Posted on 04th October 2019 by Media Relations
Today is World Habitat Day – a day to celebrate the vital role that habitats play in providing shelter for native wildlife and people. At Taronga, a special program – Taronga is Habitat – has been running for quite some time. The goal of the program is to create, support and enhance the presence of native wildlife within the Zoo grounds. Currently, there are a small number of long-nosed bandicoots, three species of micro-bats and a population of Australian Brush-turkeys living within the Zoo.
There are several ways in which you can also help create a habitat in your garden or balcony. A habitat garden isn’t just a space that serves as a sanctuary for native animals, but a space for you and your family to reconnect with nature. Research shows that just 10 minutes outside surrounded by nature can help improve health and wellbeing. Green spaces are also a great way to get children outdoors and fuel their sense of discovery and adventure through nature play.
Imagine your small habitat garden slowly growing into a larger-scale ecosystem as your neighbours, street, local schools and community gets involved in creating and connecting their own habitat gardens together.
Below are five easy ways in which you can create your own habitat garden.
Native flowering plants:
One of the easiest ways to create a productive habitat in your garden is by planting lots of native, flowering trees, shrubs and herbs. Different native plants will attract different types of animals, birds and insects to your garden. For example, natives that produce larger flowers will attract large native birds that can be more aggressive, while natives that produce smaller flowers will often attract smaller birds. For best results, consider planting natives that produce a range of different coloured flowers.
You don’t need a large space to create a habitat garden. There are several native herbs and shrubs that can also be planted in small spaces like balconies to help attract birds, insects and pollinators. A small bowl with water, rocks or sticks can also be used to provide a drink station for bees and butterflies.
Contact your local council, plant nursery or green group for information on what types of native plants would be best for your area.
Native bee hotel:
There are over 1500 species of native bees in Australia, with about 200 different species found in Sydney alone. Most Australian native bees live solitary lives unlike their more popular cousins, the European honeybees. Planting native flowering trees and shrubs is a great way to attract native bees (and other pollinators) to your garden. Another great way to attract native bees is by building a bee hotel and putting it in a sunny but protected spot in your garden.
Instructions on how to make a bee hotel can be found online and is a great activity to do with children during school holidays. It can take a few months before native bees settle into the hotel so keep an eye out for when the hotel gets busy.
Rocks and log shelters:
Another great way to attract native animals to your garden is by leaving rocks, logs and leaf litter in spots around the garden that get sun. The rocks and logs will provide spots for lizards to bask and hide in while the leaf litter will attract insects for them (and other native animals) to feed on.
Creating a backyard pond that is surrounded by native aquatic grasses and plants, rocks, logs and reeds is a great way to attract native animals such as frogs, dragonflies, native lizards and small birds to your backyard. A general rule of thumb is that the larger the pond, the more animals it can support.
If you are planning to create a pond in your backyard, we recommend that you speak to your neighbours first as some native frogs have very loud calls that might be disruptive at night. Speak to your local council about how to care for and maintain your pond as frogs are very susceptible to disease and infection.
Many Australian native animals such as birds and bats nest and roost in tree hollows and cracks. However, many old trees are currently being lost due to urban development. Installing nest boxes is a great way to provide native animals with a place to stay. There are many different nest box designs available depending on the species you wish to attract. Building and installing nest boxes is another great project to get children involved in.