Real estate boom for Northern Rivers' threatened species

The NSW Northern Rivers is set to experience a real estate boom, with 111 nest boxes installed across the region as part of a trial to support threatened species impacted by bushfire.

Squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis)

NSW Government Saving our Species Program Principal Manager, Partnerships Tania Reid said the 2019–20 bushfires destroyed many hollow-bearing trees, leaving hollow-dependent animals like the threatened squirrel glider, powerful owl and turquoise parrot without safe homes for shelter and nesting.

"Tree hollows can take hundreds of years to develop, and the bushfires left us with a shortage of this critical habitat, putting significant pressure on the animals who rely on tree hollows and the older forests that support them," said Ms Reid.

"We've partnered with the Worldwide Fund for Wildlife (WWF) Australia and Wildbnb Wildlife Habitat to supplement this shortfall of natural tree hollows with 111 nest boxes.

"These boxes, designed, built and installed by Wildbnb, will provide somewhere safe for these threatened species to shelter and reproduce, increasing their survival chances, while fire-affected bushland in the local area regenerates.

"Over the coming months, we will monitor which species are utilising the nest boxes, how often they are using them and for what length of time. This data will help our threatened species experts to evaluate the effectiveness of nest boxes in providing habitat for threatened species.

"The 4G remote cameras deployed along with the nest boxes have already captured some furry-faced gliders checking out the new real estate and they seem pretty impressed," said Ms Reid.

Darren Grover, Head of Healthy Land and Seascapes, WWF Australia said that creative and collaborative approaches are needed to give threatened species the best chance of survival in what has been a challenging year for wildlife.

"At the heart of this initiative is a strong partnership between the NSW Government, a non-government organisation and a conservation start-up. We need more of this if we are to successfully respond to the challenges our environment is facing," said Mr Grover.

Wildbnb founder, David Brook said the significant project will provide critical data in relation to both the impact of bushfires on threatened species and how best to support them during recovery.

Nest boxes have been deployed in Minyumai Indigenous Protected Area, Ngunya Jargoon Indigenous Protected Area, Bundjalung National Park and Tabbimoble Nature Reserve. All 4 sites were significantly impacted by last summer's bushfires.

Monitoring will be conducted by National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), threatened species experts from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry

and Environment, students from Southern Cross University and Indigenous Protected Areas rangers.

The results of this trial will inform Saving our Species' future conservation actions for other threatened species across New South Wales.

This project has been funded through WWF Australia's Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund, established in January 2020 in response to the 2019–20 bushfires.