Thousands of Grey-headed Flying Foxes still spend their days in the Royal Botanic Gardens. At last count there were about 6,000 in the camp, not the 22,000 or so reached at their peak late last year.
As most people in Sydney know, the Botanic Gardens Trust has applied to the State and Commonwealth Governments for approvals to relocate the flying foxes. Two weeks ago we got our approval from the State Government - it was decided that our planned relocation was unlikely to harm the flying foxes. There are conditions to the approval but we will be able to meet these in time to commence the relocation in May this year.
The Commonwealth Government has advised us that the same relocation does have the potential to harm the species so they will require further information. We are waiting for them to detail the process to follow and the information they'll need - hopefully they can use some of the information we are gathering for the State Government.
We have advised the Commonwealth Government of the urgency of our request and our need to get a decision before May if possible. The window of opportunity (when flying fox numbers are at their lowest, and to not interfer with breeding and nursing of young) is May to September. Already we have lost significant trees from our collection, and the heritage listed landscapes are severely scared. With 12 trees already dead and 60 more on our critical list, it's important for the future of the botanic garden that we commence the relocation this year.
Today I spoke with Jason Morrison on 2GB about the issue. He reflected the love that Sydney-siders have for the Royal Botanic Gardens and was encouraging immediate action. I explained that our proposal was using a proven technique (regular hourly noises during the day to disturb the camp and to eventually make our Gardens an uncomfortable place to roost) that would not harm the flying foxes, and it was important to get the approvals first. There is certainly some unrest out there and I know that many of our Friends of the Gardens are frustrated by the delays.
We have to do this right, but we have t do it as soon as possible.
(If you want to find out more about the relocation process or about flying foxes, see http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome_to_bgt/feature_stories/questions_and_answers.)