The Nature Conservation Council’s Safe Havens Project is supporting the post bushfire recovery of Owls and hollow-dependent threatened species across the Richmond-Clarence Lowlands of northern NSW.
The project commenced in mid 2023 supported by funding through NSW Governments Environmental Trust major grants program.
A passive acoustic monitoring network using 35+ Song Meters across 18 properties is listening out for owls and arboreal mammals with a particular focus on monitoring the post-fire recovery of the Barking Owl population. So far Powerful Owls, Masked Owls and Barking Owls have all been recorded and there are indications breeding pairs which were impacted during the bushfires are reestablishing home ranges where no breeding has been recorded in recent years.
So far 168 nestboxes have been installed to provide immediate habitat for gliders and possums in areas heavily impacted by loss of hollow bearing trees. Many of the nestboxes are being occupied by Squirrel Gliders which are an important prey species for large forest owls and their recovery will aid the recovery of owls in the project area. A total of 400 boxes will be installed during the project.
The project held its first community workshop on Saturday 11th of November 2023, northwest of Port Macquarie, with landholders and local agencies involved in the project.
The first workshop was held at Korinderie Ridge Cooperative, a magical property with old growth habitats, resident owls, and ocean views.
There were around 35 attendees, who were there to learn more about large forest owls, their habitat requirements and the impacts from the 2019/20 bushfires.
Todd Soderquist, Senior Threatened Species Officer with DPE, and Dave Milledge, Wildlife Ecologist and owl specialist shared the results of their research into owls and highlighted the need for further research to improve our knowledge of owl populations and action to conserve their habitat.
Pete Knock, Large Forest Owls Coordinator provided an overview of the Passive Acoustic Monitoring program NCC have been running since 2019, which highlighted the impacts the bushfires have had on resident owl populations.
Marcus Ferguson, Bunjalung man, and cultural advisory with Jagun Alliance, shared his knowledge of cultural fire and the way country speaks to you and the need for us to listen.
Learn more about the Large Forest Owls – Safe Havens Project, the importance of owls, impacts from the fires, access images, sound recordings and more here: https://www.nature.org.au/owls_project