Today sees the release of a landmark report highlighting the impacts of the Queensland Roost Management Laws of Flying-foxes across Queensland. 

Half of Flying-fox species in Queensland are listed as threatened species, and the current management laws are allowing for potentially harmful dispersals and disruptions to roosts with no environmental assessments at all.

Environmental Defenders Office Managing Lawyer for North Queensland Kirstiana Ward said: 

“Without reform, we will continue to see local governments in Queensland spending millions on in-effective management options. We recommend the Queensland Government design and implement a modern framework for roost management informed by First Nations Lore and the latest scientific research to ensure Flying-foxes are sustainably managed and protected for the conservation of our natural environment.”

In the same moment as this landmark report was released, the Federal government released a proposal to axe 184 recovery plans from the federal legislature which would mean there is no requirement to recover the populations of threatened species, effectively walking away from their legal responsibilities to prevent extinction and biodiversity loss. Included in this is the Spectacled Flying Fox Recovery Plan, an Endangered Species that is a keystone pollinator and seed disperser for the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

First Nations People, Conservation Groups, Animal Rights Groups and land managers have gathered across Queensland to call for change.

“We are calling for the Queensland Government to fulfil their 2015 election commitment by implementing a new framework for roost management and have it operational by December 2022. Additionally we are calling for the federal government to keep all Recovery Plans and properly fund the recovery of threatened species to reverse the current extinction trend. “ – Lucy Graham, Director of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre.

The report by the Environmental Defenders Office and Cairns and Far North Environment Centre provide key recommendations to the State Government to establish a modern framework. With case studies from First Nations, scientists, conservationists and animal carers, the report demonstrates the impact of the laws on the now thought to be Critically Endangered Spectacled Flying-fox. Yidinji Traditional Owners are also concerned about the impacts to their cultural values and lore;

“At this rate, their populations are struggling so much that it wouldn’t be sustainable….Lore is only taking what you need and not what you want. There is a right time to take and a time to give.” – Jiritju Fourmile, Yidinji Nation.

Flying-foxes play an essential role in ensuring biodiversity and regeneration of our forests by pollinating plants and dispersing their seeds. Places like the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and Gondwana Rainforests rely on Flying-foxes for these services. Groups across the State are working for the recovery of Flying-foxes and are calling for the state and federal governments to ensure that they are also acting for the recovery and conservation of these essential species. 

“Our governments are failing our Flying-foxes. They have abandoned the endangered Spectacled Flying-fox, a species vital to the health of the World Heritage Wet Tropics Area, the second most irreplaceable place in the world.  The SFF has declined by 75- 80% in the last 15 years, with nearly one third of the entire Australian population perishing in one heatwave in 2018. They are just one heat event away from extinction. The government must act now. The SFF cannot wait any longer. ” President of Bats and Trees Society of Cairns (BatSoc).