AUGUST 23, 2019
by Jane Faure-Brac, Australian National University
An experiment from The Australian National University (ANU) using artificial trees has attracted birds and other wildlife never before seen in a damaged Canberra landscape—catching them on camera at the same time.
The experiment is a collaboration with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and uses a series of power poles and translocated dead trees erected in landscape under regeneration.
The ANU researchers saw a four-fold increase in bird species on five recently erected power-poles. There was also a seven-fold increase in bird species across five re-purposed dead trees.
In a separate project on the same site, the birds were captured on motion-sensitive cameras hidden in the artificial structures, with the footage providing a public database for species activity.
Associate Professor Philip Gibbons from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society wanted to test whether artificial structures could be used to provide a home for birds and other wildlife when mature trees were cut down for residential and other development.
He says the artificial trees work better than he "could have ever hoped for."
"Even if we plant new trees elsewhere to replace those we knock down they take a century to mature and develop suitable habitats for birds and wildlife," Associate Professor Gibbons said.