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Habitat stacks

Ecological restoration is an important process for habitat recovery worldwide.

Habitat stacks

Article and Images by Natural Areas Offset Officer, Sunshine Coast Council

Ecological restoration is an important process for habitat recovery worldwide. It provides vital structure and resources for a diversity of biota and ecological processes. Vegetation restoration is a first step in ecological restoration and habitat recovery. However, in the short term it often lacks some key biological resources that characterise an established and biodiverse natural ecosystem (Vesk et al., 2008; Munro et al., 2009).

The revegetation of degraded land has been undertaken now for several decades. Nest box installation has developed which addresses lost arboreal habitat. However what has been missing and not often considered is the replacement of on-ground habitat or terrestrial habitat.

Coarse woody debris (CWD) is generally absent from woody ecosystems where restoration actions have recently been initiated. This is because natural accumulation can be very slow, ranging from decades to centuries (Sturtevant et al., 1997; Vandekerkhove et al., 2009; Killey et al., 2010). By definition, larger pieces of CWD are rarer than smaller pieces because they take longer to form (Sturtevant et al., 1997; Dahlstrom et al., 2005).

For more information on constructed habitat stacks for fauna recovery within vegetation offset projects view here

Facts about coarse woody debris

  • large woody material contains very significant long term stores of carbon. The carbon is slowly released as it decays in the forest (Stevens, Victoria, 1997)
  • a primary energy source is the foundation of an important forest food web. As large size material usually decays more slowly it provides a more steady input of energy and nutrients and longer-lasting structures (Stevens, Victoria, 1997)
  • acts as refugia during disturbance and environmental stress (e.g. low moisture and temperature extremes); temperature moderation and moisture retention
  • when CWD is added to the ecosystem at regular intervals and is well distributed, it represents a long term source of nutrients (Harmon et al.,1994)
  • soil health is a result of the myriad of biological organisms and interactions that are part of the forest ecosystem we call soil. This involves soil arthropods, fungi, bacteria, animal waste and among other things, decaying wood. (Harmon et al., 1994).

View the following videos to see how habitat stacks are made. Learn how this will help to address climate change and is fast tracking by more than 200 years the recovery of land back to healthy habitat with abundant native wildlife.

Habitat stack construction part 1: kick-starting the food chain

Habitat stack construction part 2: beneficial fungus, animal refuge and carbon pooling