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February 19, 2011 in Urban wildlife | Tags: anti-bat sentiment, Bat Advocacy Inc, bat dispersal and Australian Federal Court, Bat dispersal Sydney, Botanic Gardens flying-foxes, Department of Environment Climate Change & Water, flying fox camps in Sydney, grey-headed flying foxes, Grey-headed Flying-fox, Grey-headed Flying-fox eviction, habitat loss, Hendra virus and Flying foxes, Minister for Environment Protection Peter Garrett, natural tourism, netting fruit trees, Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, starving flying foxes, Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens, tree destruction, vulnerable to extinction species | Leave a comment
On 17 February 2011 the Federal Court ruled against the Bat Advocacy Inc’s challenge to the decision of the Minister for Environment Protection Peter Garrett to allow the forced removal of the colony of Grey-Headed Flying-Foxes (GHFF) from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. This was not an appeal to review the merits of the decision, but a hearing on points of law. The court said that its function was to examine whether “the correct processes were followed by the Minister in making his decision.”
Bat Advocacy Inc raised 4 challenges, which were answered by the court as follows:
1. Q: Did the Minister fail to take into account a relevant consideration when exercising his power of approval. That consideration was the impact on the GHFF resulting from their removal from their critical habitat in the Gardens. A: The Minister concluded that the proposed action should be attempted if the GHFF could be acceptably & safely dispersed in order to prevent ongoing damage being occasioned to the internationally significant trees within the Gardens. Thus, the Minister did not fail to consider the loss of the GHFF habitat in the Gardens and the draft Recovery Plan.
2. Q: Did the Minister fail to take into account a relevant consideration, namely the social matters & the associated community conflicts resulting from the dispersal of the GHFF to areas outside the Gardens. A: The portion of the Reasons under the heading ‘Social & Economic Matters’ demonstrates that the Minister has given due regard to information on social matters identified in the PER & in public submissions.
3. Q: Did the Minister fail to take into account all adverse impacts, present & throughout the duration of the approval, that the approval would have on matters protected by Part 3 of the EPBC Act. The approval is stated to remain effective until 2039. The applicant does not identify the impacts which have allegedly been disregarded by the Minister. Rather, the submission merely suggests that there may be cumulative impacts which will adversely affect the GHFF. A: Based upon the precise nature of the monitoring, which will continue throughout the life of the approval, & upon which the life of the approval is contingent, it could not be said that the Minister failed to consider how the approval would operate to the date of expiry.
4. Q: Did the Minister fail to take into consideration other information in the Minister’s possession concerning similar GHFF dispersals which had been raised in public submissions and referred to in the Independent Expert Report of Dr Richards. A: The Minister was aware of the potential for the proposed action to be unsuccessful. In these circumstances, the Court cannot conclude that the Minister failed to consider previous unsuccessful attempts to disperse colonies of GHFF in Australia.
That still doesn’t make the decision the right one & the court hasn’t answered this question.
In May 2011, the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust will start dispersal techniques of around 22,000 ‘threatened’ grey-headed flying foxes. The Sydney Morning Herald wrote – “But the Gardens said that to date the bats had destroyed 27 mature trees & more than 20 palms since they took up residence there 20 years ago. Another 300 trees were at risk, Dr Entwisle said. Several sites have been identified as possible homes for the bats, including existing flying fox camps at Ku-ring-gai, Cabramatta & Parramatta. Botany Bay National Park & Lane Cove National Park were also named, although the Gardens has said it could not be certain whether the bats would settle in any specific location.” http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/huge-sydney-bat-colony-to-be-evicted-20110217-1axtm.html
According to bat experts, dispersal techniques will make the bats tired & stressed, making them prone to serious injury. They will have to join other colonies to fight & compete with food that was, at least during 2010, very scarce. Bats were found all along the east coast of Australia & as far as Adelaide looking for food with some eating citrus fruit in country orchards, although citrus is not their usual food.
The east coast situation of starving bats has resulted in an increase in anti-bat sentiment in the community with many complaining about bats in their garden keeping them or their children awake at night. This blog’s stats show with alarming regularity people searching the question, “How to get rid of bats?” I know what the answer will be. Some people will chop down their trees to take away the food & the tree/s that the bats are using. No tree, no bat. I predict there will be a great increase tree removal & despite the rules & regulations of Councils, many won’t bother to get permission. Our Council wouldn’t know the true numbers of tree removal across Marrickville LGA & I’d bet this is the same with other Councils.
Sydney Councils have been saying throughout 2010 that they did not want the 22,000 Botanic Gardens flying-foxes to come to their area so it’s not as simple as removing the bats from the Gardens for them to happily fly away to another home. Their removal will have a ripple effect & I doubt it will be supportive of the bats.
