Flying foxes and Casino residents to benefit from new roost habitat away from homes

Richmond Valley Council will plant more than 1000 flying fox habitat trees including several semi-established figs on the southern side of the Richmond River at Casino as part of its long-term plan to entice Casino’s flying fox population to safely roost in areas away from residents’ homes.

Council was this month awarded a $15,000 grant from Local Government NSW’s 2019 Flying-fox Grant Program to undertake the extensive plantings. The grant program is funded by the NSW Government and administered by LGNSW.

The project will see a stretch of Casino’s riverbank bordering Queen Elizabeth Park and east of the Casino footbridge further developed for flying fox habitat.

Previous plantings in the area have already borne fruit, with some flying foxes observed last summer roosting in habitat originally planted in 2008.

Last year Council’s Open Spaces team planted another 500 native trees, including three semi-mature figs in the area.

This area of new plantings will now double in size thanks to the $15,000 grant, with Council also budgeting for ongoing management of the area over the next three years including weeding, feeding and watering.

The plantings are a core part of Council’s Flying-fox Camp Management Policy which was developed by consulting ecologists and introduced in 2015 following approval by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage with a five-year licence.

The two-pronged approach involves the planting of new roost habitat on the southern side of the river combined with the removal of problem vegetation on the northern side, to create a buffer between the current flying fox camp and nearby residences, businesses, and the Casino Public School.

The aim of the policy is to reduce the conflict between people and flying-fox colonies by supporting long-term solutions that improve and restore flying-fox habitat.

An added environmental benefit of the plantings is to stabilise the riverbank and riparian zone and encourage other wildlife to forage in the area.

Casino’s flying-fox camp is made up of grey-headed and black fruit bats, and at the start of each year they are joined by the nomadic little red. The grey-headed flying fox is listed as a threatened species and the Casino camp is listed as a nationally important flying fox camp.

Richmond Valley Council General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said the $15,000 grant was a welcome support for Council’s ongoing work to manage the flying fox camp and an endorsement for its Flying-fox Camp Management Policy.

“This is another milestone for our long-term plan to encourage the flying fox camp to relocate to the opposite side of the river and ensure residents and businesses are not adversely affected by colonies on their doorstep,” Mr Macdonald said.

“This will support the growth of habitat that our flying foxes rely on for their survival and minimise human-flying fox interaction.

“Residents can feel assured that Council is working consistently on this project and has the support of the NSW Government.”

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