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Clarence Valley News

Flying fox frequency, pt 2



Flying fox frequency

Flying fox frequency, pt 2

Story by Lara Leahy

In the second part of the Flying Fox Frequency, we look at the flying fox population in the Kyogle Council, Clarence Valley Council and Ballina locations. Kyogle Council have also provided excerpts from their Management Plan giving further information on why Flying Foxes receive so much focus.

Kyogle Council
Judy Faulks, the Senior Environmental Services Officer has replied with a great deal of information on the issues faced by all areas with Flying Fox populations. Kyogle Council has sourced funding from the NSW Dept of Planning and Environment (DPIE) and researched its own management plan.
Kyogle’s Plan
“In 2021 Council received funding from DPIE to complete the Kyogle Flying-fox Camp Management Plan (currently in draft form). This Plan has been prepared to guide future management of the Kyogle flying-fox camp along Fawcetts Creek on the northern side of Kyogle township. The Plan aims to reduce conflicts between humans and the flying-fox camp.
“The remaining flying-fox camps throughout Kyogle LGA (one of which is a Nationally significant flying-fox camp) are in more rural/remote areas of the LGA so conflict between humans and the flying-fox camps is minimal.
“In consultation with the community, a range of management actions have been identified in the draft Kyogle Flying-fox Camp Management Plan which includes both general and location specific actions. The key management actions aim to maintain or enhance separation between people and the flying-fox camp. Applying for and securing external funding will be important to enable implementation of the Plan.
“In late 2021 Council also received further funding from DPIE to implement a high priority action under the draft Plan – i.e. undertake habitat enhancement and creation at the northern end of the Kyogle Recreation Reserve to encourage flying-foxes to roost in this area away from sensitive receivers. This project will complement previous vegetation regeneration works along Fawcetts Creek; provide roosting habitat away from residential areas thereby reducing flying-fox conflicts; and reduce pressure on vegetation at the existing flying-fox camp.
“Kyogle will continue monitoring flying-fox camps as part of the National Flying-fox Monitoring Program – as this provides valuable information on the location, species, timing and numbers of flying-foxes at a given camp over time.
Conflict vs Harmony
“There can be conflict between humans and flying-foxes. Key issues identified as part of community consultation for the draft Kyogle Flying-fox Camp Management Plan included flying-fox noise, odour and excrement impacts; and disease concerns. There are local residents and users of the area who reported enjoying the flying-fox camp or whose primary concerns related to flying-fox conservation issues. Reported positive feedback was from people who:
· acknowledge the need to conserve flying-foxes as an important native species and find a balance between wildlife and human needs
· enjoyed watching flying-foxes at the camp
· appreciated the natural values of the camp and vegetation along Fawcetts Creek
· feel the camp does not negatively impact on their lifestyle
· understand the low risk of flying-foxes to human health.”