The grey-headed flying fox is listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ with the major threat being loss of habitat. Other factors are: being killed by people & declining numbers. Flying foxes have a very low breeding rate so don’t breed & boom. They eat native fruit & nectar & do a terrific & vital job in pollination & seed distribution so we actually need them. When starving they will eat citrus fruit. Because of loss of habitat, flying-foxes come to feed on flowering trees in suburban back gardens. They eat & leave, rarely deciding to roost & usually only return for 2-3 weeks before moving on to a different food source. There is no evidence that people can get the Hendra virus from bats. Rather than hurt a flying fox if you want to stop it from visiting your garden, contact the Department of Environment Climate Change & Water for assistance – http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/contact/
If you net fruit trees it is important to pull the netting tight so a bat can walk over it, but not get entangled & injured. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/NettingOfCommercialFruitTrees.htm
I appreciate the situation that the Trust is faced with & understand why they sought the eviction. However, there are many others like me who are sad & disappointed about this decision, who believe the bats should be allowed to continue to live in the Botanic Gardens & that their eviction will create many more problems for bats & other birds. It is also an enormous loss of opportunity for ‘natural tourism,’ as many people would travel to see such a glorious sight right in the heart of our city. Let’s hope that everything works out quickly so everyone can be happy, most of all the bats.
I last wrote about the flying foxes at the Royal Botanic Gardens here –https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/sydney’s-royal-botanic-gardens-trust-wants-‘threatened-species’-bats-banished/
August 17, 2010 in Tree news | Tags: abc.net, Asutralian Federal Government Endangered Species Act, Bat Advocacy, bat dispersal and Australian Federal Court, Budgewoi, Canton Beach, caravan parks in NSW, concrete, Cumberland Plains woodland, endangered flying foxes, endangered shale transition forest woodland, Environment Minister Peter Garrett, Express Advocate Wyong, Flying Foxes, food crisis for bats, grey-headed flying foxes, Hills Shire Council, Hills-Shire Times, Humane Society International, Kellyville, legal implications of grey-headed flying foxes, National Parks and Wildlife, Norah Head, NSW State Government BioBanking Agreement, Orange City Council, Parramatta Advertiser, Parramatta Council, Parramatta Park, Parramatta River, Professor David Gloldney, Royal Botanic Gardens Trust Sydney, starving bats, Sydney Central, Toowoon Bay, tree news, Withers Rd Kellyville, Wyong Council | Leave a comment
Conservation group Bat Advocacy with funding from Humane Society International is taking Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens Trust to the Federal Court to contest Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s decision to allow the bats to be dispersed using noise. I had not realized that permission was given for the noise dispersion to occur for the next 20 years.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Trust recently announced that the relocation, expected to start in July, has been postponed until next year, because of the inability to tag enough flying foxes. Dr Tim Entwisle, the executive director of the Botanic Gardens Trust, said many of the bats were too underweight to tag. Bats are also starving all over Australia & leaving QLD & flying as far as Adelaide & Tasmania in the search for food. http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/group-to-challenge-bat-relocation-in-court/
Up to 7,000 grey-headed flying foxes, a threatened species in NSW, have moved in to Parramatta Park along the banks of Parramatta River. They have come to this location due to severe food shortages in their usual habitat. I hope Parramatta Council don’t decide to use dispersion or chop the trees down. http://parramatta-advertiser.whereilive.com.au/news/story/bats-put-residents-in-a-flap-over-fruit/
Adjunct Professor at Charles Sturt & Sydney universities, Professor David Gloldney has been employed by Orange City Council to look at ways of preventing flying foxes returning to central western NSW. He says so far he has been looking at the legal implications of the recent arrival of the grey-headed flying foxes. “To look at the various acts under the National Parks and Wildlife and DECCW [the Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water] & the Federal Government’s Endangered Species Act.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/29/2967437.htm
Yet more critically endangered Cumberland Plain & endangered shale transition forest woodland is at risk of development in Kellyville. Hills Shire Council wants to clear 10 hectares of its own woodland at Withers Rd Kellyville despite massive community opposition. They have applied for a State Government BioBanking Agreement that would allow it the Council to clear this land in return for protecting land somewhere else. The community met a fortnight ago as part of Council’s community consultation. http://hills-shire-times.whereilive.com.au/news/story/fight-to-save-woodland-at-kellyville/
Wyong Council has directed that all gardens around caravans & mobile homes be removed in all caravan parks in Budgewoi, Canton Beach, Norah Head & Toowoon Bay. Another win for the fans of concrete. http://express-advocate-wyong.whereilive.com.au/news/story/anger-over-council-order-to-turn-beautified-caravan-sites-ugly/