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Build it and they will come: Habitat log re-introductions at the Bank Australia Conservation Reserve

This year at the Bank Australia Conservation Reserve we’ve turned a land management problem into a habitat solution. By re-introducing small, scattered piles of logs into 6-year-old revegetation areas we hope to provide homes for many species such as the bearded dragon, stumpy tail lizards, fat-tailed dunnarts and antechinus species to name a few. Without our intervention it could take up to 60 years for our planted trees to grow big enough and then drop their branches onto the ground and begin to provide habitat for ground dwelling species.

We were pretty excited to see this stumpy tail lizard checking out one of our new log piles the very day after it was built!

Our main contractor ‘Slim’ from Slimline Rural Fencing enjoying the challenge of building a new lizard home.

Objectives

  • Improve control of rabbits in remnant vegetation by eliminating shelter structures
  • Increase the habitat value of restoration areas via the redistribution and placement of logs
  • Reduce grazing pressure within remnant vegetation
  • Reduce the intensity of a potential bush fire within remnant vegetation

So, what was the problem?

The central east-west track at the Minimay Conservation Reserve was originally created with a bulldozer to provide access to fire trucks. The felled trees from this action were piled up along the side of the track. These large piles of logs provide excellent harbor for rabbits which feed heavily on nearby ground cover plants. It was also very difficult to control rabbit populations with these structures in place.

Adam Blake from Trust for Nature assessing the problem caused by the old bulldozed line.

Rabbits thrive under the piles of logs pushed together by the bulldozer.

Smaller scattered piles, instead of larger piles, containing hollow logs provide the best habitat for many native animals – particularly ground dwelling species like lizards. Using a crane mounted on the back of a car trailer, logs were transported from the track edge to the revegetation area to create native wildlife homes.

The 927-hectare Bank Australia Conservation Reserve in Victoria’s Wimmera region provides habitat for a diversity of native plants and animals including 13 threatened species like the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-cockatoo. In 2017, Bank Australia developed a new ten-year conservation strategy for the reserve in partnership with Greening Australia and Trust for Nature. Greening Australia is working with the bank to help bring this bold vision to life. The project received the Banksia Award for Large Business in 2018.