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Four-year study shows native wildlife finding happy home in Lake Mac

Lake Macquarie’s glider population is growing despite recent fires and drought, with a four-year research project showing a steady increase in activity. ( Above: Rainbow Lorikeets use insulated nesting boxes)


The Lake Macquarie City Council-funded study by University of Technology Sydney PhD student Reannan Honey, which came to an end last week, involved monitoring sugar and squirrel glider communities at 25 sites across the City.

“The glider population has increased steadily since I first started trapping in 2017, and I recorded 47 new gliders this year – 29 sugar gliders and 18 squirrel gliders,” Ms Honey said.

Motion-sensing cameras set up in specially made nest boxes have also revealed a range of other native wildlife frequenting tracts of bush bordering suburbia.

“I’ve recorded rainbow lorikeets, eastern rosellas, scaly breasted lorikeets, squirrel gliders and feathertail gliders all using both insulated and uninsulated nest boxes,” Ms Honey said.

Owls and brushtail possums are among the other creatures captured checking out the arboreal accommodation.

Most heartening of all was the survival of glider populations in fire-affected research bushland near Cooranbong.

Ms Honey said she feared the worst after a fire tore through the area in December 2019, but monitoring last month showed gliders had either survived the blaze or returned after fleeing.

“It's amazing we are still detecting them on-site – I was so excited about it,” she said.

Council Manager Environmental Systems Tim Browne said today’s World Environment Day was an opportunity to celebrate Lake Mac’s diverse natural assets, and focus on valuing and preserving them.

“Ms Honey’s research shows how native wildlife is thriving in Lake Macquarie,” Mr Browne said.

“We must do what we can to ensure that continues.”

Council has undertaken more than 103ha of bushland regeneration across the City in the past 12 months.

More than 89,000 local native plants have been planted to help re-establish healthy ecosystems and restore habitat.

Mr Browne said a separate project to stabilise 250m of stream-bank at Crockers Creek in Jewells had significantly improved stream and catchment health.

Other environmental projects completed in the 2019-20 financial year include:

  • 3ha of wetland and saltmarsh restoration at Bonnells Bay and Belmont

  • 0.5ha of coastal dune restoration at Swansea Heads, Caves Beach and Belmont

  • 0.8ha of foreshore rehabilitation works at Eraring, Buttaba and Marks Point

  • 17.5ha of post-fire ecosystem recovery at Buttaba, Highfields and Swansea Heads

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