Flying-fox Camp Management Code of Practice

The Flying-fox Camp Management Code of Practice 2018 helps local councils and other public land managers to manage flying-fox camps causing concern on public land while ensuring the welfare of flying-foxes.

Under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, low to moderate risk activities can be carried out in accordance with an enforceable code of practice.

The Flying-fox Camp Management Code of Practice 2018 (PDF 233KB) has been established to define the standards required for effective and humane management of flying-fox camps. Actions to manage a flying-fox camp that are consistent with the terms of the code of practice don't need a licence.

The code of practice is accompanied by guidance notes that provide flying-fox camp managers with additional information to help when undertaking camp management actions covered by the code of practice.

Guidance notes

These notes provide guidance for flying-fox camp managers undertaking camp management actions under the Flying-fox Camp Management Code of Practice 2018 (PDF 233KB) (the Code). This page should be read in conjunction with the Flying-fox Camp Management Policy 2015.

Camp managers don't need to apply for a licence under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (the Act) for actions covered by the Code when managing flying-fox camps.

Camp managers should prepare a camp management plan in consultation with affected communities for all flying-fox camp management actions. A Flying-fox Camp Management Template (DOC 6.3MB) is available.

Some high impact and high-risk actions under the Code will require the development of a camp management plan. Under Part 2 of the Code, section 6(10)(c) states that 'a camp management plan is to specify the procedures for obtaining the endorsement of the Environment Agency Head under this Code'. Camp managers should submit their camp management plan in writing to the nearest Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water regional office for endorsement and allow a minimum of 15 working days for the Environment Agency Head to respond.

Camp management actions should be carried out in a way that minimises disturbance to flying-foxes in the camp. For example, vegetation trimming should be carried out when flying-foxes are absent from the camp, either when they are foraging at night or when the camp is seasonally empty.

Camp management actions should not be carried out if the camp contains females that are in the third trimester of pregnancy according to a flying-fox expert, or have dependent young that cannot fly on their own.

Camp managers should obtain advice from a flying-fox expert before carrying out camp management actions. A flying-fox expert should be present at the time trees are being trimmed or removed in a camp that is occupied by flying-foxes. The expert should assess the relevant conditions and advise the camp manager whether the action should go ahead consistent with the standards outlined in the Code.

Local wildlife rehabilitation groups should be notified before camp management actions involving vegetation trimming or removal are carried out, so they can attend to any injured wildlife. Camp managers should monitor flying-foxes within one kilometre of actions that involve vegetation removal and stop work if any flying-foxes are found injured, killed or suffering from stress or fatigue. Camp managers should notify a wildlife rehabilitator immediately if a flying-fox is injured.

Camp managers should consider the relative costs and benefits of all potential camp management actions, including off-site mitigation measures to reduce impacts to nearby residents and buildings. Both on- and off-site mitigation or management actions may be required.

Camp managers undertaking actions across multiple flying-fox camps or repeated on-site management actions at one or more camps should consider their actions strategically and cumulatively and undertake appropriate strategic or regional planning to conform with the standards and outcomes outlined in the Code, including expert consultation and assistance and reference to available information sources.

Camp managers should commit to ongoing monitoring of flying-fox activity and community sentiment. 

Camp management actions at nationally important flying-fox camps may require referral to the Australian Government Department under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Understorey weeds can provide important roosting habitat for flying-foxes, especially in heat stress events. If weed removal is likely to result in significant changes to the camp microclimate, other plantings should be established before full removal of weeds to minimise changes to camp microclimate.

Habitat enhancement or creation should not be considered a direct replacement for habitat that is removed from a camp, due to the time lag between removal and the potential for occupation of the new habitat by flying-foxes.

Camp managers can consider replacing areas of flying-fox camps that require regular mowing with low shrubs less than 3 metres high, preferably in a mulched bed, which reduces the need for regular disturbance from maintenance works.

Flying-fox camps near human settlements will sometimes raise concerns about possible health risks to community members, as well as noise, odour and the impact of flying-fox droppings and urine on buildings, vehicles and washing. These concerns should be addressed within community engagement and decision-making processes.

Before carrying out camp management actions, the camp manager should contact the relevant government agency for information on the health risks that flying-fox camps may pose to human health (NSW Health), and animal health (NSW Department of Primary Industries).

Communications about health risks to communities from flying-foxes should be wholly consistent with the information provided by these agencies.

Horse owners near flying-fox camps should contact the NSW Department of Primary Industries for information.

Camp managers should balance social, economic and environmental pressures when managing flying-fox camps. This includes responding to impacted communities and dealing with conflict. Engagement approaches should be developed to be fit for purpose in each circumstance.

Education and engagement activities identify those people and organisations that are interested in and/or impacted by the flying-fox camp.

Well planned person-to-person engagement with the most affected residents supports their contribution to camp management strategies.

Camp managers should provide feedback on the results of community engagement and education to the community and relevant government agencies, including the Department.

Camp managers should ask for help from the Department to understand the regional context for flying-foxes, as well as appropriate tools and management responses. 

Camp managers should produce a map of the camp that includes flying-fox occupancy over time and the location of any management activities. This map should be provided to the Department. Examples of camp maps are provided in the Camp management plan template (DOC 6.3MB).

Camp managers should keep records of the community engagement actions carried out in developing and carrying out camp management actions.

Monitoring protocols should be carried out before, during and after camp management actions.

Public consultation

From April to June 2018, the NSW Government sought feedback from the community on the Draft Flying-fox Camp Management Code of Practice.

The public consultation report (PDF 229KB) summarises the 99 submissions that were received, including 9 form submissions.