Authorised flying-fox roost management

Management of flying-fox roosts

The Queensland Government recognises the need for urban flying-fox roosts to be managed in a way that addresses both community expectations and the long-term conservation of flying-foxes which play an important role as pollinators for many native plant species.

Local governments’ as-of-right authority to manage flying-fox roosts

The government also recognises the important role local governments continue to play in managing issues around flying-fox roosts in urban areas. Local governments have an as-of right authority under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (the Act) to manage flying-fox roosts in Urban Flying-Fox Management Areas (UFFMA).

The as-of-right management activities are limited to non-lethal methods, and may only be undertaken in accordance with the Code of practice—Ecologically sustainable management of flying-fox roosts (PDF, 95 KB) . The code of practice ensures acceptable welfare outcomes for flying-foxes.

If a local government commits to roost management activities under the code of practice, it has a number of actions at its disposal including destroying a roost, driving flying-foxes away from a roost, or moving flying-foxes within a roost e.g. using water sprinklers or floodlighting or tree trimming to create a ‘buffer’ between flying-foxes and residences. The code of practice and the Flying-fox roost management guideline (PDF, 3.3 MB) assists decision-making regarding management options at flying-fox roosts.

Activities affecting the spectacled flying-fox and grey-headed flying-fox may be subject to referral to the Commonwealth under the EPBC Act in the event of likely significant impact.

Flying-fox roost management framework review

In 2018 the Queensland Government began a comprehensive review of the flying-fox roost management framework.

Throughout 2018 and 2019 the department undertook four rounds of consultation with the Local Government Association of Queensland, relevant councils as well as scientific experts and conservation groups on the Flying-Fox Roost Management Codes of Practice and Roost Management Guideline, to ensure the new framework met the needs of local governments and their communities impacted by flying-fox roosts, as well as conservation and animal welfare groups.

The review has produced a balanced framework which provides councils with a better range of options to be able to effectively manage urban flying-fox roosts, while at the same time ensuring conservation and welfare outcomes for all species of flying-fox. A new online notification and evaluation web form were also introduced as part of this review, enabling better data collection while reducing paperwork.

Flying-fox roost management permits

Local governments wishing to either conduct activities within an UFFMA that are not compliant with a code of practice, or manage a roost outside of an UFFMA, are required to obtain a flying-fox roost management permit (DOCX, 135 KB) (FFRMP) from the department. Individuals may also apply for a FFRMP.

Operating outside of the code of practice, or outside of an UFFMA without a FFRMP is not authorised and may have legal consequences. For example, actions could breach sections of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 or the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 as well as the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Determining when a congregation of flying-foxes meets the statutory definition of a flying-fox roost

In Queensland, the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) is the primary legislation that regulates flying-fox roost management. S88C of the NCA prohibits the destruction of a flying-fox roost, driving away or attempting to drive away flying-foxes from a roost and the disturbance of a flying-fox in a roost, unless a person is authorised to do so.

Many places/trees where flying-foxes congregate are occupied regularly, and clearly meet the definition of a flying-fox roost under s88C. However, in some cases the circumstances are more complex, particularly in relation to newly established sites or sites that are very infrequently occupied by flying-foxes.

The ‘Interim policy for determining when a flying-fox congregation is regarded as flying-fox roost under section 88C of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (PDF, 319 KB) has been drafted to address and help clarify several key aspects of the flying-fox roost definition and provides a consistent application of the definition, whilst having regard to the variable nature of flying-fox biology and behaviour. This Interim policy is available to guide decisions by departmental officers, local governments and/or their agents, and landholders, and will be open for consultation with stakeholders and interested parties later in 2021.

Flying-fox roost management notification form

Authorised management under the Code of practice—Ecologically sustainable management of flying-fox roosts (PDF, 95 KB) requires that the department be notified at least two business days prior to commencing any management actions. The purpose of notification is to enable the department to know the type and extent of authorised flying-fox roost management actions being undertaken across Queensland.

Notification form

Flying-fox roost management evaluation form

The purpose of this evaluation form is to enable the department to record the outcome of authorised flying-fox roost management actions being undertaken in order to improve roost management practices and conservation outcomes for flying-foxes in Queensland. This form also satisfies the requirements of a Return of Operations.

Evaluation form

Low impact activities affecting flying-fox roosts

All persons are authorised to undertake low impact activities at roosts in accordance with the Code of practice—Low impact activities affecting flying-fox roosts (PDF, 89 KB) Low impact activities include weeding, mulching, mowing or minor tree trimming. If you have any specific questions please refer to Flying-foxes: questions and answers.

Operating outside of the code of practice is not authorised and may have legal consequences.

Statements of management intent

A key element of any flying-fox management program is the provision of information, particularly for those urban areas directly affected by flying-fox roosts. To assist local governments in engaging their communities, they may develop and publish a Statement of Management Intent (SoMI). For more information about a SoMI refer to the Flying-fox roost management guideline (PDF, 3.3 MB) .

