NSW Government Policy Clears the Way for Threatened Species Demise
Humane Society International (HSI) today expressed its disappointment at the NSW Government’s approval of the destruction of at least 509m2 of highly important Grey-headed Flying-fox habitat at the Ku-ring-gai Flying-fox Reserve. The species, which is listed as threatened and supposedly protected under both State and Federal environment law, has come under increased pressure since the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) released a regressive Flying-fox Camp Management Policy earlier this year, with a flurry of applications to disperse and destroy habitat at roosting sites submitted to and approved by OEH in recent months.
This most recent approval of a licence to harm a threatened species under section 95 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 adds insult to injury due to the habitat destruction occurring within a reserve subject to an in-perpetuity Voluntary Conservation Agreement (VCA). This VCA was one of the very first to be established, and was entered into for the sole purpose of protecting the Grey-headed Flying-fox and its habitat in 1991.
“We believe this is the first time a NSW Government has approved a management action directly contradictory to the specified purpose of a Conservation Agreement,” said HSI Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain. “This has set a dangerous precedent for the management of nearly 400 VCAs throughout the State, and also opens the door to repeated clearing applications within the Ku-ring-gai Flying-fox Reserve as the species roosts in different areas from year to year,” Mr Quartermain continued.
HSI has also become aware that approval for the habitat destruction was granted more than a week ago, but OEH’s failure to publicise this on the public register of section 91 applications, licences and certificates, the only resource available to monitor such actions, allowed no time for meaningful consultation or negotiation.
“The Office of Environment and Heritage’s new Flying-fox Camp Management Policy has paved the way for the noisy minority who simply don’t like living next to flying-foxes to pressure Council’s into harming this threatened and highly ecologically important species. We can of course sympathise with those neighbouring flying-fox camps, though the cumulative impacts of the habitat destruction and dispersals taking place are simply unsustainable. Funding home modifications such as reverse-cycle air conditioners and double-glazing to mitigate flying-fox impacts is a far better solution to look after both affected residents and the long-term future of species,” Mr Quartermain concluded.