Large Forest Owls Project

If you are interested in joining this project please fill out the expression of interest form below.

Expression of Interest Form

The project

Through this project we are working with landholders to protect and enhance key nesting habitat and food resources for Vulnerable large forest owls across the Richmond-Clarence Lowlands. The project is working to ensure the survival of three Vulnerable species: the Barking Owl (Ninox connivens), Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae) and the Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua). Within the project area there is a priority zone in the north, see map below, that is focusing on protecting nest sites of the Barking Owl.

Project launch

On the 4th of April, 2019, the Large Forest Owls Project was launched at the Aranyani Bison Adventure Tourist Park in Myrtle Creek. The event brought together landholders from across the Richmond Clarence-Lowlands to ask questions, hear from experts and learn more about the project. At the end of the day there was a successful spotlighting session where one of the target species, four Barking Owls, was spotted. 

The importance of owls

The presence of resident populations of large forest owls in a landscape is a good indicator of healthy and functional forest ecosystems. The Vulnerable Barking Owl has declined across most of its historic range in NSW, with only two remaining strongholds; one in the Pilliga Forest, and one in the Richmond-Clarence Lowlands, specifically in the coastal Clarence Valley (Coldstream River and Shark Creek catchments) and in the Richmond Valley between Bundjalung National Park and the Upper Bungawalbin Creek catchment.

Barking Owls require intact, healthy forests and woodlands, and are a flagship species for the conservation and management of functioning mature forest ecosystems. The lowlands of the Richmond and Clarence catchments are a key stronghold for the Barking Owl, with significant populations of the Vulnerable Powerful Owl and Masked Owl also present. This is one of very few landscapes in NSW with healthy populations of the large forest owls. This assemblage of owls is supported by a diverse prey base of small to medium-sized native mammals and birds which make up a large proportion of their diet, especially when breeding. To ensure the survival of the Barking Owl there is an urgent need to protect and maintain the connectivity of habitat across the Richmond-Clarence Lowlands and to actively protect large hollow-bearing trees.

This project is contributing to the conservation and connectivity of populations of these large forest owls while also benefitting a range of other threatened arboreal marsupials including the Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa), Greater Glider (Petauroides volans), Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis) and Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) across the project area.


Working together

Funding from the Office of Environment and Heritage, through the Saving Our Species program, is enabling us to connect with landholders across the Richmond-Clarence Lowlands region and provide them with the training and tools to monitor and maintain populations of these critical species on their properties for the long-term.

The project consolidates and builds on strategic partnerships formed over the last decade across northern NSW. These partnerships include government and non-government organisations and Indigenous and non-Indigenous private landholders. The program is run by NCC with support from Office of Environment and Heritage - Saving Our Species program and the NSW Rural Fire Service. Many landholders have already been engaged with NCC through our Hotspots Fire Project, Firesticks program and the Upper Coldstream Biodiversity Program.


Tools for the future – support for landholders

Landholders involved in the project can participate in different ways. Throughout the life of the project landholders are able to participate in training workshops and community events, and are supported to carry out key activities on their properties. Some key activities include:

- Participation in long-term acoustic monitoring using Song meters to record Owl and other threatened species calls

- Property Fire Management Plans through Hotspots program with RFS and NCC to highlight and protect built and environmental assets specifically hollow-bearing trees

- Identify owl nest sites and significant areas of hollow-bearing trees for monitoring and protection

- Installation and monitoring of nest boxes for small arboreal mammals

- Strategic weed management and restoration works on key habitats and environmental assets particularly after fire

- Citizen science data collection on threatened fauna assemblages within owl territories

Online: Expression of Interest Form

Print: Expression of Interest Form

The project area

For more information get in touch with:

Pete Knock, NCC Large Forest Owls Project Coordinator, on (02) 66490981 or at

Kevin Taylor, NCC Hotspots Fire Project Ecologist, on (02) 6655 6539 or at

Kate McShea, NCC Healthy Ecosystems Program Coordinator, on (02) 9516 0359 or at

This project has been supported by the New South Wales Government's Saving our Species program through the Office of Environment and Heritage.


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