to create tree hollows using the “hollowhog”, a unique boring tool that safely and efficiently excavates hollows in living and dead trees with minimal damage to the living parts of the tree.

'"Hollowhog" hollows are more durable than traditional nest boxes, have superior temperature regulating qualities and can be created in a huge range of sizes and shapes to accommodate different hollow-dwelling species.

'These hollows will provide somewhere safe for threatened species like the squirrel glider to shelter and reproduce while fire-affected bushland in the local area regenerates,' said Ms Crowe.

Macleay Landcare Officer Louis Marree said the hollows created in the nature reserves will complement hollows and nest box installations on surrounding private properties.

'Through Macleay Landcare’s Nest Box Appeal Project and hollow hog initiative, 200 nest boxes have been installed on private property and 100 hollows created in national parks,' said Mr Marree.

'Monitoring data collected from these installations will contribute to a regional census being developed through Charles Sturt University, which will be used to provide best practice guidelines for installing nest boxes and tree hollows in disturbed habitats,' Mr Marree said.

The hollows will be monitored in six months’ time for signs of occupancy, with ongoing monitoring to be undertaken by NPWS.

The Macleay Wildlife Habitat Bushfire Recovery Project is supported by the Commonwealth Government’s Bushfire Recovery for Wildlife and Habitat Community Grants program, FAWNA NSW Inc, and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The project is supporting wildlife habitat recovery by restoring fire-affected or degraded vegetation communities, increasing the availability of nesting sites for hollow-dependent wildlife, and delivering educational workshops.