Neighbours of Ku-ring-gai Flying-fox Reserve: community attitudes survey 2001
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Elisabeth Larsen, Marjorie Beck, Elizabeth Hartnell, Michael Creenaune, 2002. "Neighbours of Ku-ring-gai Flying-fox Reserve: community attitudes survey 2001", Managing the Grey-headed Flying-fox: As a Threatened Species in NSW, Peggy Eby, Daniel Lunney
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There is little information available on which to base strategies for managing colonies of Grey-headed Flying-foxes Pteropus poliocephalus in urban areas. Since 1985, the Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society (KBCS) has managed a program of habitat restoration in the flying-fox camp at Ku-ring-gai Flying-fox Reserve (the Reserve) in suburban Sydney, and conducted an ongoing program of public education on the role of flying-foxes in the ecosystem. In 2001, the KBCS conducted a survey of households neighbouring the Reserve to examine the attitudes of the local residents to the flying-fox colony, to identify some of the factors that influence residents' attitudes to flying-foxes, and to gain an understanding of the effectiveness of the KBCSs public education program. Surveys forms were distributed to 129 households; 101 completed surveys were returned. 56% of respondents stated a strongly positive or positive attitude to ‘living near the flying-fox colony’ while 11% stated a negative attitude. Attitudes were influenced by the distance from the colony, with those living near the edge of the colony reporting the most negative attitudes to the flying-foxes. 88% of respondents had heard of the KBCS, however, only 17% had participated in activities run by the group. The survey indicated that people with a good understanding of flying-fox ecology were more likely to have a positive attitude to the colony. An apparent lack of awareness among respondents of basic flying-fox ecology, methods of viral disease transmission, the Management Plan for the Reserve and the Habitat Restoration Project, indicated that the KBCS education program had not reached the local community as effectively as expected.
It is recommended: 1) that managers of the Reserve continue to distribute information on flying-foxes to local residents and explore methods to reach those who do not actively seek information; 2) that a buffer zone of at least 50 metres between the colony in the Reserve and houses should be introduced into the Ku-ring-gai Local Environment Plan, and no dwelling should be permitted within the buffer zone; 3) that the authorities responsible for managing other flying-fox colonies undertake ongoing programs of community education and consultation; 4) that other Local Government Authorities conduct community surveys to establish the distance needed for buffer zones around flying-fox camps and that this information be incorporated into their Local Environment Plans; and 5) that searches of historical records be undertaken to establish the locations of flying-fox camps so that forward planning can be undertaken.