Habitat hollows are cavities that are formed in the trunk or branches of a tree. Hollows usually start forming due to insect damage or a fungal attack. This will create the hollow internally but access from the outside will usually only happen if the tree has some kind of external damage like being struck by lightening, fire damage or pruning. Once the inside is exposed, it will start to dry out and crack. Fungi begins to grow within these cracks, feeding on the wood and continuing the process of hollowing out the tree. This process takes a very long time, usually over 100 years, so natural habitat hollows are not found in young trees.
Who’s in the hollow?
Hollows are used by many species of animals for shelter and protection. There are some animals that need to live in hollows in order to survive, which is why habitat hollows are of the utmost importance to our Australian wildlife. These animals are called ‘hollow-dependent’ animals. They may need the hollow every day for shelter or they may need it seasonally for nesting. Hollow-dependent species include birds (such as owls), mammals (such as possums) and reptiles (like frogs and lizards). Having hollows in your old trees helps our wildlife by providing a home, and lets you enjoy these wonderful creatures in your own back yard.
An alternative to tree removal
Creating man-made habitat hollows in old or dead trees is becoming increasingly popular amongst home owners as an alternative to tree removal. Creating a natural feature which attracts native wildlife can add value to the home because of the enhanced character and environment a hollow creates. We’re very fortunate to have many backyards, school grounds, and businesses with Eucalypts which are ideal for creating habitat hollows.
100 years work in a day
That’s right, something that takes over 100 years to form naturally can be created by a qualified Arborist in just one day.
First of all, contact your Arborist to do a full assessment of the tree (make sure they’re trained and certified to undertake assessments). They’ll look for the start of any existing hollows, and by pruning the tree in the right way might be able to accelerate a natural hollow. If there’s no existing internal hollows, they’ll survey the tree trunk or branches and decide on the best placement to create a hollow. The Arborist will take into consideration the kind of animals you wish to attract, or what wildlife is local to your area. This will be the deciding factor for the size, shape and height on the tree for the hollow.
Once your Arborist has selected a suitable placement on the tree, they’ll carefully create the hollow using precise chainsaw techniques and create a faceplate from the existing bark to cover the hollow. This will be the ‘front door’ of the animals’ new home. Check out a habitat hollow we recently created for a client.
If you’re interested in creating a habitat hollow in your yard, contact us to arrange a consultation.