The statement will articulate a local government’s plans for how it will manage both existing and new roosts in its UFFMA and ensure that communities are well informed about how their local government will deal with flying-fox roosts. (A template (PDF, 136 KB) that councils can use to prepare a Statement of Management Intent is available on this website as a guide).

The Nature Conservation Act 1992 has been amended to give the Minister for Environment and Science the ability to require a local government to develop and publish a Statement of Management Intent for roost management in its UFFMA. Examples of where this action may be taken include situations where there is a potential breach in the Code of practice—Ecologically sustainable management of flying-fox roosts (PDF, 95 KB) or where there has been inadequate community engagement.

Flying-fox management plans

Local governments also have the option to develop a flying-fox management plan to cover their entire local government area. If the plan is endorsed by the department, local governments will be able to be granted a three-year approval to manage flying-fox roosts outside of urban areas. This will reduce the need for reactive requests for approvals for individual roost sites outside of urban areas.

A whole-of-local government area flying-fox management plan could identify areas where flying-foxes roosts may be problematic and where flying-foxes should be discouraged from roosting. It could also identify alternative sites where new roosts may be encouraged, or left to establish with minimal intervention.

An attempt by anyone other than a local government to manage or disperse a flying-fox roost requires a flying-fox roost management permit.

While the health and wellbeing of people is central to the Queensland Government’s new approach, the sustainability of Queensland’s flying-fox species will not be put at risk. Widespread culling of flying-foxes will not be authorised.

Improving our understanding of flying-fox roost management

The department is committed to continually improving the flying-fox roost management framework so that the arrangements in place are effective, based on sound science, and do not put Queensland’s flying-fox populations at risk.

The management of urban flying-fox roosts has remained problematic for decades in urban areas despite the application of various management interventions by local governments.

The biology and behaviour of flying-foxes, and little red flying-foxes in particular, are poorly understood and further scientific research is required to better inform the management of these animals at flying-fox roost sites.

To support this, in June 2016, the Minister announced a $2.7 million program to be run over three years to improve our understanding and management of flying-fox roosts in urban areas. This important scientific work is intended to facilitate improved practices for management of urban flying-fox roosts, leading to a reduction in negative impacts on communities. The program is being implemented in collaboration with local councils and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Further information and forms

Available from the library catalogue

The documents referred to on this page are available from the department’s online library catalogue.

Flying-fox roost management notifications

Local government notifications for proposed as-of-right flying-fox management activities in urban flying-fox management areas from 1 January 2021 to present
Local Government Area (LGA) Total per LGA Roost location Count of notifications per roost location
Barcaldine Regional Council 1 Fir Street 1
Burdekin Regional Council 1 Lloyd Mann Park Home Hill 3
Cairns Regional Council 12 Cairns Library 12
Charters Towers Regional Council 1 Lissner Park 1
Gladstone Regional Council 3 Alf Larson/Lions Park 1
Canoe Point 1
Miriam Vale 1
Gold Coast City Council 4 Gemma Glade 1
Geraldton Street 1
Fred Cass Park 1
Preston Park 1
Gympie Regional Council 7 Commissioners Gulley 7
Hinchinbrook Shire Council 9 Ingham Memorial Gardens 9
Ipswich City Council 2 Queens Park 2
Moreton Bay Regional Council 11 Redcliffe Botanical Gardens 8
Sweeney Reserve 2
Ghost Gum Court Park 1
Noosa Regional Council 2 Wallace Park 2
Rockhampton Regional Council 5 Botanic Gardens 4
Spencer Street 1
Southern Downs Regional Council 2 Stanthorpe 2
Sunshine Coast Council 5 Emerald Woods 2
Pecan Park 1
Kuluin Neighbourhood Park 1
Porter Park 1
Townsville City Council 18 Palmetum 9
Dan Gleeson 9
Whitsunday Regional Council 2 Pelican Park 1
Collinsville 1
Grand total16 87
Summary of local government notifications for proposed as-of-right flying-fox management activities in urban flying-fox management areas from 2013 to 2020
Year Number of councils Number of roosts Number of notifications
2013 2 2 2
2014 19 36 61
2015 14 19 30
2016 24 41 149
2017 25 40 116
2018 16 27 94
2019 19 38 133
2020 15 34 101
Number of approved flying-fox roost management permits (FFRMP) 1 January 2018 to present
Local Government Area (LGA)CouncilPrivate Grand total
Grand total 1 4 5
Summary of flying-fox roost management permits (FFRMP) issued per year 2013–2017
Year No. of FFRMPs: council No. of FFRMPs: private Total no. of FFRMPs
2013 1 3 4
2014 4 9 13
2015 5 8 13
2016 12 8 20
2017 5 14 19