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Byron Shire
April 19, 2021

Tweed trial turns dead trees into habitat for fauna

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Contractors from Habi-Tec build a high-rise habitat for lorikeets, gliders and rosellas in this forest red gum on Tree Street, Murwillumbah. The contractors created four hollows in the tree after removing the dead or dying limbs. Photo Tweed Shire Council

An innovative approach to managing the risk of dead trees on public land will be trialled in Tweed Shire starting this week. Rather than removing dead trees in parks, Council has engaged specialist contractors to turn the trees into ‘wildlife habitat high-rises’.

Council staff recently attended a workshop on the Gold Coast where this method has been successfully used to create more than 80 habitat trees.

The limbs that present a risk are safely trimmed back and then artificial tree hollows installed. The hollows closely resemble natural hollows, as they are constructed from the existing tree branches.

Monitoring of the hollows created on the Gold Coast has shown a high success rate to date.

‘More than 300 native wildlife species, including birds, reptiles and mammals are totally dependent on tree hollows for nesting or roosting,’ Council’s senior biodiversity program leader, Scott Hetherington, said.

‘This approach not only prevents the loss of dead trees, which are critical for providing tree hollows, but fast-tracks the creation of hollows that otherwise take a minimum of 100 years to form naturally.’

Council is this week creating new habitats in three trees to trial the method.

Yesterday (Tuesday July 3), a tree on Botanical Circuit at Banora Point was treated, followed today by a forest red gum on River Street, Murwillumbah. A third tree in the road reserve on Garden of Eden Road at Tomewin will be treated later this month after nearby powerlines are isolated to allow the work to go ahead.

‘The hollows created will target species most likely to occur in the area as all species have unique requirements with regard to the overall dimensions, position and size of entrance hole. The initial hollows will aim to provide habitat for lorikeets and other small parrots, owls and possums,’ said Mr Hetherington.

Council arborist Luke Page welcomed the trial.

‘Tree hollows in urban areas are becoming increasingly rare so the ability to create these high-rise habitats is very exciting and will provide better outcomes for park users and wildlife alike,’ Mr Page said.


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  1. With old trees being cut down all the time, hollows are fast disappearing. We really need the artificial hollows created so larger birds, some mammals like phascogales and possums etc can have a place to breed and bring up their young.
    I worry though that the created hollows with increase bring forward the death of the tree as the termites find the dead wood.


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