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Growing new homes for native tree-rats

Christmas came early for Darwin’s endangered native tree-rats, which will benefit from the planting of over 18,000 new food and habitat trees, the first of which were put in the ground at the end of last year.

‘Trees for Wildlife’, a collaborative program between Greening Australia and the Australian Government’s Green Army program, will restore 30 hectares of habitat for Black-footed Tree-rats (Mesembriomys gouldii) across 24 Land for Wildlife properties in Darwin and surrounding areas.

The Green Army team potting the seedlings that will create new homes for native tree-rats. The Green Army team potting the seedlings that will create new homes for native tree-rats.

The first 455 trees were planted on a previously cleared five-acre property in Leanyer in December. Once restored, the property, which backs on to the Leanyer Swamp, will serve as a wildlife corridor for the endangered tree-rats, whose numbers have declined significantly over the last decade.

The nocturnal Black-footed Tree-rat, which is the size of a small rabbit and sports a white-tipped tail, is one of Australia’s largest rodents. It relies on tree hollows for nesting during the day and foraging at night. Populations are found scattered around the Top End including the greater Darwin area.

Black-footed Tree-rat (Mesembriomys gouldii) Black-footed Tree-rat (Mesembriomys gouldii)

Seeds for the program are being grown and wild harvested by the Green Army team with assistance from Greening Australia. Charles Darwin University has provided the young team with training in land management and horticulture.

Land for Wildlife properties located in Darwin, Bees Creek, Humpty Doo, Darwin River and Bachelor were selected to participate based on connectivity with existing habitat and the landholder’s commitment to care for the trees and manage threats such as weeds, fire and feral animals.

The Green Army team with some of the native seeds that have been grown and wild harvested for sowing. The Green Army team with some of the native seeds that have been grown and wild harvested for sowing.

In addition to private land, trees will be planted at Howard Springs Primary School, Mcminns Lagoon Nature Reserve and Woorabinda Scout Camp in Howard Springs, along with educational posters to raise awareness about the species.

Green Army is delivered through Conservation Volunteers Australia.

Trees for Wildlife is supported through the Australian Government’s Green Army and 20 Million Trees Programmes and funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

For more information contact, Emma Lupin (Land for Wildlife coordinator) at Greening Australia on or 0448 214 716.