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Healthy Ecosystems Programs June Update

Hot spots and Large Forest Owls Projects 

Threatened Large Forest Owls


NCC has been involved in two NSW Environment Trust funded projects specifically for the benefit of the threatened Large Forest Owls (Barking, Masked and Powerful Owl) on the North Coast of NSW since 2019.  

The projects focus on private property knowledge building for landholders but have morphed into a post-fire recovery effort because of the catastrophic 2019-2020 fire season. The project is based on long-term acoustic monitoring of owl and arboreal mammal populations and their response to the immense fire impacts including the massive loss of large hollow-bearing trees. NCC raised funds for an extensive Nest box program through a crowd funding campaign in 2020 in which 400 nest boxes were placed in the landscape and over time are tracking the response of glider and possum populations. Generally, the smaller gliders are responding post-fire but there are still grave concerns for the larger threatened Yellow-bellied and Southern Greater species. More work is continuing to understand and respond to monitor and improve habitat for these species. 

Last week was the first full opportunity to do nest box monitoring on one of our largest, Large Forest Owls participating properties since the widespread flooding on the North Coast in 2022. Eighty boxes were checked over two days with only 3 boxes showing no signs of use. This equates to a very high occupancy / usage rate. NCC field staff are trailing a new field database app so will be entering data for all nest box locations over the next few months. This will allow multiple users, updates in the field on progress and greatly improve tracking and compiling of monitoring statistics. It will also be used for spotlighting transects, Hollow-bearing tree surveys, acoustic monitoring sites and collecting incidental threatened species records. The 400 boxes in total purchased by NCC crowd funding campaign will provide shelter and breeding sites for many years to come.  


Purchase of 200 Nest boxes for Safe Havens 

The first Nest box delivery for the Safe Havens - Large Forest Owl extension project was received last week. Hollow Log Homes delivered 200 of their high quality and specifically designed boxes targeted at arboreal mammals: for gliders, phascogales, and possums in our study area. These will be added to the already 400 boxes installed as part of the previous projects. Photo attached. 


A Week of Surveys at Pillar Valley  

In a collaboration with property owners involved in the Large Forest Owls Project, NCC ecologists undertook a week of wildlife surveys to collect data for property management actions at Banyula Sanctuary in the Clarence Valley, east of Grafton.   

Seven small mammal species were detected during a week of intensive trapping surveys. A highlight was a population of the Eastern Chestnut Mouse Pseudomys gracilicaudatus, listed as Vulnerable on the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act). Other BC Act listed species fauna found during surveys were the Masked Owl, Squirrel Glider and Glossy Black-Cockatoo.  

The monitoring data builds on previous surveys which have occurred in the area since the Pillar Valley Hotspots Workshops in 2016.  


Hotspots Fire Project 

With the addition of a few new Hotspots team members, workshops have been rolling out across the state including in Goolawah, Yarramundi, Still Creek, Bombay and Goobarragandra. 


Northern NSW 

In the north of the state, RFS Facilitator Jamie Bertram and NCC Ecologist Kevin Taylor successfully delivered a workshop series to the Goolawah community 9 April and 3 May, following community interest built during a Hotspots information session, delivered late last year. 

The Goolawah workshop was held on a community co-operative with a strong environmental focus, with a history of weeding programs delivered by Landcare. The property also had a resident koala population, after spotting koala scats during the first workshop, participants were delighted to see a koala during the second workshop! The northern team are currently planning a workshop series near Roseberry Creek, near Toonumbar National Park, 15 July and 5 August, so if you are interested in attending check out the Hotspots website for more details on how to register. 


Central NSW 

In the Hawkesbury Nepean region, RFS facilitator Bruce Hansen and NCC’s new ecologist Belinda Kenny delivered a workshop for the Yarramundi community, west of Winsor, 4 and 18 May. Approximately 20 landholders came along and heard from representatives from the local RFS District, Local Land Services, Hawkesbury City Council and National Parks and Wildlife Service.  

Belinda and Jamie Bertram are now delivering a workshop for the Still Creek community, near Hornsby, with the demonstration site allowing participants to see clear examples of time since fire with vegetation having been burnt as part of a hazard reduction burn 3-years ago. Participants also heard from their local Landcare and Streamwatch project representatives, along with a presentation by the Hills-Hornsby Rural Koala Project which gave them insights into the local fauna. Workshop 1 was delivered 15 June, with workshop 2 scheduled 29 June. 


South NSW 

Down south, RFS facilitator Jason McWhirter and new NCC ecologist Neale Watson delivered workshop 2 for the Bombay community 29 April, after the workshop was postponed last year due to flooding of the Shoalhaven River. Bombay had been severely affected by the 2019-20 fire season and many landholders shared stories of how the fires had affected them and their properties. The community were keen to learn how they could work collaboratively with their neighbours to best prepare for future fire seasons. Unfortunately, a demonstration burn wasn’t able to be carried out due to poor weather during the second workshop, but the community came back together, 24 June to participate in a demonstration burn.   

Further out west, near Tumut the team delivered a workshop to the Goobarragandra community 11 March and 1 April. Here participants learnt about a locally endangered Grevillea species, the Tumut Grevillea (Grevillea wilkinsonii), and how best to protect it when planning for fire on their properties.

Check out the Hotspots website for further details on upcoming workshops in your local area 


NCC 2023 Bushfire conference: How can we manage bushfires together? 

As the effects of Climate Change becomes more evident and as bushfires continue to burn from Canada to Australia, the question of how we can work together better to manage bushfires sparks to mind. This year on the 24-25th May, NCC’s Bushfire Program brought together over 300 delegates at our 13th Biennial Bushfire Conference to try and answer this question via the theme “Managing Bushfire Together: Applying science, skills and stories” at the Teachers’ Federation Conference Centre in Surry Hills, Sydney. 

This unique and hybrid event hosted 46 speakers who shared knowledge and ideas of how we can better protect people and nature from bushfires. All talks were inspiring and we learned how Climate Change is impacting bushfires, people and the environment; what the challenges are in protecting nature above and below ground and even out to sea; how we can better connect to Country and people; the central role of communities; and exciting new innovations and collaborations in bushfire management. Energetic discussions were ignited amongst delegates over the 2 days representing over 130 organisations from many states including a diverse range of environmental organisations, community members, land managers, Traditional Owners, agencies, academics and more (full program can be accessed here)

If you didn’t attend and would like early access to the conference recordings please contact Bushfire Program staff about purchasing at [email protected] 

Stay tuned for more updates about the conference field day in the next edition. 

To support the NCC Bushfire Conference (24-25th May), NCC acknowledges the generous financial contributions of platinum sponsors: NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and WWF-Australia; gold sponsor, Toolijooa Environmental Restoration; and silver sponsors the Humane Society International Australia and Local Land Services. NCC extends sincere appreciation to all bronze sponsors: Science, Economics and Insights Division, Department of Planning and Environment; Saving our Species Program, NSW Government; Western Sydney University and Eco Logical Australia. 

You can learn more about the NCC Bushfire Program, including past conferences, here:

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