Nature conservation

Native animals

Routine camp management (Level 1) actions

This fact sheet should be read in conjunction with the Flying-fox Camp Management Policy 2015.

The Flying-fox Camp Management Policy outlines a hierarchy of camp management actions based on the principle of using the lowest form of intervention required.

This approach involves:

  • routine camp management actions (Level 1)
  • creation of buffers (Level 2)
  • camp disturbance or dispersal (Level 3).

This fact sheet provides more detail on Level 1 management actions.

Note that Level 1 management actions should be developed as part of a camp management plan (see the camp management plan template (PDF 355KB)).

What are Level 1 management actions?

Level 1 management actions involve routine camp management, carried out with the intention of improving the resilience or condition of the camp.

Routine camp management actions should be clearly identified as Level 1 camp management actions in the camp management plan. These include:

  • Removal of tree limbs or whole trees that pose a genuine health and safety risk, as determined by a qualified arborist. The removal of a whole tree that does not pose a genuine health and safety risk as determined by a qualified arborist, or multiple trees that serve as roost trees regardless of safety issues, constitute Level 2 management actions, and may require a licence.
  • Weed removal, including removal of noxious weeds under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 or species listed as undesirable by a council. Care must be taken to minimise weed removal if the action is likely to significantly affect the understorey microclimate of the tree canopy.
  • Minor trimming of shrubs and plants under trees or the planting of vegetation.
  • Habitat augmentation for the benefit of the roosting animals such as the planting of additional roost trees.
  • Mowing of grass and similar grounds-keeping actions that will not create a major disturbance to roosting flying-foxes.
  • Application of mulch or removal of leaf litter or other material on the ground.

Level 1 routine camp management actions should not be carried out with the aim of damaging flying-fox habitat, or killing, harming or dispersing/disturbing flying-foxes.

What should I consider before implementing Level 1 management actions?

Community engagement

Community engagement will be an important part of any camp management plan. The local community should be engaged before undertaking any camp management actions. See the Working with Communities fact sheet.

Hierarchy of management actions

Consideration should be given to how any management actions proposed for a flying-fox camp conform to the hierarchy of actions in the camp management policy.


Consider the timing of management actions. See below: When can I implement Level 1 management actions?

Mitigating flying-fox impacts offsite

The impacts of flying-foxes on nearby residents and buildings can be reduced in a number of ways:

  • Dense planting to create screens at residential boundaries can assist in reducing smell, noise and general amenity impacts.
  • Acoustic insulation such as double-glazed windows can address noise issues.
  • Installation of air-conditioners can help when strong odours prevent windows and doors from being left open.
  • Clothes dryers can be used when outdoor clothes lines may be subject to flying-fox droppings.

Other measures include shade cloths for yards, covers for cars, and subsidies for power bills and car washing.

Land managers should consider the relative costs and benefits of managing the flying-fox camp versus providing assistance or financial subsidies for offsite mitigation. Both approaches may be required in some circumstances.

Relevant approvals

Permits and/or approvals from Commonwealth, state and local governments may still be required. See Approvals and Licences section below.

How do I implement Level 1 management actions?

  • Clearly identify routine camp management actions as Level 1 camp management actions in the camp management plan. Download the camp management template (PDF 355KB).
  • Obtain licences and/or approvals from Office of Environment and Heritage and Council when required.
  • Before starting minor works, conduct a health and safety risk assessment to determine the appropriate levels of personal protective equipment required and identify protocols to minimise risks to both the public and flying-foxes.
  • Workers should be made aware of the potential health risks associated with working with flying-foxes (see Flying-foxes and Human Health fact sheet).
  • Consider commencing works in the area of the camp farthest from where the flying-foxes are roosting, and working slowly towards the roost, or alternatively, leaving the area nearest the flying-foxes until early evening.
  • Minimise the use of loud machinery or equipment that produces sudden impacts or sudden loud sounds.
  • If chainsaws are needed, start the chainsaw away from the roost and let it run for a short time to allow flying-foxes to adjust. Then move closer to flying-foxes and repeat the procedure.
  • Where possible, park vehicles and equipment away from direct line of sight of roosting flying-foxes.
  • Consider avoiding the use of large crews.
  • Consider engaging a two-person crew, with a single person undertaking Level 1 management actions, and a second person as a 'spotter' to observe the activity of the flying-foxes for the purposes of ceasing work at the first sign of flying-fox disturbance (significant numbers of flying-foxes taking flight).
  • Ensure that management actions and results are recorded to inform future planning. See Monitoring and Evaluation fact sheet.

