World Habitat Day: Home is where the hollow is
This year World Habitat Day will be celebrated on October 7, a day designated by the United Nations (external link) to reflect on the state of our cities and towns and the human right to adequate shelter. But of course the homes of our native fauna and flora also deserve to be recognised and protected.
That’s why for this World Habitat Day we’ve chosen to celebrate the amazing world of tree hollows. And to help us, author Abbie Mitchell has written a beautiful new children’s book entitled A Hollow is a Home.
In A Hollow is a Home Abbie explains how hollows are created, why they are threatened, and she also provides plenty of tips on how you can spot hollows yourself (they are all around you, we promise!) As well as the incredible animals that call them home, we also meet some of the scientists who spend their time hollow-hunting too.
What is a tree hollow?
To you and me a tree hollow may just look like a hole or a tunnel in a tree or branch. But to an animal that hollow may be a hiding place, a bedroom or even a nursery. They are quite literally a tree house! And like most real estate in Australia, finding a hollow home can be a competitive process, so protecting them for as many species as possible, is vital.
Nature’s apartment block
Who needs a hollow? Well incredibly more than 340 Australian species use hollows as a shelter or home. Mammals such as gliders, possums and quolls, and bird species like parrots, owls and falcons, as well as a plethora of reptiles and frogs.
But hollows aren’t just the home of mammals and birds – fish call them home too. No, fish have not taught themselves to climb trees! Rather when a branch falls from an old tree, a new habitat is born. When these branches are submerged in water they are called snags, and all sorts of aquatic life depend on them.
A world of hollows
It’s not just Australian animal species that call hollows home. There’s a whole world of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds, invertebrates and fish that rely on hollows.
Hollows form, change and disappear naturally, however many things that humans do can lead to habitat loss, leaving animals without safe homes. Firewood collection, and logging for timber and paper, can negatively impact our animals – they may lose their home or food source.
And while nothing beats a natural hollow, when hollows are scarce, nesting boxes can be a handy substitute. Become a hollow hero and position a nest box, or several boxes of different sizes, in your garden.
So on World Habitat Day (or any other day of the year) we hope you take the time to look up, down and around, and discover and appreciate the amazing world of tree hollows.
And if you’d like to discover more, Abbie Mitchell’s book A Hollow is a Home is available now through bookshops or you can order online via our website.
About the author
Abbie Mitchell is an environmental educator who provides school and community programs to celebrate and promote Australian biodiversity. She lives in the bush with her husband, two kids, some stingless beehives and a couple of charismatic dogs – and lots of native creatures.
About the illustrator
Astred Hicks is an award-winning book designer, illustrator and author. She has been designing books for over 10 years through her Sydney-based business Design Cherry.