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Flying-foxes have begun roosting in extra habitat planted adjacent to Maclean High School’s rainforest reserve in 2010, however, the report to council notes “there are no new compensatory habitat areas available in the Maclean area”. Image: Geoff Helisma

CVC moves to broaden bat management strategy

Geoff Helisma | Councillors have unanimously endorsed an update of the Maclean Flying-fox Management Strategy and supported the development of a valley-wide strategy. At the July 24 council meeting, councillors adopted staff’s recommendation, which was developed during a “community liaison and consultation”, held in May of this year. According to the updated strategy, prepared by GeoLINK Environmental Management and Design, separate meetings were held with two residents, Maclean Highs School’s principal and the CEO of the Nungera Co-operative Society. Phone liaisons were conducted with TAFE NSW and the president of the high school’s P & C; presentations were made to the council’s Maclean Flying-fox Dispersal Committee and the Maclean Flying-fox Working Group; and, a community drop-in information session was held at the Maclean council chambers. Essential Energy, which has a substation in the area, did not respond to two invitations to participate in the process. The updated strategy will not be publically exhibited because CVC “has already consulted with the community”, the report to council stated. Councillor’s budgeted $25,000, subject to a matching state government grant, “to employ a part-time dedicated flying-fox officer to facilitate the actions in the management strategy”. The officer’s key objectives are the development of the valley-wide strategy and investigating “alternate roost and foraging habitat away from the Maclean community”. Ultimately, the council is aiming to gain Office of Environment and Heritage approval to “carry out approved camp management actions on all recognised camps in the Clarence Valley Council area for a period of five (5) years, without having to apply for a licence for routine actions”. Councillors also resolved to: “assist Maclean High School to seek external funding for high priority actions listed in the strategy, such as maintain existing buffers, build covered walkways and install air conditioning for the gymnasium where school exams (HSC) are held; [and], make representation to the federal and state governments for funding a voluntary buy back of properties directly affected by flying-foxes at market value”. Proposed actions contained within the strategy are subject to gaining external funding, apart from the strategy recommending that CVC reviews its “biodiversity budgets and funding allocation options”.