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Byron Shire
July 5, 2022

Flying fox habitat project is soaring in The Tweed

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A project to restore six hectares of flying-fox habitat to help protect the iconic species in the Tweed is seeing great success, the local Council says.

The Sustaining the Tweed’s Flying-fox Forests project has now restored four hectares of suitable habitat with the final two hectares due to be completed by September.

Tweed Council is working alongside private property owners to restore 6ha of habitat to help protect the threatened grey-headed flying-fox. Image: Tweed Council

The project began in October last year to restore high-conservation value foraging habitat for the grey-headed flying-fox on six private properties at Tomewin, Urliup and Numinbah.

Michael Corke, a biodiversity project officer from Tweed Council, said it was critical to ensure the survival of the grey-headed flying-fox which has been declared a threatened species.

‘We are fortunate that the Tweed is home to the grey-headed flying fox but it is crucial we ensure this vulnerable species is not lost to the area,’ Mr Corke said.

‘It is responsible for the pollination of numerous native trees, with its preferred food including the nectar and pollen of eucalypts, banksias and melaleucas as well as the fruits of more than 50 native rainforest trees and vines.

‘It’s Australia’s largest flying-fox, and plays a critical role in ensuring the health and survival of iconic ecosystems such as tall sclerophyll forests and lowland subtropical rainforests.

‘In a single night they can travel up to 100 km looking for food and spread up to 60,000 seeds. While we sleep, they create new forests by dispersing seeds from the fruit they eat.’

Restoration work as part of the project has consisted mainly of primary control of highly invasive woody and vine weeds.

‘In addition to the grey-headed flying-fox, restoration of the valuable habitat at our project sites supports a number of other animal species and threatened plants and they all benefit from this restoration,’ Mr Corke said.

‘Flying-foxes are threatened by a combination of factors, including a lack of suitable roosting and foraging habitat, climate-related extreme weather, climate-related food shortages, bushfire, misunderstanding, and poor urban planning of the past.

‘Full rehabilitation of sites will help ensure the survival of this iconic species and our unique forests. Landholders at each property are learning about best-practice ecological restoration techniques and a little about the ecology of the grey-headed flying fox.’

The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of the Regional Bushfire Recovery for Multiregional Species and Strategic Projects Program grant opportunity.

Council will continue to help landholders maintain these project sites next financial year through its Biodiversity Grants Program.

Find out more about the Tweed’s flying-foxes at tweed.nsw.gov.au/environment/native-animals or about Council’s Biodiversity Grants Program at tweed.nsw.gov.au/environmental-grants-incentives.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. I’m all for this sort of thing if it’s on private land, but it seems they are just using flying tree rats as an excuse to get tax payer money to deal with their weed problem.

    • You have no idea what you are talking about Christian. These ‘flying tree rats’ as you call them, play an important role in dispersing seeds and pollinating flowering plants and are crucial to keeping native forests healthy. Here’s some facts… Because flying-foxes are highly mobile, seeds can be moved locally and over great distances. When seeds are able to germinate away from their parent plant, they have a greater chance of surviving and growing into a mature plant. Seed dispersal also expands the gene pool within forests. Mature trees then share their genes with neighbouring trees of the same species and this transfer strengthens forests against environmental changes.
      High mobility also makes flying-foxes very effective as forest pollinators. Pollen sticks to their furry bodies and as they crawl from flower to flower, and fly from tree to tree, they pollinate the flowers and aid in the production of honey. This reinforces the gene pool and health of native forests.
      In turn, native forests provide valuable timber, act as carbon sinks, and stabilise river systems and water catchments, and provide recreational and tourism opportunities worth millions of dollars each year.
      So have some respect to these earth friendly beings. I have little doubt they are kinder to the earth than you.

  2. The problem with “preserving” the Greys is that the other very similar sub-species of these bats are simply out-breeding them, hence their ‘endangered’ status.
    To have a reserve created specifically to assist GHFFs is not helping this continuum – popular though it may be in some quarters.

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