Habitat Trees for Phascogales: a new Connecting Country project
Posted on 10 July, 2023 by Ivan
Our ‘Habitat trees for Phascogales’ project aims to protect existing large old trees on grazing land for the Brush-tailed Phascogale and other native fauna by protecting and enhancing these habitat stepping-stones in the landscape.
We know that much of central Victoria’s native woodland has been heavily disturbed by a long history of mining, clearing, woodcutting, grazing, and changes in fire and water regimes. The local Box-Ironbark landscape provides habitat for many threatened species, including the Brush-tailed Phascogale, but much of the remaining woodland lacks complexity and is missing hollow-bearing trees that are important for foraging and nesting sites and protection from predators.
Scientific studies demonstrate an alarming acceleration in the decline of most species within this community over recent years, including the Brush-tailed Phascogale which has undergone a substantial range contraction, decline in numbers and experienced localised extinctions in some regions.
The Mount Alexander region is a likely stronghold for the Brush-tailed Phascogale and is important for the species’ future survival (Lawton et al. 2021, Austral Ecology). However, our region’s woodlands are heavily degraded and large old trees with hollows are now scarce and not being replaced.
Our project aims to protect large old trees from early senescence and facilitate natural regeneration. Over time, other key elements of phascogale habitat, such as fallen logs and leaf litter, will return to these areas.
What will this project achieve?
Connecting Country will be implementing a range of actions and education activities aimed at addressing this habitat loss and increasing the range for this iconic species.
Short-term actions (within 3 years):
- Engage landholders in protecting and restoring phascogale habitat on their properties.
- Fence strategically selected large old trees to protect them from stock grazing, and promote their health and regeneration.
- Plant understorey tube stock plants, and undertake weed and rabbit control within these areas.
- Provide nest boxes as potential nesting sites where necessary.
- Collect scientifically-rigorous data on Brush-tailed Phascogale distribution, that can be used by land managers to inform decision-making.
- Educate our community to raise awareness of the Brush-tailed Phascogale and their habitat needs.
Stay tuned for upcoming events and on-ground actions
For information on how to be involved in the project click here
The Habitat Trees for Phascogales project is supported by the Victorian Government through the Nature Fund as well as the Ian and Shirley Norman Foundation.