When can I implement Level 1 management actions?

  • Generally, Level 1 actions are best scheduled outside critical reproductive periods from the time when the resident female flying-foxes are heavily pregnant until the young can fly independently (generally from August to May for Grey-headed and Black Flying-foxes).
  • The reproductive cycle of Little Red Flying-foxes is different; mating generally occurs between November and January with young being born in April and May. This means that for camps containing Little Red Flying-foxes, management actions should be avoided from April to December.
  • The timing of the reproductive cycle varies between species and may vary slightly between regional areas.
  • Consider scheduling activity for when the roost is unoccupied (i.e. when the bats have left the site at dusk for nightly foraging activities) or, for non-permanent roosts, when the roost is seasonally unoccupied.
  • Level 1 management actions should not be undertaken in hot weather due to the likelihood of additional disturbance leading to heat stress in affected flying-foxes. Consider postponing work when temperatures are above 30°C, and avoid all works when temperatures are greater than 35°C during the day.
  • Where Level 1 management actions are required to be undertaken during the day, works must immediately cease and Office of Environment and Heritage be immediately notified if 30 per cent or more of the adult flying-foxes leave the roost for five minutes or more, or if the death of a flying-fox occurs as a result of the works.

For sites containing Grey-headed and/or Black Flying-foxes:

Level 1, 2 and 3 management actions not recommended Level 1, 2 and 3 management actions may be allowed Level 1, 2 and 3 management actions not recommended

Do I require approvals or licences for Level 1 management actions?

Office of Environment and Heritage will streamline licensing of routine flying-fox camp management actions when a camp management plan is prepared in accordance with the template provided.

Where licences are approved, they may be issued for up to five years. This will avoid land managers having to repeatedly seek approval from the State Government for ongoing camp management actions.

To obtain approval, land managers will submit their completed camp management plan to Office of Environment and Heritage. Office of Environment and Heritage will then guide the applicant through the necessary process for licensing. These statutory processes are set out in the 2015 Flying-fox Camp Management Policy.

Level 1 management actions can be licensed by Office of Environment and Heritage in a variety of ways and land managers are advised to take note of the following:

Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995

  • If the camp contains Grey-headed Flying-foxes and Level 1 management actions are proposed in a camp management plan, the actions will normally be able to be approved by Office of Environment and Heritage under section 95(2) under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
  • Where Level 1 actions are proposed in a camp management plan, a licensing decision will be made within twenty working days of application.
  • Go to more information on the licences.

National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974

  • In some cases a camp may only include Little Red Flying-foxes. Where this is the case a licence under section 120 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 may apply.
  • Where Black Flying-foxes are found, they usually co-occur with Grey-headed Flying-foxes which are covered under the TSC Act.
  • See further information on wildlife licences under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979

  • A licence or approval to alter the structure of flying-fox roost habitat does not remove the need to abide by the requirements of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTA Act).
  • See further information on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.

Approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

  • Actions under a management plan may also require approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 if they constitute 'development' for the purposes of that Act. Further information on administration and operation of that Act is available from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Are you aware of upcoming changes to wildlife licensing?

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.

