A group of researchers from University of British Columbia (UBC) emphasizes the importance of protecting old trees to save the homes of more than 1,000 different bird and mammal species. Most animals are unable to carve out their own tree holes and therefore rely on holes already formed. The study found that most animals nest in tree holes formed by damage and decay, a process that can take several centuries.
In forests, tree holes are created either quickly by woodpeckers or more slowly as trees age and begin to decay. Birds like owls, songbirds and parrots, and mammals like flying squirrels and opossums, make homes in the holes of trees because they offer safe environments for sleeping, reproduction and raising young. Insects, snakes and amphibians will also make use of tree cavities.
Kathy Martin, a professor in the Faculty of Forestry at UBC and her research team found that on most continents - South America, Europe, Asia and Australia - more than 75 % of the holes used by birds and mammals were created by damage and decay.
"When wildlife depends on decay-formed cavities, they are relying on large living trees. Most trees have to be more than 100 years old before decay cavities begin to form and often several centuries old before large cavities or many cavities develop in one tree."
"Most forest policies help protect younger trees but promote the harvest of older, larger, living trees - the very trees needed by cavity-nesting animals," says Martin.
“The value of these large living trees needs to be recognized and we need to ensure that a supply of these trees is retained especially in tropical forest systems where decay-formed tree holes last for many years and support a lot of wildlife”.
Read the full story at “Science Daily”
Access the research article here