Vulnerable marsupial carnivore to benefit from large-scale habitat restoration in WA wheatbelt

One of Australia’s mysterious vulnerable marsupials will soon be enjoying vast swathes of new habitat in Western Australia’s wheatbelt.

We are working to create and relink 1,400 hectares of critical habitat for the little known Red-tailed Phascogale, a carnivorous marsupial whose range once extended across semi-arid and arid Australia.

With populations now confined almost entirely to a heavily cleared portion of Western Australia’s southern wheatbelt, Greening Australia will be working with landholders to plant almost one million native trees and shrubs on cleared farmland for phascogales.

Related to the better-known Tasmanian Devil, the small, tree-dwelling marsupial lives off insects, spiders and even small birds. Males live for only a year; dying from stress related injuries shortly after a frenzied mating season.

With up to 84% of native vegetation already lost in the wheatbelt, onground work will deliver multiple benefits to both the environment and the local farming community with improvements associated with soil erosion and salinity.

“Our approach of creating diverse fodder shelterbelts and habitat patches using an array of different native species improves the production and the resilience of the land whilst relinking and expanding habitat for the phascogale and other native wildlife,” Blair Parsons, Greening Australia Science and Programs Leader – Western Region.

“There are several other organisations working on projects to help protect the wheatbelt’s phascogales mainly within private reserves. We are trying to do something outside of the fence which benefits both the species and local farming communities.”

“The phascogale is unusual as though it has a very restricted distribution, this falls within the busy wheatbelt sector. It is often found living nose to tail with farmers in the gutters of people’s homes and bits and pieces of farm sheds. Its speed and agility has enabled it to cope with the foxes and cats that have led to the extinction of many other mammals, but it needs more habitat if it is to survive. Creating habitat for endangered species is the core of what Greening Australia does.”

The value of the planting work will be boosted with the installation of nest boxes which will provide both temporary habitat whilst the trees and shrubs mature, and additional nesting hollows long term.

“Phascogales are relatively easy to trap, capture and measure which luckily means they are quite easy to monitor. We will be conducting surveys during and after seeding to measure the success of our onground work and guide future actions.”

Seed collection and site visits with local farmers has already begun, with revegetation activities planned for later in the year once the winter rains begin.

The project forms part of our Great Southern Landscapes program which is working with landholders and partners to create and relink millions of hectares of habitat across Southern Australia.

The project is funded through the Australian Government’s 20 Million Trees Programme, part of the National Landcare Programme.

Media Enquiries

Blair Parsons, Science and Programs Leader – Western Region.
[email protected]
0475 956 689