Out of the box: Torquay Men’s Shed provides wildlife a place to call home

26 October 2017

Torquay Men’s Shed has teamed up with Surf Coast Shire Council in a project that will help native possums and bats in Grasstree Park Nature Reserve.

Local men’s shed members have built 40 nest boxes specifically designed for native possums and bats. The nest boxes – to be placed in various locations in the Torquay reserve – are optimal for the animals’ feeding, roosting and breeding behaviours.  

Part of the Grasstree Park Nature Reserve Masterplan, the project underpins one of the masterplan’s goals – to improve habitat for native fauna.

“The number of old trees with hollows are declining in urban areas such as Torquay, which leaves fewer places for hollow-dependent native wildlife species to rest and breed,” Winchelsea Ward Councillor Carol McGregor said.

“Nest boxes placed into trees give species such as possums and bats a safe and dry place.”

There are at least two possum species (Common Brushtail and Common Ringtail) and four bat species (Chocolate Wattled, Lesser-long eared, Large Forest and Little Forest) known to occur at Grasstree Park.

Bats which utilise the new boxes will play their role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. They will assist with mosquito management, as a microbat can eat up to 1200 mosquitoes in an hour.

The Grasstree Park Nature Reserve Masterplan will also improve native vegetation and weed management, while a new carpark and reserve entry on Messmate Road will be constructed.

Winchelsea Ward Councillor Heather Wellington said there was a focus on making the reserve more accessible for residents and visitors.

“Pathways, seating and nature walks are all part of the plan, and will make Grasstree Park an attractive space for people looking to experience the outdoors,” Cr Wellington said.

“A revegetation program has also started, with indigenous plants to be grown.”

Coast Tea-tree, a recognised weed in the area, will be removed over time as more shrubs and trees are planted. While the new trees are growing, artificial nest boxes will help provide habitat for native wildlife.

The Grass Tree Park Masterplan is a collaboration between community members, stakeholders and Surf Coast Shire Council. It was endorsed by Council in August 2016 to guide the protection of the significant environmental asset.