An excerpt from draft Kyogle Flying-fox Camp Management Plan: Flying-fox ecology and behaviour
Ecological role
Flying-foxes make a substantial contribution to ecosystem health through their ability to move seeds and pollen over long distances (Southerton et al. 2004). This directly assists gene movement in native plants, improving the reproduction, regeneration and viability of forest ecosystems (DEE 2019a). Some plants, particularly Corymbia spp., have adaptations suggesting they rely more heavily on nocturnal visitors such as bats for pollination than daytime pollinators (Southerton et al. 2004).
Grey-headed flying-foxes may travel 100 kilometres in a single night with a foraging radius of up to 50 kilometres from their camp (McConkey et al. 2012) and have been recorded travelling over 500 kilometres in two days between camps (Roberts et al. 2012). In comparison bees, another important pollinator, move much shorter foraging distances of generally less than one kilometre (Zurbuchen et al. 2010).
Long-distance seed dispersal and pollination make flying-foxes critical to the long-term persistence of many plant communities (Westcott et al. 2008; McConkey et al. 2012), including eucalypt forests, rainforests, woodlands and wetlands (Roberts et al. 2006). Seeds that are able to germinate away from their parent plant have a greater chance of growing into a mature plant (DES 2018). Long-distance dispersal also allows genetic material to be spread between forest patches that would normally be geographically isolated (Parry-Jones & Augee 1992; Eby 1991; Roberts 2006). This genetic diversity allows species to adapt to environmental change and respond to disease pathogens. Transfer of genetic material between forest patches is particularly important in the context of contemporary fragmented landscapes.
Flying-foxes are considered ‘keystone’ species given their contribution to the health, longevity and diversity among and between vegetation communities. These ecological services ultimately protect the long-term health and biodiversity of Australia’s bushland and wetlands. In turn, native forests act as carbon sinks (Roxburgh et al. 2006), provide habitat for other animals and plants, stabilise river systems and catchments, add value to production of hardwood timber, honey and fruit (e.g. bananas and mangoes; Fujita 1991), and provide recreational and tourism opportunities worth millions of dollars each year (DES 2018).
Flying-foxes in urban areas
Flying-foxes appear to be roosting and foraging in urban areas more frequently. There are many possible drivers for this, as summarised by Tait et al. (2014):
· loss of native habitat and urban expansion
· opportunities presented by year-round food availability from native and exotic species found in expanding urban areas
· disturbance events such as drought, fires, cyclones
· human disturbance at non-urban roosts or culling at orchards
· urban effects on local climate
· refuge from predation
· movement advantages, e.g. ease of manoeuvring in flight due to the open nature of the habitat or ease of navigation due to landmarks and lighting.
Under threat
Flying-foxes roosting and foraging in urban areas more frequently can give the impression that their populations are increasing; however, the grey-headed flying-fox is in decline across its range and in 2001 was listed as vulnerable by the NSW Government through the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (now BC Act).
At the time of listing, the species was considered eligible for listing as vulnerable, as counts of flying-foxes over the previous decade suggested the national population had declined by up to 30%. It was also estimated the population would continue to decrease by at least 20% in the next three generations given the continuation of the current rate of habitat loss, culling and other threats.
The main threat to grey-headed flying-foxes in New South Wales is clearing or modification of native vegetation. This removes appropriate roosting and breeding sites and limits the availability of natural food resources, particularly winter–spring feeding habitat in north-eastern NSW. The urbanisation of the coastal plains of south-eastern Queensland and northern NSW has seen the removal of annually-reliable winter feeding sites, which is continuing.
There is a wide range of ongoing threats to the survival of the grey-headed flying-fox, including:
· habitat loss and degradation
· conflict with humans (including culling at orchards)
· infrastructure-related mortality (e.g. entanglement in barbed wire fencing and fruit netting, power line electrocution, etc.)
· exposure to extreme natural events such as cyclones, drought and heatwaves.
Flying-foxes have limited capacity to respond to these threats and recover from large population losses due to their slow sexual maturation, low reproductive output, long gestation and extended maternal dependence (McIlwee & Martin 2002).
Camp characteristics
All flying-foxes are nocturnal, typically roosting during the day in communal camps. These camps may range in number from a few to hundreds of thousands, with individual animals frequently moving between camps within their range. Typically, the abundance of resources within a 20 to 50-kilometre radius of a camp site will be a key determinant of the size of a camp (SEQ Catchments 2012). Many flying-fox camps are temporary and seasonal, tightly tied to the flowering of their preferred food trees; however, understanding the availability of feeding resources is difficult because flowering and fruiting are not reliable every year, and can vary between localities (SEQ Catchments 2012). These are important aspects of camp preference and movement between camps and have implications for long-term management strategies.
Little is known about flying-fox camp preferences; however, research indicates that apart from being in close proximity to food sources, flying-foxes choose to roost in vegetation with at least some of the following general characteristics (SEQ Catchments 2012; Eco Logical Australia 2018):
· closed canopy >5 metres high
· dense vegetation with complex structure (upper, mid- and understorey layers)
· within 500 metres of permanent water source
· within 50 kilometres of the coastline or at an elevation <65 metres above sea level
· level topography (<5° incline)
· greater than one hectare to accommodate and sustain large numbers of flying-foxes.
Optimal vegetation available for flying-foxes must allow movement between preferred areas of the camp. Specifically, it is recommended that the size of a patch be approximately three times the area occupied by flying-foxes at any one time (SEQ Catchments 2012).
Clarence Valley Council
Clarence Valley Council (CVC) said “Traditionally any flying fox camps in or adjacent to urban areas present challenges for Council and the community.” They highlighted examples in their area, including Maclean, Iluka, Grafton, Ulmarra, South Grafton as well as some rural locations such as Blaxlands Creek.
CVC have applied for the LGNSW grant. “The current strategy is to implement the Maclean Flying Fox Management Strategy and the draft CVC wide Flying Fox Management Strategy. Improving flying fox habitat opportunities away from sensitive receivers and mitigating existing impacts between camps and sensitive receivers while still accommodating co-habitation of both with less conflict.”
“We are currently in the process of issuing fresh communications around newly established, seasonal flying fox camps in Grafton and Blaxlands Creek and we are open to having further conversations to promote challenges around flying fox management as they apply to the Clarence Valley LGA.”
Ballina Shire Council
James Brideson, the Natural Resource Officer for Ballina Shire Council was able to contribute from their area:
“We understand some residents have concerns about local flying foxes and may be worried about disease. Within Ballina Shire, flying fox camps are currently located away from residential areas with buffers in place. However, their camps do change with the seasons. It’s also important to remember that within our community flying foxes are a very important part of the ecosystem process and are important for the survival of many plant species in our area.”

Next week: Richmond Valley Council, Tenterfield Shire and Lismore City Council – Edition 86 of The Northern Rivers Times

Tenterfield-The Bowlo

Clarence Valley News

Community group’s council audit delayed





Community group’s council audit delayed


By Tim Howard

A community group supposedly the target of a Clarence Valley Council audit in February 2024 over the cost of its interactions with council has pointed out the audit has not been completed. The General Manager, Laura Black commented, “I anticipate it will take a couple of months.”

The secretary of Yamba Community Action Network (YambaCAN), Lynne Cairns, said this week’s council business paper included a report, Council Meeting Checklist – update on actions taken.

The report revealed staff had not completed the action, the result of a council resolution at the February 2024 council meeting.

