477 nest boxes to be installed along Western Highway

VicRoads' project team leader Bart Popielczyk with a nest box installed along the Western Highway.

VicRoads' project team leader Bart Popielczyk with a nest box installed along the Western Highway.

VicRoads will install almost 500 nest boxes on the Western Highway between Beaufort and Ararat.

Project team leader Bart Popielczyk said environmental restoration works will see 477 nest boxes installed along the stretch in areas specifically chosen by an environmental expert based on a range of criteria, including tree size, bark type and location. 

A majority of the boxes are 40 centimetres high, but seven of the boxes are three metres off the ground to accommodate for powerful owls, which had been identified as possibly living in the area. 

“The boxes are painted with two coats of exterior grade UV acrylic, which is paint commonly used on weatherboard houses, in a colour that blends with the environment,” Mr Popielczyk said.

“And although the boxes are designed for birds, our expert has found that a range of animals often take up residence, including possums and lizards.

The Western Highway project team commissioned the boxes in response to environmental groups’ concerns about animal habitat after the removal of trees and other vegetation to duplicate the highway. 

“We commissioned Associate Professor Rodney van der Ree, from the University of Melbourne, to produce a report recommending locations for wildlife crossings and we have engaged another expert to build nest boxes,” Mr Popielczyk said. 

“The nest boxes and wildlife crossings will be installed progressively along about 40 kilometres between Beaufort and Ararat. 

“Some will be retro fitted on the completed duplicated highway, and some will be built into the design for the new section from Buangor to Ararat.

Boxes are already installed in areas west of Beaufort and will be progressively installed on the Buangor Bypass, and on the new 12.5km section between Buangor and Ararat before trees are removed. 

“We appreciate that this does not replace the trees we have removed but we are working to make reparations where possible and will continue to work with environmental groups to reduce the environmental impact of the road,” Mr Popielczyk said.