Wheat

Visit to One Eye Forest an eye opener

The importance of different types and ages of vegetation and trees in supporting the region’s native wildlife was highlighted at a Whroo Goldfields Conservation Management Network (CMN) field day at One Eye Forest near Heathcote recently.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) CMN Co-ordinator Janice Mentiplay-Smith said 44 people, including 19 “new” faces listened to guest speaker Chris Tzaros from Birds, Bush & Beyond as they toured the site examining the landscape, native vegetation and birdlife.

“Chris explained interesting facts about the landscape that we often overlook or don’t even know are there, for example, how the mixture of eucalypt species is so important when it comes to supplying a food source for resident and migratory birds,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

“We looked at how differences in height of the landscape elevation – even just a few metres- plays an important part when determining which wildlife will move where, and how a water source and even the amount of canopy or size of a tree’s trunk will affect the types of wildlife in the area.

“The lack of old trees – those big grey box with metre-wide diameter trunks that would have once existed before mining and clearing – was startling. When we don’t have these old trees, we don’t have tree hollows, and our native fauna, such as brush-tailed phascogales, squirrel gliders, antechinus and sugar gliders, all need hollows. Otherwise they are reduced to trying to shelter on the ground under logs, or beneath pieces of peeling bark, which leads them open to predation by cats and foxes. Their breeding success is also severely compromised – they may only be able to raise a couple of young, instead of five or six.”

The Whroo-Goldfields CMN has been installing nest boxes in the region to provide artificial hollows for wildlife to shelter in as part of the 1000 Hollows Project.

“Orlando Talamo, our nest box monitor, showed us some of the 45 nest boxes he has installed in the One Eye Forest, with amazing results,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

“Most of the 45 nest boxes are occupied or have signs of occupation, sometimes within just weeks of the nest boxes being installed, which shows how needed our nest boxes are.”

During the event Ms Mentiplay-Smith took the opportunity to thank Mr Talamo for his five years of hard work and dedication to the nest box program and presented him with a signed, framed photograph of a brush-tailed phascogale as a token of the CMN’s appreciation.

“We now have nearly 800 nest boxes installed and monitored annually in the Whroo Goldfields CMN region, as part of the 1000 Hollows Project, which is an amazing feat,” she said.

Ms Mentiplay-Smith also thanked the Heathcote Community House and the Heathcote Farmers Market for providing lunch.

The event was part of the Whroo Goldfields CMN’s Yellow Gums & Goldfields project, which is in its fourth and final year, funded through the Victorian Government’s Communities for Nature Program.