Forest Health Monitoring Project

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Since 2017, Council has been working with Parks Victoria, Nillumbik Landcare Network and local landowners to measure the health of wet/damp and dry forest remnants across the Shire. 

The Forest Health Monitoring Project is a structured wildlife monitoring program that uses remote survey techniques (such as motion-sensing cameras and acoustic recorders) to detect ‘indicator’ wildlife species that are associated with healthy and degraded forested habitats. Local residents became ‘citizen scientists’ to help identify bird species in recordings using a sound analysis program.

Continual collection of data at these and other sites across the Shire will help us assess the health of Nillumbik’s forests and track changes over time - including the impact of bushfires and climate change. 

The 30 sites are on private and public land within Nillumbik.

 

How forest health is measured

With advice from local wildlife experts and community consultation, 31 species of mammals and birds were selected as ‘indicator’ species to represent forest health. 

Mammals

  • Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa)
  • Slender-tailed Dunnart (Sminthopsis murina)
  • Long-nosed Bandicoot (Perameles nasuta)
  • Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis)

Birds

  • Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang)
  • White-throated Nightjar (Eurostopodus mystacalis)
  • Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)
  • Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera)
  • White-eared Honeyeater (Nesoptilotis leucotis)
  • Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus)
  • Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua)
  • Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae)
  • Crested Shriketit (Falcunculus frontatus)
  • White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis)
  • Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons)
  • Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis)
  • Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis)
  • Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus)
  • White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea)
  • Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla)
  • Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus)
  • Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum)
  • Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)
  • Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
  • Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook)
  • Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys)
  • Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris)
  • Jacky Winter (Microeca fascinans)
  • White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus)
  • Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum)
  • Red-browed Treecreeper (Climacteris erythrops)

Results 

More than 70,000 camera images were taken between 2017 and 2022 and identified:

  • 29 species of native and two non-native birds
  • 11 species of native and nine non-native mammals
  • three species of native reptiles 
  • one native butterfly.

From the list of indicator species, we created acoustic recognisers for 16 species. Citizen scientists and experts validated the results of seven of those. The Southern Boobook and the White-throated Treecreeper were the most common indicator species detected by acoustic recordings – present at 31 and 29 sites respectively. The Powerful Owl was the rarest, detected at only three sites.

Listen to some of the recordings

Pictures taken

An echidna in Hurstbridge -

A screenshot of an echidna at the forest floor

Phascogale in Plenty Gorge

A black and white picture of camera footage of a Phascogale

Superb Lyrebird in Kinglake

A superb lyrebird stands on a log

Wombat in Hurstbridge

Black and white image of a wombat at night