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Cooks River at dusk - the black marks in the sky are the bats leaving their home in Wolli Creek - I am told it is a spectacular sight to see them leave from the vantage point of just outside the park

Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens Trust have been concerned about a large colony of bats who have made their home in the Gardens for years.  The bats are grey-headed flying foxes, which are listed as a threatened species in Australia.  The Trust say the bats are destroying trees in ‘Palm Grove’ & it’s true, they are denuding the trees.

Federal MP Peter Garrett is about to decide whether to allow the Trust to get rid of the bats (they say humanely) by causing a noise, which the bats are unable to tolerate, hoping they will move & find another home.  There are many problems with this.

  • They intend to do this in the breeding season when many of the mothers are pregnant.  The dispersal techniques of noise, harassment & sleep deprivation result in many miscarriages.
  • The bats become disorientated & exhausted (as we all would) during this intervention.  As a result there are many injuries.
  • It’s cruel & at the risk of sounding like a zealot, all about man’s domination over animals.  The gardens are 75 acres in size.  Yes, they are destroying a certain amount of trees on the south side of the gardens, but there are a lot of other trees & the grove can be replaced.
  • The Trust says the bats will find another home, but on the small chance they do, this itself will likely result in problems.  They may try to join other colonies, which will make other areas overburdened with bats.
  • They may stay in the gardens moving to other trees they have so far left alone.
  • They are disliked in residential areas for good reasons.  If they relocate to these areas, it is likely residents will campaign to get rid of them or take the matter into their own hands.  It’s moving a ‘problem’ to another area & another community.

I was at the NSW Art Gallery at dusk last week. It is a truly beautiful & special sight to watch the bats quietly fly over the Domain as they go off to search for food during the night.  It is also a very good thing for tourism.  Many countries do not have such nature in the CBD.  The tourists & I stood for a long time watching them & we all loved the sight.  The Trust & the City of Sydney should be promoting the bats as a tourism highlight.

I trust WIRES &, when they say there will be a problem with the dispersal intervention, I believe it.  There are a lot of other organisations who joined with WIRES opposing the bat dispersion. If there wasn’t a significant & valid reason, I do not think these organisations would take on the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust.

I found this birds nest in Dulwich Hill last week - they used all sorts of material to make it - they even have 3 little doonas for 3 little eggs

Personally I think we humans are constantly taking away habitat from wildlife.  We control ‘our’ environment at the cost of other living beings & many times we do this as our ‘given right.’

The bats are usually nomadic, seeking warm places.  Experts believe the Heat Island Effect caused by our love & prolific use of cement & paved surfaces has improved conditions for the bats in Sydney so they have stayed.  We have also had a long & protracted drought so why would the bats move on as they usually do when they know there is limited food & water outside the city?  They stay where there is food & water & once the drought is well & truly over, some of them may return to their nomadic lifestyle.  We just need to be patient.

I think the bats should be allowed to stay.  Although there are negatives, there are just as many positives, not the least these bats being a threatened species.  It is not as simple as the Trust makes out.  Trees benefit humans in many ways, but they are the homes for birds & animals.  Sometimes we have to give over areas & tree assets to them even if only out of fairness & compassion.

You can read a media release from the Humane Society, WIRES, Bat Advocacy & WWF written yesterday –  Eviction_of_Flying_Foxes

If you want to join the voices supporting the bats’ right to remain in the Royal Botanic Gardens, you can write to Peter Garrett MP via his online contact page – http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/memfeedback.asp?id=HV4 or via his e-mail – mailto:Peter.Garrett.MP@aph.gov.au

You can read about them on the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust web-site – http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome_to_bgt/royal_botanic_gardens/garden_features/wildlife/flying-foxes Today’s news about the bats on ABC News – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/24/2854578.htm?section=justin

Trees are featuring in the news a lot at the moment, which is good to see.  The following is what I found most interesting.

1.  In Camden LGA vandals have been ripping out & chopping down street trees after dark. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/outrage-growing-over-tree-vandalism-in-camden/

2.  Similar vandalism in Northbridge with community fruit trees that were part of Willoughby Council’s Sustainability Street program were stolen last month. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-sour-at-theft/

3.  In Western Australia the government is planning to log a Dardanup forest containing 500 year old Jarrah trees, which they can’t guarantee will be spared. The Preston Environment Group are fighting to save this forest.  These trees will make the princely sum of between $160,000 & $240,000.  Is nothing sacred anymore? http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/6894699/plan-to-log-500-year-old-trees/

4.  Residents in Dee Why are lobbying Warringah Council who are set to vote on a DA that will remove a healthy 45 year old Angophora just to fit 3 more units into a development.  A resident asked, “Why is it that developers have so much power over Warringah Council, yet local residents who have lived in the area for over 15 years & wildlife that use the tree as a habitat have been left helpless?” Sounds familiar? http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/old-tree-to-make-room-for-development-in-dy/

5.  The traditional owners of the Murray-Riverina Red Gum forest called for the forest to be managed by the traditional owners. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/01/2833148.htm

Later, federal minister Peter Garrett supported Premier Kristina Kenneally by agreeing to allow some logging to occur for the next 5 years despite prolonged activism to save these very special & unique forests.   It’s a hard decision to understand or support. http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/local/6881475/red-gum-park-decision-miserable/

6.  Residents are fighting Sunshine Coast Regional Council who have removed 2 Hills Figs & want to remove another 20 trees in Caloundra, South East QLD. A residents said, “Without the trees, Bulcock St is going to be another hot, characterless urban strip….” They will certainly bake.

