A BUSY Strathdale road appears to have helped banish possums and other native tree dwellers from bushland bordering on a wildlife "hot spot".
Wildlife camera traps have revealed the task ahead of Traditional Owners managing forests around Wildflower Drive.
Dja Dja Wurrung members have been leading a partnership with Parks Victoria to improve environmental protection and improve visitor experiences since February.
The groups have found no possums, no sugar gliders and no phascogales - a once common species of tree dwelling marsupials also known as tuans.
There are a lot of foxes there and the trees are too young to have formed hollows big enough to nest in, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation project manager Harley Douglas said.
"It's interesting though, because One Tree Hill is only really just across the road and it is a hot spot for these kinds of animals," he said.
It is not like both areas do not share the same site history, Mr Douglas said. Both were cleared of trees to feed the 19th century gold rush before being replanted.
"I don't know why they are there (at One Tree Hill) and not in Wildflower Drive," Mr Douglas said.
He wondered whether it was time for a "rope bridge" tree dwellers could use to clamber across the road, though that idea was just one and would need to be signed off by road authorities.
"Creating a bit of connectivity between the two sites could be really important," Mr Douglas said.
Female phascogales might hunt for prey over 40 hectares of land, he added. Males can need as much as 100 hectares.
"We will be looking at work with primary schools to install nesting boxes in Wildflower Drive, too," Mr Douglas said.
Nest boxes can act as artificial hollows until trees grow large enough to form their own.
Survey confirms existence of two rare and elusive reptiles
The area is not completely devoid of native animals, Mr Douglas said.
The Wildflower Drive native animal survey proved two vulnerable and little known species reside under ground.
One is the pink-tailed legless lizard.
That species has been found near One Tree Hill before but the record for the Wildflower Drive area were hazy, Mr Douglas said.
The rare and little understood lizards' habitat has been decimated by human development that rips up or covers over its underground burrows.
Illegal mountain biking and inappropriate fire regimes also damages their habitat.
The other species is the woodland blind snake.
That non-venomous nocturnal reptile spends most of its life underground or under deep leaf litter.
The snake is found across central and northern Victoria but its Bendigo habitats have become fragmented because of human development.
Most extensive survey of Eltham copper butterfly ever
Wildflower Drive is one of two tracts of bushland the Traditional Owners are nurturing with Parks Victoria.
The other is Castlemaine's Kalimna Park, where ecologists recently conducted a survey of threatened Eltham copper butterflies.
It was believed to be the most extensive ever on the species, Mr Douglas said.
"They did habitat mapping and they searched for flying adults with great success," he said.
"There's heaps of rare orchids there too - Wildflower Drive has some too, but Kalimna Park was a major spot for them."
What was more, the Dja Dja Wurrung have found new signs of how the site was used before white people arrived.
"It's a site that has been completely demolished and overturned ... because of the gold rush," Mr Douglas said.
"But we are still finding sites of cultural heritage, including 24 rock wells in the park."
Jaara members only knew of a small number of rock wells before last summer, Mr Douglas said.
He said other Castlemaine residents have begun keeping an eye out for other features that could be important.
"They might say 'this looks like a rock well, you should go check it out' and nine times out of 10 they have been right," Mr Douglas said.
"So they have a really good eye for culture."
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