Life Support habitat structure
’Life Support’ is an innovative artwork that serves as functional habitat for a wide variety of species including invertebrates, bats, birds and reptiles. Construction of the sculpture was completed in 2019 as part of extensive box-gum grassy woodland restoration at Barrer Hill in the Molonglo River Reserve.
Life Support is the last of 11 vertical habitat structures to be completed at Barrer Hill. These structures mimic the functions of mature trees for wildlife.
A long history of landscape degradation due to farming and commercial pine practices has left no mature trees standing across the 50 hectare restoration site. Though the restoration efforts will in time come to revegetate the landscape, the structure will provide interim resources for wildlife like hollows, while newly planted trees mature in the centuries to come.
Made from a salvaged 400 year old remnant yellow box tree, Life Support is unique as it doubles as an eye-catching artwork, which visitors to the reserve can experience up close.
The project was a collaboration between the Parks and Conservation Service, The ANU’s School of Arts and Design and Fenner School of Environment and Society, as well as with United States artist Professor Joyce Hwang who designed the sculpture. The sculpture seeks to provide much needed ‘real estate’ for wildlife, in the form of nesting hollows, perches and peeling bark, but also push the boundary from a structural engineering and architectural perspective. The project demonstrates what can be achieved when ecological problems are tackled in a cross-disciplinary manner.
Life Support is also installed with two remote operating cameras, allowing researchers and the community to monitor wildlife using the structure.
A new web tool to allow the public to browse imagery or videos captured from Life Support and other habitat structures in the reserve is currently being developed by ANU collaborators, which will be launched in late-2019. Updates on this project will be available at this site in coming months.