The squirrel glider is a small tree-loving marsupial that is struggling to survive as its habitat is being eroded by human population pressures
The Squirrel Glider project is currently being run by Charles Sturt University and the Riverina TAFE. It was funded by the Murray Catchment Management Authority through a Threatened Species and Communities grant. The squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) is classed as a vulnerable species in NSW by the Department of the Environment and Climate Change (DECC). It has declined in numbers due to loss of habitat and predation. It is to be found on the 87 Ha campus of Charles Sturt University campus at Thurgoona; typically along a treed creek line that lies to the north of the campus and which is contiguous with the Riverina TAFE's National Environment Centre. A grant received from the Murray Catchment Management Authority (CMA) allowed the following interventions to occur:
The design of the nest boxes was based on drawing given to the University from Ray Thomas of Benalla. They were construction of rough swan untreated pine timber sourced directly from the local saw mill. The critical part of the design is to use the correct hole size; in this case only 38mm in diameter. Originally 60 nest boxes were to be made but with the help from the work-for-the-dole crew in the end over 800 were produced which were subsequently sold to landcare groups and some industrial organisations keen to 'green' the environment. Some boxes were disassembled and made into packs for local schools to reassemble and us.
The gliders can become entangled in barbed wire when gliding and perish. Therefore approximately 8 km of fencing had all the barbed wire replaced and electric fencing installed.
In order to further increase habitat opportunities 10 Ha of land has been made ready for revegetation. This has consisted of spraying to kill the very tough Phalaris grass so that direct drilling of seeds can take place. Sowing is expected to occur in 2008 as there was insufficient seed available for collection in 2006 due to the drought. However, there will be planting of 1000 native trees and shrubs by students before the end of winter using tube stock. The design for the planting is being developed by students in conjunction with the TAFE
A full description of the project will be presented at the ACTS conference at Wentworth falls.