Large Forest Owls Work in the Richmond - Clarence Lowlands
Thursday, 23rd June 2022
Many Hotspots landholders have suffered from the devastating floods and ongoing rain over the last six months. The low-lying areas of the Bungawalbin Creek and Richmond River were particularly hard hit with many houses total inundated and properties submerged for many weeks or even months.
This has also impacted the ongoing work to protect large forest owls and their habitat in this area. This work was originally funded under the Save Our Species program and continues with support from the NSW Environmental Trust. Over the last four years ecologist and project co-ordinator Pete Knock has collected ecological data and incorporated this into property fire management, training materials developed and over 300 nest boxes installed on fire impacted properties. New funding will allow further monitoring and fire management actions to be included in landholder management plans and implemented. Koalas (Endangered) and Yellow-bellied gliders (Vulnerable) have not been detected readily in the project areas since the fires of 2019 and will be part of the focus of the ongoing monitoring work. For more information: https://www.nature.org.au/owls_project
Before the devastating impacts of the Black Summer fires two barking owl (Ninox connivens) were located in large old growth trees but unfortunately were lost or severely damaged and nesting abandoned. Wildlife ecologist David Milledge and Todd Soderquist from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment recently published research on the effects of the 2019 fires season on large trees and stags in high use and areas where the nests were located. Data collection had commenced before the 2019 fires with an inventory of the of the large old growth trees and stags in the area.
In total there was loss of 22.6% of large trees and stags recorded, with 72.7% of these trees also having pre-existing medium or large basal fire-scars. This demonstrates the importance of taking measures to particularly protect trees with these kinds of basal scars in the lead up to a fire season. Check out the Hotspots Fact Sheet on protecting hollow-bearing trees for more information by downloading the pdf below.
Access their full published article here: https://meridian.allenpress.com/australian-zoologist/article-abstract/doi/10.7882/AZ.2022.019/481101/Impacts-of-the-2019-wildfires-on-large-trees-and?redirectedFrom=fulltext
Pete has also been monitoring nest boxes in other locations and recently found the Southern Greater Glider (Petauroides volans subsp. volans) in several nest boxes at Mt Hyland. This species does not aways utilise nest boxes so the knowledge gained here will be of great value to the project as Greater Gliders are an important prey species of large forest owls and listed as Vulnerable on the Commonwealth EPBC Act 1995.