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This picture was taken in October 2018 when the Independent reported that flying-foxes had returned in great numbers to where the conflict began, with extensive parts of the rainforest reserve’s vegetation destroyed. Image: Geoff Helisma

Maclean Flying-fox colony to get sprinklers

Geoff Helisma |

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) will use the $42,000 it applied for through the Local Government NSW Flying-Fox Grant Program 2019 “to employ a flying-fox officer, revegetate habitat in the Maclean rainforest and trial canopy-mounted sprinklers to create buffers without vegetation removal”.

Councillors allocated $25,000 towards employment of a flying-fox management officer at the July 2018 CVC meeting.

The report to yesterday’s CVC meeting (after the paper went to press) noted that employing “a flying-fox officer to undertake the requirements of the grant” would be funded from the “Biodiversity Offset Reserve, which has a balance as at 30 June 2019 of $124,164”.

The report to council breaks down where the money has come from to underwrite the initiative:

“1. Revegetation of the Maclean Rainforest ($15,000 grant and $15,000 in-kind from Department of Planning Industry & Environment, Crown Lands Division).

“2. Sprinklers installed as a trial to increase buffer distance between sensitive receivers (Maclean High School and TAFE) and the flying-fox camp ($2,000 grant).

“3. Employment of a Flying-fox Officer to develop a Clarence Valley wide flying-fox strategy, including a communication strategy and investigation into alternative roost habitats ($25,000 grant and $25,000 Council).”

On asset management, the report states: “Council only manages a very small part of the area occupied by the camp and it is important that all the land managers are involved in its management.”

On the issue of dispersal, the Maclean Flying Fox Strategy (updated in August 2018) states that 17 known flying-fox dispersals (nationwide) between 1990 and 2013 were analysed and “it was found in all cases that dispersed animals did not abandon the local area”.

“In 16 of the 17 cases, dispersals did not reduce the number of flying-foxes in the local area,” the strategy states in the ‘Consideration of Dispersal’ section.

“Dispersed animals did not move far.

“In all cases, it was not possible to predict where replacement camps would form.”