In 2013, the Addison Road Community Centre Organisation established an Urban Habitats program to foster wildlife habitat in the urban environment and enhance the benefits of green space that exists at our community centre. The program is centred on our Urban Habitat Tree, with interlinking scientific research and community development activities.
Native wildlife in a housing crisis:
‘Hollow bearing trees’ are vital for the survival of many native animals and birds, and their availability is rapidly declining – so much so that their loss has been listed as a Key Threatening Process in NSW*. It takes 120 -200 years for hollows to form, and many native animals and birds can’t live without them. As most of the original forest cover in NSW has been cleared since 1788, most trees are too young to have hollows, exacerbating our already high extinction rates. Urban areas are often under-prioritised in understandings of habitat value, yet in the face of increased land-clearing and rapid development, habitat availability in urban areas is ever more vital for wildlife movement and survival.
* As determined by the Scientific Committee established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act.
The ARCCO Urban Habitat Tree
In 2014, ARCCO pioneered the creation of an Urban Habitat Tree with former Marrickville Council and Sydney Arbor Trees. This involved retaining a Sydney Blue Gum that required removal due to safety concerns. Rather than removing the tree, we had branches removed to make it safe, then artificial tree hollows were created to replicate a ‘dead tree’, much like those you would find in the bush. Unfortunately, such trees are lacking in the urban environment as they are removed for safety or aesthetic reasons. Urban Habitat Trees have helped to change this perception and the practice is catching on, with locals choosing to create habitat trees in their backyards.
If you’d like an Urban Habitat Trees created in your backyard, LGA, business or school, contact Sydney Arbor Trees (02) 9666 6821 or email@example.com
ARCCO also hosts guided visits and activities focussed on our Tree. If you’d like to arrange an excursion for a group of adults or children, please contact our Environment Coordintor on (02) 9568 7633 or firstname.lastname@example.org
– Children doing an art workshop with Drawn to Seeing discuss habitats with ARCCO’s Environment Coordinator, Rosy Porter.
Monitoring our Urban Habitat Tree
Since 2015, we have been leading the first wildlife monitoring program of its kind in New South Wales to evaluate the effectiveness of Urban Habitat Trees. There are now over 100 Habitat Tree across the state, and it’s vital we monitor to determine how successful they are, and factors such as uptake; which species are using them; what they’re using them for. We set up motion-activated cameras and microbat detectors in our Tree, and our ecologist undertakes spot checks in the hollows. Citizen scientists also record wildlife activity on a weekly basis, and feed data into the Hollows As Home study, run by the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
Let us know what species are using the Tree! If you spot birds using the Tree, please take a photograph and send to email@example.com. We’ve already recorded an array of species, including, sulphur-crested cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, Eastern rosellas, kookaburras, galahs, and microbats – visiting, feeding and socialising. Our findings are already influencing hollow design and improving this emerging environmental tool.
In October 2017, we documented rainbow lorikeets using the tree to raise twins! This is the first known documentation of the species breeding in an Urban Habitat Tree.
This project was supported in 2017/2018 by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government and in 2015/2016 by the Inner West Council Environment Grants Program.
Check out some of the results of our wildlife monitoring program in this clip:
Children’s book on Urban Habitats:
In 2018, we will publish a picture book that fosters awareness of the importance of urban habitats – and the way everyday people and contribute to its preservation and enhancement. The book development will be highly collaborative, incorporating illustrations and quotes from children, with art educators from Drawn To Seeing.
The book will be developed in collaboration with Drawn To Seeing, Connect Marrickville, Sydney Abor Trees, and Growing School Communities.
Funded by the Inner West Council Environment Grants Program.
Microbats and other creatures of the night!
In 2015-16, we ran Nocturnal Microbat Monitoring sessions, involving local residents as ‘citizen scientists’ to use echo-location devices to pick up microbat calls. We detected Goulds and Eastern Bent-wing onsite, and contributed valuable data on these under-researched species.