Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Looking for landholders: Habitat trees for Phascogales

Posted on 10 July, 2023 by Ivan

Do you have large old trees on your grazing property? Are you in the Mount Alexander region? Do you want to protect your large old trees and increase habitat for local fauna? 

Connecting Country has been successful in securing funding to create habitat ‘stepping stones’ across the landscape with our project ‘habitat trees for Phascogales’. Working with private landholders we will improve habitat connectivity and resilience of local flora and fauna in times of climatic stress.

The Mount Alexander Shire is home to many threatened wildlife species that survive in the fragmented woodlands across our region. Large old trees and the hollows they provide are vital habitat for many of these species. One of the species that relies on large old trees is the Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa), also known as the Tuan. This a small, nocturnal, carnivorous marsupial, a little larger than a domestic rat and with a very distinctive bushy tail.

In Victoria, the Brush-tailed Phascogale was once widespread, but now has a fragmented distribution. The Brush-tailed Phascogale is a threatened species listed under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and considered Vulnerable in Victoria. One of its strongholds is around Central Victoria and the Mount Alexander region.

Phascogale in a Connecting Country nest box. Photo: Jess Lawton

The aim of the project is to protect large old trees across our region, with a particular focus on enhancing habitat for the Brush-tailed Phascogale. We’ll achieve this through practical on-ground actions including; revegetation, stock grazing exclusion around old trees, installation of nestboxes, and strategic weed and pest animal control. We will work with key landholders and focus on a plan for their property and the old trees it contains.

The Habitat Trees for Phascogales project is supported by the Victorian Government through the Nature Fund and the Ian and Shirley Norman Foundation.

A Phascogale in a large old tree. Photo by Geoff Park

Looking for local landholders

We are looking for landholders in the Mount Alexander Shire area who are interested in participating.

Appropriate candidates will have:

  • large old trees in grazing land that can be fenced off from stock grazing.
  • a willingness to retain fallen limbs, leaf litter and rocky outcrops in these fenced plots.
  • a commitment to ongoing low-level maintenance of plantings and of weed and pest animal control.

If your property is suitable for the project, we will:

  • Visit your property to identify large old trees and assess their potential for phascogale habitat.
  • Develop a written property management plan setting out on-ground actions to protect large old trees and enhance habitat connectivity on your property.
  • Provide contractor support and materials for fencing and planting ‘stepping stones’.
  • Provide contractor support for weed and rabbit control within the project area.
  • Provide suitable indigenous understory plants to help protect large old trees, increase habitat and food plants for fauna including the Brush-tailed Phascogale.

Landholder expressions of interest

If you meet the criteria above and are keen to protect and restore old trees on your land, please complete our expression of interest form – EOI Click Here

Please return your expression of interest form to Connecting Country via email ( Expressions of interest close on 13 August 2023.

To learn more about the Brush-tailed Phascogale, click here

Large old trees, such as this one, often do not have regeneration to succeed them. Photo: Connecting Country


7 responses to “Looking for landholders: Habitat trees for Phascogales”

  1. Jen Horne says:

    Hi Lori
    We live in the Shire and have a number of large old trees – roughly 8 in grazed paddock and 12 – 15 in fenced off areas along waterways. We have a program to encourage desirable plants and discourage weeds with minimal chemical. We’ve never sighted any phasogales but did find a sad little stash of 3 tails under the woodpile last year. We’ve seen the odd feral cat since we’ve been here (2 years) and foxes more frequently. Perhaps for this reason, there doesn’t seem to be any rabbits – touch wood!! – but we do have echidnas, wombats and antechinus. Interested in this program so will submit an EOI soon.

  2. Eliza Tree says:

    Hi CC,
    I have many large trees, and it’s not grazing land, but I’m very interested to do all I can to enhance Phascogale habitat, with under-story plants, etc.
    Will there also be a survey to ascertain population numbers, and connectivity in the landscape -Muckleford Landcare did something along these lines 18 or 20 years ago.
    I’ll submit an EOI.
    Thanks & cheers, Eliza

    • Lori says:

      Thanks Eliza, we will look out for your EoI. Connecting Country supports a citizen science nest-box monitoring program which helps us to learn more about phascogale populations (and other nest box users like gliders). We currently do this in alternate years to our woodland bird monitoring program and will be monitoring nest-boxes next year. You can learn more about our monitoring program here:

  3. Margery Townrow says:

    We have the habitat etc for phascogales but how do we know they are present. We have seen two dead ones this year, males which have mated.

    • Lori says:

      Thanks Margery, it is hard to know if there are phascogales living in your trees but you don’t necessarily need to have phascogales living in your trees to apply for this project. Please complete an expression of interest if you have large old trees in grazing land on your property that you would like to protect.

  4. Nick Fahey says:

    I have some stands of old redgum and box. I’m in Mt Glasgow near Merin Merin swamp. Is it an absolute requirement to be in Mt Alexander Shire, or would you extend to Crntral Goldfields Shire?

    Kind regards

    • Lori says:

      Thanks for your interest in our Phascogales project Nick. Our focus is on the Mount Alexander region and keeping it local helps with efficient delivery. Priority will be given to properties in the Mount Alexander Shire area that meet the funding criteria but you are welcome to put in an Expression of Interest and we can consider it amongst the mix of applications.

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