Leonard - amazing microbat box maker.

Leonard – amazing microbat box maker.

Mario - who made nesting box palaces.  They all have myna baffles.

Mario – who made nesting box palaces. They all have myna baffles.

Stuart & another Men's Shed member working on a nesting box.

Stuart & another Men’s Shed member working on a nesting box.

Marrickville Council mapped what they call the ‘Urban Biodiversity Mosaic’ in 2011.   The Urban Biodiversity Mosaic refers to all parks, reserves, other open space, streets, verges, schools, church grounds, bush pockets & backyards in the municipality that support wildlife. Unfortunately I am unable to find it on Council’s website, though this is not to say it is not there.

My reaction when I looked at the map in 2011 was that all the areas that provided habitat for wildlife seemed to be on the edges of the municipality – the Cooks River & Marrickville Golf Course, The Greenway & along the other railway lines, plus Tempe Reserve & the Tempe Wetlands. Every other marked area of biodiversity was a dot sparsely scattered throughout the municipality. There was no connectivity – just little islands.

Over time I have noticed that the school grounds are repositories for trees & indeed, had more trees & larger, older trees than most of our parks.

Recently I posted about the research by Darren Le Roux from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions & the Australian National University about the loss of old trees with natural hollows in both Australia & worldwide.

His research is alarming. “Australia could lose 87% of its hollow-bearing trees in the urban landscape over the next 300-years.  Under the worst case scenario, we could lose all large hollow-bearing trees within the next 115-years.” It can take a tree anything from 120-200 years to create a hollow suitable for wildlife.

About 350 Australian animals species use hollows for either roosting or nesting. Nearly 20% of Australian birds use hollows in some way. For 60% of these, hollows are essential.

If native wildlife dependent on tree hollows cannot access these, then their numbers will decline & many will face extinction.  Our environment will be worse off for this & may never recover.

A municipality may have a large urban forest, but if these trees mainly consist of small trees, then their benefit to wildlife is also small.

Marrickville municipality has one of the smallest canopy covers in Australia at just 16.3% & almost half of our street trees are 5.3 meters tall or less. Therefore, there is a housing crisis for hollow dependent wildlife. Marrickville Council is trying to rectify this by creating ‘habitat trees’ rather than removing trees that pose a risk, but this will take time. See – http://bit.ly/1bTy5LW

Now I want to tell you about a joint project between the Men’s Shed at The Bower in the Addison Road Centre, Inner West WIRES & Saving Our Trees.

Last winter the men at the Men’s Shed kindly agreed to make some nesting boxes for birds & microbats so that these could be offered as a gift to schools. I have expanded this to include organizations & other suitable places to improve the habitat for local wildlife.

It has been an enjoyable experience for me. The guys at the Men’s Shed (who are all volunteers) were great & very helpful. I visited them most weeks & also got to know some of the staff at The Bower, as the Men’s Shed is located inside The Bower building.

The Bower & the Men’s Shed supported this plan so much so that they decided to supply the materials for the boxes for free, which was enormously kind of them. The Men’s Shed has some tools, but not what was needed to make the boxes without a lot of unnecessary sweat & toil, so I purchased some of the tools they needed.

The designs were supplied & the men put their own touches to the nesting boxes. I am very happy with the quality of the boxes. They are sturdy, safe & should last many years, which is great for the wildlife that claims these as homes. They also look good.

My husband also made a number of nesting boxes over his summer holidays.

Inner West WIRES are local volunteers that rescue & care for injured native Australian wildlife before releasing them back into the environment. They are very busy with this work so I was thrilled when they offered to give a free talk to the students of any school that receives any of these nesting boxes.

Depending on what they have in care, they may be able to bring wildlife for the children to see while they learn about the value of wildlife, trees & the benefits of nesting boxes. The content of the talk & whether wildlife is included is something the school can discuss with Inner West WIRES.

To raise funds for the Men’s Shed & for Inner West WIRES & to thank them for their generosity in this project, I have made some quilts that I am auctioning on Facebook. Also in the auction is a fantastic quilt donated by a friend of mine Liz.

100% of money raised from the sale of these quilts will be donated to the Men’s Shed & Inner West WIRES. Both these organizations do terrific work & the money donated will be used to continue their good work. Money raised for Inner West WIRES will go to the costs of feeding wildlife in their care, which is covered by the volunteers.

The quilts are being auctioned here.  All details included – https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1637858529762728.1073741829.1529097673972148&type=1

So now is the time to get these out into the environment.  If you are interested in having some nesting boxes in the grounds of your school, church or other organization that has a suitable tree/s please contact me – Jacqueline at savingourtrees@gmail.com & I will deliver them.  If I remember correctly I have 33 boxes left, so first in first served.  Some boxes have already been donated.

My profound thanks to The Bower, The Men’s Shed, Inner West WIRES & to Liz for your help. I really appreciate your involvement, your skills, as well as your generosity & support. This could not have happened without you. I also thank my two friends who have graciously stored the boxes for me. I am very grateful for this support.   Jacqueline

quilt 1 - 'Delicious'

quilt 1 – ‘Delicious’

Quilt 2 - 'Pollen'

Quilt 2 – ‘Pollen’

Quilt 3 - 'Rose Garden'

Quilt 3 – ‘Rose Garden’

Quilt 4 - 'Spring Dawn'

Quilt 4 – ‘Spring Dawn’

Quilt 5 - 'Apples' - made & donated by Liz Cakes.  Find her on Facebook.

Quilt 5 – ‘Apples’ – made & donated by Liz Cakes – a local professional cake maker.  Find her on Facebook under Liz Cakes.