The value of natural tree hollows for Australian fauna

Nothing beats the hollows of old alive or dead trees for offering natural habitat, safety, breeding and roosting space for any number of animals.

What makes a tree hollow?King Parrot Male Guanaba

Ageing, natural fungal decay, insect attack and bushfire create hollows in a handful of Australian tree species that become home to a range of Australian fauna.

Tree hollows take some 100 to 150 years to form in an Australian tree. Long-lived Australian eucalypts are some of the most likely species to form tree hollows.

Example species that form hollows include:
– River red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
– Manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis)
– Mountain grey gum (Eucalyptus cypellocarpa)
– Yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora)
– Brush box (Lophostemon confertus)*
– Antarctic beech (Nothofagus moorei)
– Flooded (or Rose) gum (Eucalyptus grandis)*
– White mahogany (Eucalyptus acmenoides)*
– Grey gum (Eucalyptus biturbinata)*.

National Parks and Wildlife Service NSW: Natural tree hollows: essential for wildlife (PDF)

*Found in the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct

How do animals use tree hollows?Rosella Crimson Guanaba

In Australia, some 17 per cent of bird species, 42 per cent of mammals and 28 per cent of reptiles use tree hollows.

The significant range of fauna using hollows includes bats, possums, gliders, owls, parrots, antechinus, ducks, rosellas, kingfishers, snakes, frogs and a range of lizards. In South East Queensland, up to 130 species need tree hollows to survive.

Land for Wildlife Queensland: The Value of Habitat Trees (PDF)

Hollows come in various sizes, from 2cm to 30cm. This size difference provides habitat for a range of animal species. The smaller entrances are used by animals, such as bats no larger than 10 grams, while the bigger entrances are used by larger animals, such as the Powerful Owl, the Glossy Black Cockatoo and possums.

Department of Environment and Climate Change: Hollow bearing trees (PDF)

There is a variety of reasons animals use tree hollows, including for shelter, nesting, roosting and foraging. Tree hollows are especially crucial for species that need them for nesting and roosting, including a range of threatened species.

The number of tree hollows required by animalsRainbow Lorikeets Guanaba

As a guide, there needs to be between 3 and 10 hollow-bearing trees producing up to 30 tree hollows per hectare to provide adequate habitat and guarantee the health and genetic diversity of a range of species.

National Parks and Wildlife Service NSW: Natural tree hollows: essential for wildlife (PDF)

The right landscape is vital to producing the necessary number of tree hollows and hollow varieties to house animals from different species as well as animals from the same species.

National Parks and Wildlife Service NSW: Natural tree hollows: essential for wildlife (PDF)

Threats to tree-hollow wildlifeCockatoo White Guanaba

A number of species use dead trees with livable hollows. Dead trees last only for a decade, sometimes a little longer, and provide short-term habitat for animals dependent on them. If human activity reduces forest area, fewer supporting trees are available to create future hollows. Reduction in hollow habitat puts dependent wildlife under stress, which can affect their numbers and lead to local species collapse / extinction.

Eco Magazine: Trees and non-flying mammals: a hollow understanding

Nesting boxes are often used as tree-hollow replacements. But are they adequate compensation for the loss of hollow-bearing trees, where the loss of the tree could be and should be avoided?

“Increasingly, artificial hollows (nest or roost boxes) are being installed to compensate for the loss of hollow-bearing trees. However, there is much debate about how effective nest boxes are as replacements for natural hollows … It is clear that nest boxes should not be used to justify the removal of hollow-bearing trees or unsustainable forestry practices.”

Eco Magazine: Trees and non-flying mammals: a hollow understandingEgernia mcpheii Guanaba

We’ve just scratched the surface of what tree hollows provide and how they’re used by Australian fauna.

We have a good understanding of the effects threats to hollow habitat can have on species numbers. This understanding makes the protection of good, healthy natural hollows vital for the safety and diversity of an amazing range of our native animals.

More information:

Wires Northern Rivers: Tree hollows and nestboxes

Western Australian Museum: Veteran and stag trees

Guanaba Experience entertainment park – next door to people’s homes

Entertainment parks aren’t normally built right next to people’s homes. So why should this entertainment park be allowed to do just that, despite the guidelines under the Planning Scheme making this type of development out of place for the area?

The Guanaba Experience development application proposes to develop an entertainment park next door to where people live.

The residents of the area live there based on an understanding the area in question: 196/98-196 Guanaba Road, Tamborine Mountain, would be protected under the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct within the Tamborine Mountain Zone.

The guidelines under the Planning Scheme were a guarantee that any development on the property would fit within the area’s quiet, rural culture.

Residents didn’t bank on a development application that contradicts the guidelines and proposes to introduce a business completely at odds with the reasons people came to live in such an out-of-the-way, peaceful rural setting.

The Guanaba Experience entertainment park puts zip lines (flying foxes), camp sites, rope climbs, a restaurant, a bike shop, toilet facilities, mountain bike training and more on the doorstep of the area’s residents.

This is not generally what entertainment parks do; other entertainment parks have set up in remote areas, where residents aren’t impacted by the noise and traffic associated these businesses.

Guanaba Experience satellite image

Guanaba Experience with zip lines, camp sites and more next to people’s homes.

 

 

 

 

 

Scenic Rim Adventure Park

Scenic Rim

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some examples of adventure parks away from people’s homes  …

Hollybank Treetops Adventure

Hollybank

1. Scenic Rim Adventure Park: Off the beaten track in Queensland. Offers extreme downhill mountain biking, campsites and will soon have zip lines, abseiling and a rope course.

2.. Hollybank Treetop Adventure: Zip lines in Tasmania away from residents.

3. Treetop Adventure Park: Zip lines on the NSW Central Coast with one or two rural residences.

4. Otway Fly Treetop Adventures: Zip lines in NSW in a remote location.

5. Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours: Zip lines in Queensland.

6. Jubes Mountain Bike Park: Mountain bike trails in NSW.

Jubes Mountain Bike Park NSW

Jubes

7. Eagle Mountain Bike Park: Mountain bike trails in SA.

8. Emu Creek Eco Retreat: $5 entry for downhill and trail mountain bikes, camping and 4WDs in NSW.

9. The list goes on …

All of the above parks have only one or two entertainment offerings. Guanaba Experience puts many more offerings together, creating a collection of noises.

So why should Guanaba Experience be allowed to go against current Tamborine Mountain zoning and develop a business outside community expectations and negatively impacting on residents in the area?

Treetop Adventure Park satellite image showing no houses nearby

Treetop

Why should it be entitled to change people’s lifestyles (people who thought themselves protected by the current Planning Scheme) while providing no rationale for why the current zoning should be changed?

Info on the Tamborine Mountain zoning code (PDF, 1.1mb)

See the environmental concerns with such a park: Precious Guanaba flora and fauna

See Save Guanaba Facebook page