Creating stepping stones to healthier habitats
Creating stepping stones to healthier habitats


Creating stepping stones to healthier habitats

More than half of Australia’s threatened species occur within the urban fringe: Sydney alone is home to 68 threatened birds, 28 threatened mammals and five threatened frogs. For residents concerned about disappearing wildlife the scale of the issue can be overwhelming, but a new online tool is helping to create wildlife-friendly stopovers between existing corridors.

The team at Macquarie’s Australian Research Institute for Environment and Sustainability (ARIES) have developed a simple tool that allows people to create effective habitat stepping stones in their urban backyards.

“The Habitat Stepping Stones website provides an engaging online tool that showcases dozens of attractive habitat elements (such as plants, birdbaths and nesting boxes) that are specifically selected for each local government area,” explains Jessica North, Director of ARIES.

“When someone pledges to add three or more to their place, they can choose to have a bird added to their property on the online map, and they receive a colourful aluminium plaque for their property’s front fence – and often free plants and discounts from local suppliers as well.”

The program combines simplicity, technology, social media, public recognition and a touch of gamification with the goal of overcoming barriers and motivating lasting behaviour change. It won the 2015 National Trust Heritage Award for Conservation of Natural Landscape and has recently been chosen as a success story by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

Ms North says that 13 councils in New South Wales and Queensland have joined the program, with more than 500 people pledging to add in excess of 4000 habitat elements.

“Ninety-eight per cent of surveyed respondents say they are likely to continue to add habitat elements to their gardens in future, which means the program is creating lasting change,” Ms North says.

Supporters agree:

“We have been adding piles of rocks, kangaroo grass, banksias and grevillea. Wanting to make a ladybug house with the kids before the end of the holidays. Loving it.” SW on Facebook

“I am sitting on the back step drinking my morning coffee and listening to such a variety of birds, last night I sat drinking my tea listening to frogs. The Habitat Stepping Stones project has, in one year, totally changed my urban backyard.” LT on Facebook

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