More information on Level 1 management actions

Removal of tree limbs or whole trees that pose a genuine health and safety risk

Generally, clauses in Local Environment Plans (LEPs) or Development Control Plans (DCPs) are used to manage the pruning and removal of trees on both Council and private land. Clauses in LEPs and DCPs generally apply to trees meeting certain conditions (such as height, circumference or a specific species) and may also include trees located in a heritage conservation area or as part of a heritage item. Often clauses do not apply to weeds declared noxious under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993.

When planning for removal of tree limbs or whole trees in a flying-fox camp, Office of Environment and Heritage recommends land managers appoint a qualified professional arborist to record evidence that a tree or other vegetation is a risk to human life or property and justifies the removal of tree limbs or whole trees. No roost tree should be trimmed when there are flying-foxes in that part of the tree being trimmed, or when flying-foxes are near to the tree and likely to be harmed as a result of the trimming.

Weed removal, including removal of noxious weeds or species listed as undesirable by council

In many camp sites, understorey weeds provide important roosting habitat for flying-foxes, especially in heat stress events. Excessive weed removal may negatively impact the value of the site to flying-foxes, increase roosting pressure on remaining vegetation or result in high mortality rates during heat stress events.

When planning for weed removal, Office of Environment and Heritage recommends weed control and removal to be site-specific and staged, i.e. changing the structure of the vegetation slowly in a mosaic pattern to balance availability of understorey vegetation in heat stress events with the gradual recovery needs of the camp site. The short term goal for weed removal should be to remove priority and transformer weeds. These include:

  • vine weeds that threaten roost tree survival, e.g. madeira vine, morning glory, asparagus vine, cat's claw creeper, corky passionfruit, balloon vine
  • understorey weeds that prevent natural regeneration, although this should be done with caution (see staging, above) e.g. Singapore daisy, lantana
  • weeds that cause harm to flying-foxes, e.g. Cocos palms.

A longer-term goal may be to remove all weed species and replace them with native species that provide a similar structure and composition typical of the native vegetation community, aiming for eventual restoration of ecosystem function.

There is little evidence (PDF 3.4MB) to suggest that the use of herbicides to remove weeds impacts on roosting flying-foxes, provided that:

  • legislative and licensing requirements of use are adhered to, particularly given most roost sites are near waterways
  • direct application techniques are used (e.g. cut and paint, stem injection, stem scraping), high wind conditions are avoided, and foliar overspray is avoided.

Minor habitat augmentation for the benefit of roosting animals

Unfortunately, roosting flying-foxes defoliate trees as they move within camps. The individual spacing of the Grey-headed and Black Flying-foxes generally limits the amount of structural damage done to trees. However, Little Red Flying-foxes roost in clumps of many individuals and this can cause significant structural damage to roost trees.

Camps are often located in small remnants of vegetation and flying-foxes do not have room to move and allow regeneration to occur, resulting in the steady degradation of canopy.

In order to mitigate structural damage to roost trees, land managers managing flying-foxes may choose to conduct minor habitat augmentation for the benefit of the roosting animals and plant vegetation.

Depending on species, trees planted within the core camp area may take several years before they reach five metres and are used by flying-foxes for roosting. Species appropriate to the vegetation community (e.g. acacias, casuarinas, white cedar), are usually most suitable to rapidly establish new roost habitat. It is also worth considering including tree species that are more resilient to roosting (e.g. some eucalypts).

Seek assistance from Office of Environment and Heritage if required

Office of Environment and Heritage supports local government, public authority land managers and individual land holders to select the appropriate Level of intervention for their situation. As outlined in Section 3 of the Camp Management Policy, activities may be low impact such as trimming vegetation in the camp, more active in terms of modifying vegetation and habitat, or targeted at disturbing or dispersing camps in certain circumstances.

When required, Office of Environment and Heritage will assign a support officer to provide advice on statutory requirements and assist land managers or local governments in developing flying-fox camp management plans and engaging with the community.

Useful resources

Page last updated: 09 August 2017