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  • Julia Steele

Habitat Trees - How much can a Koala bear?

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

Before hiring a Gold Coast tree lopper or removing old or dead trees on private property, owners may find value in consulting a qualified arborist to discuss retaining the tree for animal habitat.


Environmental Arboriculture is a relatively new concept at the frontier of saving and protecting native Australian wildlife. Habitat hollows which would naturally take 100 years or more to form are being engineered into trees by Gold Coast arborists.

 

Rainbow lorikeet utilise tree hollows for habitat

With significant building development occurring on the Gold Coast, and the removal of forested land for agricultural use, many animal species are stressed by loss of habitat.  Fortunately, property owners and Gold Coast arborists have the ability to make well informed tree care decisions that will benefit over 100 species of animals in south east Queensland. With proper tree maintenance and pruning, habitat trees may be able to remain on site and provide a wide variety of benefits for animals, property owners and the natural environment.  


Habitat trees are generally old or dead trees that have numerous hollows, cracks or crevices.  These features provide shelter from weather, protection from predators, and a place to roost and breed.  The hollows, cracks and crevices are a product of factors such as tree species, age, history and environment.  Long lived hard wood species (for example eucalyptus trees) produce desirable habitat features for a variety of species.  Like fine wine, age and history is what makes these trees rare and desirable - you cannot purchase or replace them at the nursery! 


Hollows generally form due to random external events such as bush fire damage, which allows for the introduction of fungi and chewing insects (termites).  A hollow may then be enlarged by animals using beaks, teeth or claws.  In the Gold Coast region a diversity of species utilise hollows provided by habitat trees; approximately 17% of bird species, 42% of mammals, and 28% of reptiles. Further, habitat trees promote healthy decomposer species such as fungi, ants and termites which break down forest litter and make nutrients available for other plants.  Large old trees create "micro climates" which moderate temperature, increase soil moisture content and produce nutrient rich organic material.


These trees are able to draw moisture from far greater depths, which helps reduce soil salinity during extreme heat events & drought. Pruned and maintained habitat trees make a yard more liveable for everyone.


In some instances, it may be considered unsafe for property owners to retain habitat trees, and a full tree removal may be required. Qualified arborists on the Gold Coast can determine whether a tree can be saved for habitat by the pruning of problematic limbs which may be unbalancing the tree or ready to fall off. Property owners who value animal habitat but are concerned about old or dead trees can discuss a yard management plan with an arborist that will foster the diversity of tree, promote wildlife, habitat and reduce the risk of property damage. 


Professional tree service providers on the Gold Coast should be capable of recognising and encouraging the retention and management of habitat trees.  Although tree removal may be necessary, there may be other options worth considering.  The critters will appreciate the consideration for their homes and repay the kindness in all kinds of ways!


For more information on how Gold Coast arborists are helping create habitat, see this article from the ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-15/wildlife-flocks-to-man-made-hollows-on-gold-coast/9958486

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