“On page 175 of the business paper there is a note next to the item,” Ms Cairns said.

“It reads: ‘Staff responsible for collating information have been diverted to prepare and respond to legal action taken against council by an executive member of YambaCan’.”

Ms Cairns said this was incorrect as no-one on the YambaCAN executive had taken legal action against the council.

She was aware of some matters concerning the council a member of YambaCAN had taken to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

“These matters were not matters concerning YambaCAN and the member who brought them was not acting for YambaCAN,” Ms Cairns said.

“I’m concerned this is some disinformation that somehow YambaCAN is responsible for delaying council’s investigation of its actions.

“YambaCAN is requesting an apology from council for the incorrect information in the business paper.”

The resolution read: that the general manager advises, by way of a report the:

1. allocation of resources required to respond to GIPAs submitted by YambaCan since January 2022.

2. allocation of resources required to respond to RFI (Request for Information) submitted by YambaCan since January 2022.

3. any cost implications of delays to delivering the Yamba Community Precinct project since January 2022.

The matter was passed 5-4, but debate was fiery.

Cr Karen Toms brought it as a notice of motion to alert the public to the costs the group’s GIPA requests and requests for information were incurring.

But other councillors said these costs were part of council operating openly and transparently.

Cr Greg Clancy was concerned the motion focused on just one group when council records showed it was responsible for a fraction of the requests.

“As seen in the listing of GIPA applications on council’s website, there are 22 GIPA applications and only six of these refer to YambaCAN,” he told the February meeting.

He also revealed YambaCAN had lodged a request for information, however were informed that there were 290 requests for information previously lodged by others that were waiting to be processed.

Ms Cairns was concerned that with the council going into caretaker mode on August 16, ahead of the September local government elections, council could not effectively decide on the matter.

There will be report on the outcome of this matter and other matters at council in next week’s edition of The Northern Rivers Times.


For more Yamba news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

Clarence Valley Country Muster




Clarence Valley Country Muster

Clarence Valley Country Muster


If you are missing the country sounds from Tamworth, fret not, as the Clarence Valley Country Muster is just around the corner.

Expanded from two days to four, the event will start on July 25th and go to July 28th at 11 Coulters Lane, Ulmarra, near Grafton.

You will enjoy artists such as Jade Hurley, John, Lloyd, Jack Watson, Lindsay Waddington and Jamie Davis.

Special guest artists, Paul Ricketts, Winner of the Thornton Young Award and Nay McAplin, Winner of the Walk Ups in July, will also make an appearance.

Your comperes for the main stage will be Terry Gordon OAM and Ken ‘Chainsaw’ Lindsay.

And bring those nerves with you, as from 10.30am on Thursday, aspiring artists can take their turn on the microphone, with John Lloyd hosting the walk-ups.

All acts will be vying for a gig at next July’s event.

Now is the time to grab a group of friends or family members and book your spot by heading to their website or calling Wendy Gordon on 0432 741947.

Gates open for early arrival at the muster site on Tuesday, July 23.

For $120 per person, you can enjoy a full week of camping, camaraderie and entertainment at one of the best value-for-money festivals in the Clarence Valley.

Check out is Tuesday, July 30.

If you have a fire pit, bring it along as wood will be supplied.

There will be songs around the campfire, best dressed Christmas and party games and a big finale on the Sunday.


For more local Clarence Valley news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News





NSW BUDGET Cost of Living



The NSW Labor Government’s 18 June Budget does nothing to alleviate the growing cost of living problems in the Richmond and Clarence Valleys, although there is some good news for the region, according to Clarence Nationals MP Richie Williamson.

“Everywhere I go, every local I talk to, they all say the same thing: we’re struggling with rising costs – why isn’t the Government helping?” Mr Williamson said.

Mr Williamson said that he was all for working cooperatively with the Government, but there was mounting evidence Sydney Labor is “out of town, out of touch and the budget is out of control”.

“Calls to reinstate the $250 fuel card for regional seniors, students and apprentices have fallen on deaf ears, but Sydney seniors now enjoy $2-a-day Gold Passes on Sydney’s massive and massively subsidised public transport system as well as toll relief for Sydneysiders,” Mr Williamson said.

“Calls to save the Ulmarra ferry from Labor’s axe met a similar fate, at the same time as Labor is buying a fleet of new ferries for Sydney and took over another Sydney ferry service that has lower patronage than Ulmarra to Southgate.”

Mr Williamson did acknowledge the Government’s ongoing funding of the previous Liberals and Nationals Government’s Grafton Base Hospital rebuild, the allocation of $6.2m in the fight against White Spot disease in local rivers as well as a “welcome” $90m boost for the Resilient Homes Program, following the 2022 floods.

“These are crumbs compared to what Labor is lavishing on its Sydney heartland,” Mr Williamson cautioned.

“The Richmond and Clarence Valleys provide the timber for Sydney homes, the beef for Sydney dinners as well as the sugar and milk for Sydney cappuccinos.

“That needs to be acknowledged and we deserve our fair share,” Mr Williamson concluded.”


For more Richmond Valley news, click here.

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