The House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy has released the report of its inquiry into the management of nationally protected flying-foxes in the eastern states of Australia.
The report said flying-foxes were vital in maintaining some of Australia’s most significant ecosystems, dispersing pollen and seed for a wide range of native plants.
In 2016 flying foxes concentrated in unprecedented numbers in the Batemans Bay Water Garden and surrounding suburbs, causing numerous blackouts to the power supply over many weeks.
“For a range of possible reasons, including the loss of natural habitat and the expansion of human settlements, flying-fox camps are becoming more common in urban areas across the east coast,” the report said.
“These camps and the behaviours of the flying-foxes can have notable economic, social and health impacts on residents, businesses and farmers, and have put pressure on local councils to take action.”
Committee chair, Andrew Broad MP, said that it was vital “the appropriate environmental protections for nationally protected flying-foxes were based on sound research and data”.
“These protections should translate into conservation and recovery efforts that have meaningful effect, while limiting the impacts on affected communities at the same time.
“Nationally protected flying-foxes are environmentally important, and we need to ensure they continue to thrive into the future.
“At the same time, we’ve been listening to communities along the eastern seaboard, and it’s clear that the impacts of flying-foxes on affected residents can be significant.
“The committee has heard that impacts can range from the inability of some residents to use outside areas, due to smell, noise and waste impacts, to the considerable disruption caused by large camps in the middle of business districts or adjoining nature parks.
“Residents and councils need additional support to help communities understand the protections, legal requirements, and the management options open to them”, he said.
Mr Broad said the committee sought to complement efforts to protect, conserve and recover affected flying-fox populations, while supporting councils who are often tasked with the complex job of balancing regulatory requirements and the pressing needs of communities. Visit www.aph.gov.au/flyingfoxes
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