Habitat restoration project completed

Tree at Barrer Hill

An innovative habitat restoration project involving the relocation and resurrection of large mature trees up to 160 years old is now complete. 

Work has been taking place since 2014 to restore rocky grasslands and recreate woodland habitat for threatened species like the Pink-tailed Worm-lizard and woodland birds at Barrer Hill in the soon to be declared Molonglo River Reserve near Coombs.

A highlight of the project has been the recent installation of vertical habitat structures, including five man-made utility poles and five re-located mature trees, some up to 160 years old, which were deemed unsafe to remain standing in urban Canberra, but have now been given a renewed lease on life.

In delicate operations involving crane trucks and semi-trailers, trees were skillfully removed intact and then resurrected on-site where they were placed into concrete-lined sleeves, where they will now provide habitat for species in coming decades.

Old trees provide unique habitat features that animals and insects rely on, such as hollows and peeling bark. Further work was done to enrich resurrected structures, by attaching carved hollows and artificial bark to attract a variety of wildlife.

Specialised wildlife cameras have been placed in the structures as part of a research project with the Australian National University to see what sort of wildlife is using the structures.

Within hours of the structures being installed woodland birds such as raptors and parrots were perching and inspecting hollows. Within days native bats were roosting in specialised bat boxes. 

This research being conducted in collaboration with the Fenner School of Environment and Society (ANU) will provide valuable data on the ability to restore vertical habitat structures in other modified areas.