- WSL / Cait Miers

The crashing waves of Bells Beach aren't the only things making a splash this year at the World Surf League (WSL) Champtionship Tour stop! As part of the league's sustainability initiative, WSL One Ocean, WSL is partnering with Heartwood Habitat, a local Torquay organization with a sky-high mission: protecting and enhancing coastal ecosystems. Heartwood Habitat's unique expertise in wildlife research, habitat creation, and community engagement will be instrumental in maximizing the impact of WSL PURE's generous donation.

WSL events not only showcase the world's best surfers, but also their dedication to healthy oceans. WSL One Ocean embodies this spirit by implementing sustainable practices at competitions and partnering with local organizations on environmental initiatives. This year, their focus falls on the hidden world above the waves: the intricate ecosystems that thrive in the Australian coastal canopy.

WSLOO Bells 24 This year, WSL One Ocean partners with Heartwood Habitat to build nesting boxes for local and engangered wildlife. - WSL / Cait Miers

Founded in 2022 by expert tree climber Alex Jardine, Heartwood Habitat brings together a passionate team of arborists and ecologists. These specialists possess a unique skillset, combining their knowledge of trees with a deep understanding of wildlife needs. They are qualified in aerial rescue, canopy access, and rigging, allowing them to navigate the arboreal world with exceptional skill and safety. All arborists are industry trained and accredited, ensuring the highest standards in every project.

Many native Australian animals rely on tree hollows for their survival. These natural cavities provide shelter, breeding grounds, and protection from predators. However, due to factors like development and natural disaster, hollows are becoming increasingly scarce. This decline poses a significant threat to a wide range of species.

To address this challenge, Heartwood Habitat offers nest box installation. These artificial shelters, meticulously crafted from sustainable materials, mimic natural hollows and provide a crucial alternative for displaced wildlife. The WSL PURE donation will allow Heartwood Habitat to construct and install additional nest boxes throughout Torquay's Taylor Park and the surrounding Surf Coast.

WSLOO Bells 24 WSL surfer Tatiana Weston-Webb drilling the final piece on a nesting box with the Heartwood Habitat team. - WSL / Cait Miers WSLOO Bells 24 A closer look into the details of the nesting box. - WSL / Cait Miers WSLOO Bells 24 WSL commentator Kaipo Guerrero sanding down the nesting box before installation. - WSL / Cait Miers

The nest boxes will be designed to attract a variety of local bird species, each playing a vital role in the coastal ecosystem. Eastern Rosellas, with their vibrant red and blue plumage, are likely candidates. Crimson Rosellas, boasting a similar colour scheme with a distinctive crimson chest band, may also find these havens appealing. Rainbow Lorikeets, known for their dazzling display of green, red, blue, and yellow feathers, are another target species. Other potential inhabitants include Musk Lorikeets, Red-rumped Parrots, and Blue-winged Parrots. By providing nesting sites for these colourful birds, Heartwood Habitat fosters biodiversity and ensures the continuation of their melodious calls that grace the Australian coastline.

WSL PURE's contribution extends beyond the initial construction and installation of nest boxes. Heartwood Habitat is committed to ongoing monitoring to ensure the success of the program. This may involve citizen science initiatives, where local communities and school groups can participate in data collection and observation.

Combined with educational workshops led by Heartwood Habitat's experts, this program fosters a deeper understanding of the importance of hollow-dependent species and habitat conservation.

WSLOO Bells 24 Jack Homer, Environment Arborist at Heartwood Habitat, preparing for his climb to install the first nesting box. - WSL / Cait Miers WSLOO Bells 24 (Left to right) Christina Guglielmi, Operations Manager at Heartwood Habitat and WSL surfer Tatiana Weston-Webb admiring Jack's climb! - WSL / Cait Miers WSLOO Bells 24 Jack, pictured again, preparing for the nesting box installation. - WSL / Cait Miers

Australia's native forests take a significant amount of time to develop natural hollows. Some estimates suggest it can take up to 120 years for a suitable hollow to form. With over 300 native species relying on these cavities, the decline in their availability is a pressing concern.

