Nature conservation

Native animals

Monitoring, evaluating and reporting on management actions at flying-fox camps

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The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 is scheduled to commence from 25 August 2017.

Existing wildlife licence classes, conditions and fees will remain in place after the Act begins.

Proposed changes to wildlife licensing under the new Act will be exhibited for public comment in the second half of 2017. These changes are expected to be taken up during 2018.

Learn more about the wildlife licensing reforms.

This fact sheet provides guidance to land managers on monitoring, evaluation and reporting requirements and recommendations associated with flying-fox camp management actions under the Flying-fox Camp Management Policy 2015.

What is monitoring, evaluation and reporting (MER)?

Monitoring is the collection and analysis of data, in this case to inform flying-fox conservation and management. This ensures accountability and provides the basis for evaluation and learning.

Evaluation is the analysis of monitoring data to assess the impact, appropriateness, effectiveness and legacy of flying-fox management actions.

Reporting involves communication of the findings associated with the evaluation process to inform adaptive management.

In this fact sheet monitoring, evaluation and reporting will be referred to as 'MER'.

Why is monitoring important?

Monitoring and evaluation of flying-fox camp management provide a measure of the effectiveness of management actions, enable assessment of current and future management needs, and can inform management actions at other camps. Monitoring is useful for assessing impacts on animal welfare and nearby communities. Monitoring is also used to ensure compliance with licence conditions where applicable.

Together these results will help inform local land manager and Office of Environment and Heritage responses to flying-fox conservation and management, including public concerns about the perceived impacts of flying-foxes on public amenity, agriculture and public health.

Who is responsible for MER?

In the context of camp management actions, land managers are responsible for MER. Office of Environment and Heritage recommends land managers appoint a fauna ecologist or biologist with flying-fox knowledge and experience to plan for and implement MER requirements. Office of Environment and Heritage will provide advice on statutory requirements including monitoring.

What monitoring is recommended?

The monitoring of any species must be specifically designed according to the species' ecology and behaviour and the intended outcomes of the monitoring effort.

Monitoring programs must also be designed to match the resources available. The variable size of flying-fox camps and flying-foxes' high mobility means flying-fox monitoring is not an easy task.

Office of Environment and Heritage recommends that MER should be appropriate to the level of risk associated with management actions. The protected status of all flying-foxes as native fauna and the threatened status of the Grey-headed flying-fox require monitoring for any actions with the potential to impact a flying-fox camp. Typically, monitoring requirements increase with higher-risk management actions such as Level 2 and Level 3 actions, and Office of Environment and Heritage will likely include MER requirements in licensing conditions for such actions.

Actions for Levels 1, 2 and 3

For Level 1 management actions that comply with the Flying-fox Camp Management Policy 2015, MER is normally not required by Office of Environment and Heritage. However, land managers should consider defining the desired outcomes of any management actions and monitoring accordingly as a means of understanding whether those actions were successful, and to inform future management.

It is also worth considering keeping detailed records of the management activities and their outcomes for contribution to a state-wide flying-fox land managers' network. Details of activities including timing, costs, staff resources and results will help other land managers to better plan and manage flying-fox camps elsewhere.

Consider mapping the structure and composition of vegetation in and around the camp, as well as any changes over time. This can help to inform camp management decisions.

For Level 2 management actions that comply with the Flying-fox Camp Management Policy 2015, Office of Environment and Heritage may require some MER as conditions of a licence. Recommended MER activities for Level 2 management actions include:

  • Mapping the flying-fox camp including key features and how they are used by flying-foxes. To understand the impacts of management actions, this should be done before, during and after the actions are implemented. Include mapping of the structure and composition of the vegetation in and around the camp.
  • Measuring area and composition of roost vegetation removed through clearing, and area of additional habitat identified or revegetated.
  • Conducting detailed flying-fox counts including species present, numbers, condition of animals, and presence of pregnant females or females with young. Again, this should be done before, during and after the actions are implemented. Surveys should be conducted one month, six months and 12 months after the management actions are complete to understand the long-term impact of the management actions.
  • Recording details of flying-fox behaviour during management activities, including signs of visible distress, injury or death.
  • Surveying affected neighbours and the local community before and after management actions to monitor their response to the outcomes of the management actions as an integral part of the community engagement strategy.

Again, consider keeping detailed records of management activities and their outcomes for contribution to a national flying-fox network.

A datasheet (DOC 861KB) is available for monitoring Level 2 management actions. Information should be forwarded to Office of Environment and Heritage, and used by the land manager to inform future management decisions.

For Level 3 management actions Office of Environment and Heritage will set specific MER requirements on a case-by-case basis. These may include:

  • Identifying existing camps within a thirty-kilometre radius of the dispersal site and contact relevant land managers to discuss the possible implications of a dispersal in the region.
    • Conducting population surveys at those sites in the week before and daily during the dispersal, and one week, one month, six months and 12 months after the dispersal.
  • Identifying potential flying-fox roost sites within a six-kilometre radius of the dispersal site and assessing suitability of potential roost habitat.
    • Conducting population surveys at those sites in the week before and daily during the dispersal, and at least once in the 12 months following the dispersal.
  • Mapping the flying-fox camp where dispersal is planned, including key features and how they are used by flying-foxes in the week before dispersal, during dispersal activities, and one month after the dispersal. This may include mapping of the structure and composition of the vegetation in and around the camp.
  • Conducting detailed flying-fox counts at the dispersal site including species present, numbers, condition of animals, and presence of pregnant females or females with young in the week before dispersal and daily during dispersal activities, and numbers of injured, orphaned and dead flying-foxes located during the seven days following the principal dispersal event. Attention should be given to whether the breeding status of the animals has changed as a trigger for stopping dispersal activities. Surveys should also be conducted one month, six months and 12 months after the management actions are complete to understand the long-term impact of the management actions.
  • Measuring area and composition of roost vegetation removed through clearing, and any area of additional habitat identified or revegetated.
  • Recording details of flying-fox behaviour during management activities, including signs of visible distress, injury or death. Any deaths should be assessed by a vet to determine the cause of death. Liaison with wildlife carers to monitor any increase in the number of flying-foxes being taken into care or showing signs of stress, including aborted young.
  • Surveying affected neighbours and the local community before and after management actions to monitor their response to the outcomes of the management actions as an integral part of the community engagement strategy. Surveys may also be required at other sites that receive an influx of flying-foxes from the dispersal. Recording any responses or complaints to the dispersal activities from residents or other individuals/ groups.
  • Recording the details of the disturbance methods, timing, spatial extent, daily duration, triggers and contingencies for each site where activities are conducted.
  • Assessing any outcomes of the dispersal activities, including community response.

Licences are likely to require quarterly monitoring and evaluation reports be submitted to Office of Environment and Heritage for at least the first year following the dispersal activity.

Again, consider keeping detailed records of management activities and their outcomes for contribution to a national flying-fox network.

A datasheet (DOC 1MB) is available for monitoring Level 3 management actions. Information should be forwarded to Office of Environment and Heritage, and used by the land manager to inform future management decisions.

For all management actions that aim to reduce conflict, their effectiveness in doing so needs to be assessed. Office of Environment and Heritage recommends monitoring the response of affected neighbours and the local community to the outcomes of the management actions as an integral part of the community engagement strategy.

Where can I send the results of monitoring?

Data should be sent to the relevant Office of Environment and Heritage regional office that is responsible for issuing any certificates or licences for the work. Alternatively, data can be sent to: flying.fox@environment.nsw.gov.au

Other Flying-fox Monitoring Programs

Page last updated: 09 August 2017