Interesting, as my experience of this area of QLD is that there were large trees everywhere, including along shopping strips.  There were also massive garden beds & a green outlook that the locals were very proud of.  The area looked totally unlike Sydney. Perhaps the fact that much of the planting & maintenance was done by people serving Community Service Orders helped get such a green outlook.  Maybe, but there is also a culture which is pro-nature in QLD. The comments are overwhelming in support of retaining the trees. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/residents-angry-over-plans-to-remove-bulcock-st-trees/story-e6freoof-1225821748442 and today – http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2010/03/06/800-join-fight-to-save-trees/

7.  A November 2009 article from The Canberra Times because the trees in the ACT are mostly mature & the Council want to remove & replace them all.  Pertinent to Marrickville Council’s recent proposal to remove 59% of the public trees across the LGA.  A great many of the street & park trees in Canberra are Eucalypt’s & the city & suburbs are full of native birds because of this.   This article questions chopping a tree down if a branch falls & the issue of litigation.  Again, the comments are very interesting. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/greens-call-for-trees-probe/1673875.aspx

8.  In overseas news, the United Nation’s Billion Tree Campaign has reached 10 billion trees.  The BTC was launched in 2006.  170 countries participate & the latest to join were China late 2009 & India last February.  India has planted 6.1 billion trees since 2006 & 2.6 billion of these trees have been added to the UN’s program.

The UN says worldwide, 14 billion trees need to be planted annually to combat global warming.  This initiative is seriously tackling the serious problem of global deforestation.   Australia is a participant with the Boy Scouts planting trees.   I was unable to find out any other information about Australia’s input other than this reference.  http://www.prokerala.com/news/articles/a117813.html

So many of our street trees across Marrickville LGA try to survive in such dreadful conditions when it could have easily been fixed

9.  Not only is India making the news for their massive & commendable tree planting achievements (they don’t argue about the reality of climate change because they are living it), they have also an amazing High Court.  Why?  Because Delhi’s High Court ordered all concrete around street trees to be finished being removed within 3 months starting last week. 9,395 trees will have the concrete removed from around their trunk.  I wish the Delhi High Court had jurisdiction here. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Remove-concrete-near-trees-in-3-months–HC/586569/

10.  New York City’s Million Trees program has planted over 300,000 trees since it began in 2007 focusing on all the empty street tree sites as well as areas of land which are bare. They call it “revolutionizing urban street tree programs.”  Over 1,000 volunteers showed up to plant 20,000 trees on one day. I love this program.  There are Million Tree programs in other cities across America & they are all successful.  Not only do they result in a significant increase in the green canopy, programs like these educate people about the benefits of trees & by offering regular days where the community can be actively involved, create pride & ownership in the community. http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/02/24/2010-02-24_big_town_going_green_trees_bring_green_benefits_to_the_city.html#ixzz0h3k2oVDW

11.  In Wellesley, Massachusetts USA more than 90 trees that were almost 100 years old & were 60-70 foot tall were chopped down by accident. How does this happen?  Were the lumberjacks talking & just numbed out for a moment? http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/02/18/scores_of_trees_felled_in_error_on_wellesley_park_land/

12.  In a generous green act, Chris Clark from Middle Tennessee USA is donating 100,000 trees in memory of his father who died 6 years ago.  This is a fantastic gift to the community & further confirms my belief that people like to plant trees in memory of a loved one.  http://www.wkrn.com/global/story.asp?s=12087906

13.  2,500 shade street trees are to be planted in Worchester USA to replace the same amount of street trees which were recently lost to the Asian Long-Horned Beetle.  Where trees will be affected by overhead powerlines, they are planting ornamental trees & larger shade trees everywhere else.  The comments after the article are quite interesting. http://www.telegram.com/article/20100302/NEWS/3020415/1116

14.   In Lichfield Connecticut USA, it is illegal to tie a yellow ribbon around an old Oak tree or any tree for that matter even if it is to honor troops in Iraq & Afghanistan.  I anticipate there will be peaceful civil disobedience about this.  http://www.wfsb.com/news/22703733/detail.html

young Oak street tree

15.  Lastly, a Welsh Oak tree died of the cold aged 1,200 years. (not a typo)  It had a girth of 10.36 metres.  It was called The Great Oak at the Gates of the Dead. From the article, According to legend, in 1165, King Henry II of England, preparing to meet Owain Gwynedd in the Battle of Crogen, commanded his men to clear Ceiriog Woods, but ordered the Great Oak to be spared. I bet there are many people who are very upset about the loss of this tree.  It reached an astounding age & if it weren’t for the extreme weather this last winter, it may have lived for much longer.  http://greenanswers.com/news/127110/winter-overcomes-1200-year-old-oak

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