Title: Tree Bands
“Why are those bands around the trees”? I asked my partner as we drove through Albert Park recently. I was promptly reminded by my partner that while she was an authoritative source on brewing beer, she wasn’t one on tree bands and the why and wherefores of their use. “To stop rats from climbing up”? Why I hadn't noticed before I don't know, following a quick web search I soon knew the answer. They were in place to stop possums climbing the trees to nest in, and or eat the foliage. I had unwittingly entered the urban possum control debate. My first impression was its quite a bit like the climate change debate, except right on your neighbourhood doorstep1.
Possums, so cuddly and cute. They must rate amongst the most photogenic of Australia's marsupial creatures, right up there with Koala bears and irascible looking Wombats. We all know what is meant when people go 'aww' at the sight of them. Everyone loves them, unless your local park has had trees stripped of leaves, or your fruit trees stripped bare of fruit, or you've been stripped of night time sleep, shattered by bounding Possums in your roof.
Since European settlement of Australia native flora and fauna habitats have been changing, often times disappearing completely and definitely contracting. The inevitable consequence is a smaller number of all those flora and fauna species. Or is it? Sometimes some species do seem to derive a benefit from human expansion and activity. Possums, at least those that don't mind urban areas may very well be one of those species, like cats and dogs, that has learned how to cohabit in the biosphere with us.
Banding trees with broad strips of plastic or metal has for many years been the method that many councils and home owners have applied to protect trees from these ravening creatures. Placing disks around power and other suspended lines across streets is meant to stop possums crossing from one side to the other.
It is the control of possums and mitigating their impact that causes disagreements and passionate discussion, for and against the creatures. You may be an ardent conservationist of trees, you may be a fervent conservationist of possums, or deeply cherish blissful undisturbed sleep. If you fit in any or all three categories searching for a path that satisfies such differing and passionately held opinions is truly difficult. And if your search leads you to think that science might have some answers that will bring good sense and informed actions , think again.
Possums in Australia are part of the [what ever the phylum, family, branch is] and they are related to the possums of North and South America though their evolutionary separation was many tens of millions of years ago. The possums of New Zealand are an introduced species (from Australia) and considered as much of a blight on that country as the introduced prickly pear and cane toad are in Australia.
In Australia there are several species most...