Urban Habitat Tree

Addison Road Community Organisation established an Urban Habitats program in 2013 to foster wildlife habitat in our urban environment and enhance the benefits of the green spaces we manage. The program is based around our Urban Habitat Tree which provides a safe haven and home to a variety of native bird species. 

Hollow-bearing trees are vital for the survival of many Australian native mammals, reptiles, insects and birds, but their availability is rapidly declining—so much so that their loss has been listed as a Key Threatening Process in NSW.

It takes 120-200 years for hollows to form, and many native animals and birds can’t live without them. 

With most of the original forest cover in NSW cleared since 1788 and growing rates of land-clearing, few trees are old enough to bear hollows, exacerbating already-high extinction rates.

Urban areas are often forgotten when we think about maintaining habitats, yet in the face of increasing urbanisation and rapid development, habitat availability in our cities is critical for wildlife movement and survival.

Wildlife monitoring

After creating our Urban Habitat Tree in 2014, we conducted an extensive wildlife monitoring program to evaluate its effectiveness. We set up motion-activated cameras and microbat detectors in our tree, have an ecologist conducting spot-checks in the hollows, and invited community members to conduct citizen-science observations. Data from the Addi Road Urban Habitat Tree contributes to the ‘Hollows as Home’ study hosted by the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. 

Our monitoring program revealed more than 10 native species of birds using the tree and recoded the first-known use of a man-made hollow for breeding by a pair of rainbow lorikeets that nested in Hollow No. 5 in 2017. Microbat monitoring detected the presence around the tree of several native species, including the Eastern bentwing bat, listed as vulnerable in NSW.

Creating urban habitat trees is a responsible and rewarding alternative to removing a dangerous or otherwise tree. When we started our Urban Habitats program, there was only one other urban habitat tree in NSW. Now there are more than 100 across the state. You’re welcome to get in touch to find out more, or to visit any day of the week to observe birds enjoying the home we made for them here at Addi Road.

School excursions and workshops

Addi Road hosts school excursions and workshops to learn about our urban habitat tree. To book an excursion or workshop, fill out our booking form.

Nocturnal Microbat Monitoring sessions 

In 2015-16 local residents as ‘citizen scientists’ used echo-location devices to pick up microbat calls. Goulds and Eastern Bent-wing were detected. This contributed valuable data on these under-researched species.

The Hollow Tree

By Mark Mordue, Robyn Chiles and Inner West school children

“In a busy noisy part of the city, between the aeroplanes and a car park, stands a big dead Sydney blue gum. But take a moment to observe, or even peek inside, and you’ll find that this hollow tree is full of life!”

This beautiful children’s book tells the story of Addi Road’s urban habitat tree from the point-of-view of the tree itself. Written by poet and music-writer Mark Mordue, it was illustrated by students from five local public schools. Artist and illustrator Robyn Chiles worked with the children to discover and draw the many forms of life that exist in and around the tree. TAFE educator and permaculture practitioner Trish Kenny provided an informational section about the principles of urban habitat creation and a potted history of our tree’s life.

The Hollow Tree has featured on ABC Kids Listen and won a Habitat and Wildlife Conservation Award in the 2020 Sustainable Cities awards.

You can buy it online from us, or in store from most Inner West bookshops.

The creation and publication of The Hollow Tree was an Addison Road Community Organisation project, supported with an Inner West Council environment grant.

Buy ‘The Hollow Tree’

Online: $29.95 includes Australia-wide shipping 



Via your Paypal account or ‘Checkout as Guest’ to simply pay by credit card.

In person

Available from the Addi Road office (Hut 1, next to the Food Pantry) or from:

  • Berkelouw Books, Leichhardt
  • Better Read than Dead, Newtown
  • Gleebooks, Dulwich Hill or Glebe

100% of proceeds go to Addi Road’s environmental programs

Thank you to Inner West Council, Taverner’s Hill Infant’s School, Wilkins Public School, Marrickville West Primary School, Ferncourt Public School, and Dulwich Hill Public School.