New Project: Susan Island – Restoring to Reduce Conflict

Clarence Valley Council is excited to announce a new flying-fox project: Susan Island – Restoring to Reduce Conflict. This project is grant funded through the Local Government New South Wales 10-year Flying-fox Habitat Restoration Program and aims to improve flying-fox habitat on Susan Island.

The Susan Island Nature Reserve – which has a significant area of intact remnant floodplain rainforest once covering the banks of coastal rivers throughout northern New South Wales - is already an important roosting and breeding area for the threatened Grey-headed and Little Red flying-foxes. In recent years, however, we have seen a dramatic decline in seasonal flying-fox numbers on the island due to the 2019 influx of Little Reds and the vegetation damage they caused in the reserve. Subsequent seasons have instead seen ‘spill-over’ influxes of flying-foxes into residential areas in South Grafton and Grafton, causing much conflict in the community.

Habitat restoration of this Susan Island camp is therefore essential to encourage flying-foxes back to the island and minimise these 'spill over' events into neighbouring urban areas. The Susan Island – Restoring to Reduce Conflict project plans to do this through restoration activities like weed control and revegetation in the island’s remaining Crown Land to extend the existing rainforest canopy. This will not only increase suitable habitat that supports healthy flying-fox populations but will have positive flow on effects for the overall biodiversity of Susan Island. Council will work closely with NPWS and the Susan and Elizabeth Island Recreation Land Manager (SEIRLM), who already manage bush regeneration work on the island.

Council will also work closely with Nyami Julgaa, the cultural custodians of Susan Island. This group of Aboriginal women have a close and ongoing association with the island and its rainforest, with an important women's site located there. The project seeks to enhance community engagement around the cultural practices and use of the island, as well as increase general community understanding of flying-foxes and their importance in wider ecosystem health. Through this project Council is excited to improve overall attitudes towards flying-foxes by providing the community with more opportunities to view and engage with our local batty friends.

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