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Nest boxes installed along the North Coast have provided habitat for wildlife impacted by the Black Summer Bushfires 2019-2020 and helped rebuild hope in the community, Charles Sturt University (CSU) researchers have found.
CSU assisted North Coast Regional Landcare to evaluate the program Habitat Recovery for Hollow-Dependent Fauna that created nest boxes and carved hollows for species reliant on hollow-bearing trees.
CSU lecturers in Environmental Management, Dr Alexandra Knight and Ms Jessica Leck, have helped evaluate the program both ecologically and socially and developed guidelines for future nest box and artificial hollow programs.
Dr Knight said CSU worked with the local Landcare groups to evaluate the benefits of installing the nest boxes to help fauna recolonise.
"We worked with Landcare groups from Port Macquarie to the Queensland border to help them assess the impact of creating and installing over 1000 nest boxes and carved hollows so that fauna has refuges to retreat to," Dr knight said.
"While over time bushland will often regenerate after fires, hollow trees can take hundreds of years to grow back which means the homes of hundreds of hollow-bearing animal species are decimated.
Ms Leck said working closely with local Landcare representatives also made the researchers aware that the program had social benefits.
"Participants in the program spoke to us of the hope and joy that they felt when seeing wildlife starting to use the artificial hollows and nest boxes, and how working together as a community restored social connections and alleviated the stresses caused by these extreme environmental events," Ms Leck said.
Having brought together data for over 1,100 nest boxes and hollows, CSU now aims to source additional funding for ongoing monitoring of artificial hollow and evaluation of the social benefits of community-based conservation.
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