Congratulations go to Bat Advocacy NSW for standing up for what they believe in. This small conservation group have announced this week that they will be challenging in Federal Court the approval for the relocation of the Royal Botanic Garden’s (RBG) grey headed flying fox population.
The relocation has a number of significant issues, some of which I have previously discussed here and here. Another issue that I haven’t discussed, but which will form an important argument in Bat Advocacy’s case, is that the relocation is inconsistent with protection plans for the grey headed flying fox previously developed by the state and federal governments. These plans list protection of habitat as a high priority for the recovery of this vulnerable species yet the relocation is nothing more than the taking away of a prime piece of habitat.
Another major concern of Bat Advocacy is the open ended nature of the approval, which will allow the RBG to continually relocate the bats from anywhere they settle that is arbitrarily deemed “unsuitable” for the next 20 years.
Bat Advocacy will be working with the Environmental Defenders Office, a not-for-profit community legal centre that specialises in environmental law, and will receive financial support from the from Humane Society International. Despite this significant aid it is still a David vs Goliath battle for a conservation group to take on a government department in court.
However, whatever the outcome of the court case I believe this courageous action by Bat Advocacy will have some sort of positive effect. The RBG is run by the state government and final approval for the project has to come from the federal government. The court case will undoubtedly raise the public profile of this issue and if the outcry about it is loud enough maybe at least one level of government will be convinced to look more thoroughly at the alternatives to uprooting tens of thousands of these gorgeous and ecologically important creatures