Larger glider ‘Goldilocks Boxes’ to provide protection after Black Summer burn

The Black Summer bushfires devastated larger glider habitat in southeastern Australia, but researchers hope a new nest box will help them recover.

There is hope that a modified nesting option will help increase the number of larger gliders in Gippsland as the forest begins to regenerate about 18 months later.

Research fellow Kara Youngentob of the Australian National University said about a third of the gliders’ southern habitat was severely burned by the fires.

“But in some cases it will be so extreme that the drought and heat wave and previous fires will keep them from coming back.”

This female, nicknamed Gertie, had burnt legs and was nursed back to health by volunteers.Supplied: George Lemann/WWF Australia

A more advanced solution

A more advanced nesting box has been developed as part of a study being conducted by the World Wildlife Fund – Australia, Greening Australia and the Australian National University.

It will provide alternative shelter for natural cavities in old trees.

“It can take anywhere from 50 to 100 years for trees to form those cavities and we lose those trees and landscapes.”

The boxes are fully insulated, which will protect the gliders from extreme temperatures.

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WWF endangered species ecologist Kita Ashman said larger gliders needed special nest boxes because they had thermal requirements.

“Basically, they can’t get too hot or too cold,” said Dr. Ashman.

“So I affectionately called these nest boxes ‘Goldilocks boxes’ because they keep the gliders at the perfect temperature to become more resilient to the changing climate.”

glider box
Brad Blake installs a nest box in East Gippsland.Supplied: Tim Clark/WWF Australia

Boxes ready to nest

120 boxes have been mounted in fire-stricken woodlands in Tallaganda National Park and state forest in New South Wales, and a further 120 near Bendoc in East Gippsland.

Larger gliders are listed as vulnerable by the Australian Conservation Foundation, with their population declining by 80 percent in just 20 years.

Drought, extreme heat and logging have impacted population numbers in East Gippsland.

dr. Yougentob said that while the nest boxes can be a useful temporary measure, more needs to be done to ensure the conservation of the species.

“But I see this as a temporary measure to restore those populations as the forests grow back.

“If we can hopefully take a break for a few years, then the forests have a chance to recover.”

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