Experiencing Sustainability in the ACT

In order to not only educate myself on actions to protect biodiversity, I also used this opportunity to gain work experience to immerse myself in the sustainable community where I’m residing. In this past semester, I worked with the Bruce Hall Sustainable Committee in efforts to educate the college on sustainable awareness as well as an activity to build a garden on our quad. I also tagged along with Dr Phil Gibbons to partake in an 6- year ongoing bird survey in the ACT.

Bringing Sustainability Into the Community 

On September 18th, the Bruce Hall Sustainability Subcommittee hosted a talk and an activity to encourage sustainable awareness in a college setting. Within the presentation, topics such as the effects of livestock on the environment, and ultimately biodiversity in places such as the Amazon Rainforest, the importance of a sustainable conscious during this day and age, and the value of green space. I found this discussion extremely successful, because a majority of those who attended were interested in preservation and sustainable topics, but were never exposed to issues such as these. In order to meet Australia’s proposed sustainable goals, it will depend on the generation we discussed these topics with to not only protect Australia’s environment, but the global environment as well.

Bruce Gets More Green!

In addition to a discussion with other residents in our college, we then initiated our project to build a garden within Bruce’s quad. upon learning the importance of green space, especially in urban setting such as on the ANU campus, we spent our day constructing our very own. Green spaces are vital for both the environment’s sake as well as the benefits it provides to people. Vegetation becomes habitat for a variation of insects, or even small animals and birds in some settings. Although our garden was small, it was the action and connection to the environment that we were trying to encourage onto other people, to make them more conscious towards the environment, biodiversity, and ecosystems in the future.

A few Bruce Hall Sustainability Committee members with the newly built garden.

Bird Surveying In The ACT 

On a cold and early morning of October 5th, I joined a group of students led by Dr Phil Gibbons to participate in an ongoing study of birds and their habitats. This study looks at trees in three different settings, rural, suburban, and city, and observes three stages of trees; young, medium, and mature. The purpose is to record the number of visits on the tree, and the number of species that visit it in order to develop urban development and planning base doff the importance of certain trees. During 20 minute intervals, we wanted and recorded the species of bird that land on or within a tree, what their actions are on the tree, i.e., are they using hollows or perching, and then to see where they head to once leaving the trees. We also took into account what they would use or interact with once entering the tree, for example what kind of branches were they perched on, how big were the hollows- were they feeding or nesting?

This study was so extremely fascinating to me because it’s something so niche, yet so vitally important to the entire ecosystem. When urban planning, it is extremely important to identify which trees, if removed, would result in a loss of a population, or even a species.   With mature trees as valuable as they are due to the amount of time it takes to develop hollows, they are not able to be replaces in a human lifetime. With the increase in encouragement to expand, the loss of the mature trees in increasing, threatening hollow-bearing species, and loss of a keystone providers to other species (Le Roux et. al, 2014). Within a single morning, here is a list of the species recorded among the sites we visited near Majura:

  • Eastern Rosella
  • Common (Indian) Mynah
  • Common (European) Starling
  • Noisy Miner
  • Crimson Rosella
  • Striated Pardalote
  • Australian Magpie
  • Galah
  • Noisy Friarbird

Locations of the trees recorded on October 5th.

What Did We Find?

Although it is often common sense that mature trees are extremely valuable and home to a variety of wildlife, these trees are still being torn down and replaced with younger, much less mature trees as offsets (Le Roux et. al, 2015). We found that mature trees in open paddocks tend to host the most birds and the largest variety in wildlife. Personally, I found how beneficial this study really is. It was hard for me to put into words how fascinated I was by both the study and the results we got! One of our last trees, locate just outside of the magpie war zone we previously encountered, rarely had any down time between the amount of birds that were constantly landing. Once you experience something like this firsthand, you then realize how truly important these structures are in means of biodiversity protection, and the threats that new suburbs pose.


Le Roux, D, Ikin, K, Lindenmayer, D, Manning, A and Gibbons, P, 2014. The Future of Large Trees in Urban Landscapes, PloS ONE 9(6): e99403.

Le Roux, D, Ikin, K, Lindenmayer, D, Manning, A and Gibbons, P, 2015. Single Large of Several Small? Applying Biogeographic Principles to Tree-Level Conservation and Biodiversity Offsets, Biological Conservation 191: 558-5566.


Word count: 812

Total time spent: 7 Hours

Jackie Pulak


About Biodiversity Conservation Blog

I am an Associate Professor at The Australian National University and convene a (very awesome) course called Biodiversity Conservation. Myself and students in the course contribute to this blog.
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1 Response to Experiencing Sustainability in the ACT

  1. Thanks for getting up early Jackie. Phil

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