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Species hotels land in Ross for Biodiversity Day

The Tasmania Island Ark ‘Species Hotel’ sculptural installations were a recent focal point for Campbell Town District Students who met with 60 Architecture and Design students from the University of Tasmania’s Launceston campus to celebrate Biodiversity Day in Ross.

The sculptural installations are the culmination of work by more than 100 designers, artists, scientists and school children engaged in the design and building process and were recently installed into their forever home in the Tasmanian Midlands.

The ‘hotels’ represent some of the key attributes that native wildlife need to live and thrive in a rich and diverse landscape. They are designed in a way that will attract insects into the nesting boxes, acting as a form of room service for birds, bats and other mammals.

Students were welcomed by land owner Julian von Bibra, a UTAS PhD zoology candidate, a Tasmanian Aboriginal community representative and Greening Australia’s Sebastian Burgess who gave an overview of Tasmanian Island Ark project, that is restoring habitat for native species in the midlands

Local birds of prey expert Nick Mooney got everyone excited with his taxidermized birds and noted the students had good young eyes for bird spotting. Exploring the Species Hotels beside tinamirakuna / the Macquarie River the students excitedly spotted four endangered wedge-tailed eagles circling overhead.

Greening Australia Education Coordinator Nel Smit said, “The students have been engaged in the Species Hotels project for three years and were excited to see the how the hotels are being used by animals. They found a big bird nest and a bee hive in one of the sculptures.

This event will be followed up on 14 September 2018 with a Big Biodiversity Night Out at Merton Vale, an afternoon symposium for the community and students building ‘Ecological Furniture’. The Campbell Town students will also be involved with tree planting at a property close to Campbell Town.

The Tasmanian Midlands is a Biodiversity Hotspot, one of the most important parts of Australia for species diversity. Fifteen biodiversity hotspots have been recognised across Australia. These ‘hotspots’ are areas with many endemic plant, animal, bird and insect species that are considered at risk, with biodiversity in decline.

Since European settlement around 200 years ago, the Tasmanian Midlands have changed drastically, with 80% of the landscape transformed into agricultural pasture and cropping land.

As a result, the grassy woodlands that made up the majority of the Midlands landscape for tens of thousands of years have all but disappeared. A limited amount of degraded and fragmented native woodlands remain, putting many of Tasmania’s unique fauna species under pressure.

Without adequate habitat, small mammals and birds are unable to move across the landscape to search for food, to mate and respond to our changing climate. As a result, we’ve begun to see declines in genetic diversity in many of Tasmania’s iconic mammal species. For some, like the eastern barred bandicoot, they simply can no longer survive here under current conditions.

Tasmania Island Ark, noted as Australia’s largest river restoration initiative is rebuilding six thousand hectares of habitat to reconnect the Central Plateau to the Eastern Tiers. This includes 35 kilometres along tinamirakuna / the Macquarie River and its tributaries. This new habitat is vital to enable wildlife to move across the Midlands in search of food, shelter and breeding partners and to assist the land to adapt to the effects of climate change.

The project is a collaboration between Greening Australia and the University of Tasmania’s School of Architecture and Design, School of Land and Food, School of Creative Arts and the ARC Centre for Forest Value.

Thank you to the von Bibra family and generous support from the Ian Potter Foundation.