Heartwood Habitat is a leader in a revolutionary approach: habitat enhancement through hollow creation. Their team of specialists utilizes specialized arborist equipment to create hollows directly within trees. This technique supplements the natural resource and provides much-needed nesting and breeding sites for various wildlife species. The WSL PURE donation will allow Heartwood Habitat to further develop and refine their hollow creation methods, ensuring their effectiveness and expanding their application throughout Australia.

By strategically allocating WSL PURE's funds across these initiatives, Heartwood Habitat aims to make a significant and lasting contribution to the health of coastal ecosystems. The creation of new nest boxes will provide homes for countless birds, while ongoing monitoring ensures their success.

Cultivating a Generation of Stewards

The impact of WSL PURE's contribution extends beyond the immediate benefits for wildlife. By fostering a deeper understanding of the importance of hollow-dependent species and habitat conservation, Heartwood Habitat's educational initiatives have the power to cultivate a generation of environmentally conscious stewards. Imagine a young student witnessing the heart-warming scene of parent birds feeding their chicks through a live camera feed. This firsthand experience can spark a lifelong passion for wildlife conservation.

Heartwood Habitat's workshops go beyond captivating visuals. Interactive sessions led by their knowledgeable team delve deeper into the fascinating world of arboreal ecology. Students learn about the diverse species that rely on hollows, the threats they face, and the importance of protecting these vital habitats. This comprehensive approach empowers participants to become advocates for the natural world, inspiring them to take action in their own communities.

Branching Out: Partnerships for Broader Impact

Heartwood Habitat recognizes the importance of collaboration in achieving their ambitious conservation goals. The WSL PURE donation will not only empower their own initiatives but also allow them to strengthen existing partnerships and forge new alliances with other organizations dedicated to environmental protection.

A prime example of this collaborative spirit is their work with The Friends of Taylor Park and The Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority. Through this partnership, Heartwood Habitat will ensure the nest boxes installed in Taylor Park are meticulously monitored and integrated into the broader park management plan. This collaboration ensures long-term sustainability and maximizes the impact of the WSL PURE donation.

WSLOO Bells 24 Community members from The Friends of Taylor Park, The Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority, and Heartwood Habitat coming together to support habitat restoration. - WSL / Cait Miers

An Investment in the Future: The Ripple Effect of Conservation

The partnership between WSL PURE and Heartwood Habitat is more than just a feel-good initiative. It represents a strategic investment in the future of Australia's coastal ecosystems. By providing homes for local birds, creating new hollows, and fostering environmental awareness, this collaboration sets in motion a positive ripple effect throughout the ecosystem.

The increased bird populations can lead to improved pollination, seed dispersal, and insect control, all vital components of a healthy ecosystem. The innovative hollow creation techniques can be replicated and adapted for other regions, benefiting a wider range of wildlife species. The educational programs can inspire future generations to become active participants in conservation efforts. The overall impact is a healthier, more resilient coastal environment for all.

A Call to Action: Joining the Wave of Change

The story of WSL PURE and Heartwood Habitat is a powerful testament to the positive change that can be achieved through collaboration and innovation. It serves as a call to action for all of us to become stewards of the natural world. Here are a few ways you can get involved: Support organizations like Heartwood Habitat: Donations of time, resources, or financial support can make a significant difference in their conservation efforts.

  • Become a citizen scientist: Participate in data collection initiatives or volunteer your time for monitoring programs.
  • Make informed choices: Support businesses committed to sustainable practices and advocate for policies that protect native habitats.
  • Educate yourself and others: Learn more about the importance of hollow-dependent species and share your knowledge with friends and family.

By taking these simple steps, we can all contribute to the wave of change that WSL PURE and Heartwood Habitat have set in motion. Together, we can ensure a brighter future for the diverse and vibrant wildlife that calls the Australian coast home.

To learn more and get involved, visit heartwoodhabitat.com and @heartwood_habitat.

As surfers, the ocean is our playground and our stadium. Getting involved in protecting and conserving the ocean is critical for us today and for future generations. Show us what you are doing by posting on social media with the hashtag #WSLOneOcean and tagging @wsl and @wsloneocean in your posts. You can learn more and get involved at WSLOneOcean.org.

WSL One Ocean is a global initiative supported by SHISEIDO and YETI with regional support from Hydralyte.

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