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Four issues influencing the management of hollow-dependent bats are examined for the Pilliga forests of inland NSW. These are: 1) the longevity of eucalypts and implications for the strategies for retaining hollow trees; 2) the condition of the forests and woodlands of the Pilliga at the time of European settlement, focusing on densities of hollow trees; 3) the impact of fire and climate change on loss of tree hollows; and 4) the implications of recent ecological research on perceptions of the vulnerability of hollow-using bats. We argue the need for an urgent re-evaluation of these issues. Average tree longevity is likely to be much greater than previously acknowledged, the pre-European Pilliga was a forest with hollow-bearing tree densities approximating those of coastal and montane forests, rather than being an open woodland; and fire will significantly reduce the numbers of hollow trees. Consequently, hollow-using bats in the Pilliga are more vulnerable than previously realised, and densities of hollow-bearing trees need to be quantified across tenures. We suggest that densities of hollow-bearing trees to be retained under current logging prescriptions need to be revised upwards. A cross-tenure approach to management is needed, given that the Pilliga forests are about evenly divided between forest managed by DECCW and by Forests NSW, i.e. the difference between conservation and commercial priorities. We conclude that the protection of remaining hollow-bearing trees is the only effective option for managing the hollow-dependent bats in the Pilliga. We predict that local extinctions of a range of hollow-using bat species will occur without active management and monitoring to protect the remaining hollow-bearing trees, and the intermediate-aged, hollow-recruit trees, from logging and fire.

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