26 April, 2018
INVITATION TO SUPPORT BAIRNSDALE’S FLYING FOX COLONY
Dear friends, groups & organizations,
As you may be aware, the Grey-headed Flying-fox (GHFF) colony along the Mitchell River @ Riverine Street, Bairnsdale has received attention over the last couple of years due to East Gippsland Shire Council’s (EGSC) plans to remove their habitat trees, a 0.5 ha stand of mixed trees including Poplars.
Stage 1 (out of 3) has already occurred, with stage 2 removal imminent. A broad ranging group of community members, including residents of Riverine Street, and Bairnsdale Urban Landcare, recently decided to form a ‘Friends of Bats’ group (name yet to be decided) to advocate for, protect and support Bairnsdale’s colony of Nationally Vulnerable GHFF.
Council’s rapid 3 stage tree removal program, to be completed by 2022, will not allow sufficient time for appropriate habitat to be regenerated. GHFFs will then re-locate to a less appropriate area causing stress to all involved, including the GHFF. Relocation and subsequent cruel dispersal methods are likely to have devastating impacts on GHFF numbers and breeding success.
This permanent maternal colony is used by GHFF for breeding and as a nursery for rearing young dependent pups. GHFF perform a crucial role as long distance pollinators of forests along the eastern seaboard of Australia, as far north as north QLD. Without them, the forested ecosystems could collapse, as tree populations will become genetically isolated and unhealthy. They are a KEYSTONE species in rapid decline, whose numbers can ill-afford the loss of young caused by any habitat destruction.
A meeting is being arranged with EGSC (the land manager), DELWP (who are responsible for the animals), Parks Victoria and stakeholders.
The general AIMS to be presented read as follows:
No further disturbance of the GHFF colony.
No destruction of the GHFF’s homes i.e. Poplar Alba. Adopt a LONG TERM management approach to gradually regenerate with appropriate native species as the Poplars naturally die.
Formation of Friends Group to advocate for, and work with the bats and the community – Conservation, Education, Community.
Scope and engage with agencies and stakeholders to have the colony area managed as a conservation reserve.
Note: an example of this already exists @ the Ku-ring-gai Flying Fox Reserve in Sydney, where a GHFF colony on council land is now successfully managed as a conservation reserve, additionally benefiting the community as a tourism asset. They have fantastic signage – still absent in Bairnsdale. See link:
See also this link to the Friends of Bats and Bushcare Inc at Yarra Bend in Melbourne:
Lawrence Pope, President of Friends of Bats and Bushcare Inc. at Yarra Bend recently gave a talk, inspiring us to move forward as a community living with bats, by starting something similar here.
There are other examples around Australia where bats are welcomed by communities, and seen as the precious resource they rightly are. We believe it can happen here with the aid of good public education and sound management.
We seek your support in writing, in person at the meeting, or both. This will become a broad network of community groups and individuals who play an ongoing role in advocating that our GHFF remain healthy in East Gippsland in perpetuity.
If you would like to support the group, but can’t attend a local meeting please reply with name, email and postcode and we will keep you informed. Please share this information with your networks.