Men’s Shed making nesting boxes for fire-affected properties

Gerry Fitzgerald, Cherie White from Riverina Highlands Landcare Nursery and David Wren with nesting boxes made by members of the Tumut Men’s Shed.

The Riverina Highlands Landcare Nursery is offering free nesting boxes to fire-affected landholders in the region, built by members of the Tumut Men’s Shed.

The nesting boxes aim to provide shelter for native species after so many large, old trees with hollows were lost during the Dunns Road fire.

“Riverina Local Land Services has provided funding to the Men’s Shed to put the nest boxes together and they’re going to be down at the Landcare Nursery, and anyone within the fire scar or adjoining the fire scar is welcome to come and collect a couple,” Cherie White, from Riverina Highlands Landcare, said last week.

“We know that because of the fire we lost a lot of our big trees that provided habitat, and nesting sites … can take up to 100 years to create, so they are an artificial home for predominantly woodland birds and small marsupials and gliders.”

The nesting boxes are suitable for species such as gliders, possums, birds and bats who all depend on tree hollows for shelter, refuge and breeding.

They are built with different sized openings to accommodate different species, with straps that can be used to attach them to tree trunks, and are also waterproof.

“Landholders can pick them up and then erect them in trees that maybe haven’t got hollows already, or have been damaged by the fire,” Ms White said.

Men’s Shed President David Wren said that members had made about 20 nesting boxes so far, with the aim of making 80 in total.

They have worked with the Landcare Nursery in the past on a similar project, Mr Wren added, estimating that they’ve made around 150 nesting boxes in the past.

“It’s a great little partnership between landholders and the community,” Ms White said of the project.

“Doing something that the men enjoy, and it’s also addressing a real issue that we’ve got at the moment because of the fire.”

Ms White said that the results of nesting box projects can be “a little hit and miss” because it depends on whether those species are still in the area.

“They are definitely worth putting up, even for the more common species, because we’ve just lost so many trees and they’re still falling down,” she said.

“The results might not be evident for a little while but you only have to do a Google search [to] see the amount and variety of birds and small marsupials that will use them.

“It’s a very simple program that benefits everybody.”

Meanwhile, the Shed has also been hard at work making products from salvaged sugar pine timber over the last few months, which was donated to various Men’s Shed’s in the region after the loss of the Sugar Pine Forest at Laurel Hill.

Initially making bigger products like cheese boards, the Shed now only has offcuts of the sugar pine timber left, so are making smaller products.

“It’s pretty much run out,” Mr Wren said.

Last year after the fires, the Men’s Shed wanted to host an open day of some sort to thank the firefighters and frontline workers who defended the region from the Dunns Road fire.

The Covid-19 lockdown made this impossible, but the Shed is still hoping to hold an event in the future, with a garage sale, barbecue and more.

The Tumut Men’s Shed is also looking to recruit new members, who can take advantage of the various equipment available at the Shed whilst also meeting new people and socialising.

The Shed currently has 25 members, with about ten regulars.

Those wishing to join in can find the Men’s Shed at 1 Yarra Road, Tumut.