A Plan for the Cairns CBD Spectacled Flying-Fox Camp. Its Potential for Eco-Tourism and Education

Elaboration, 2014

16 Pages



Targeted Audience and Statement of Purpose

Desired Outcome

Key Terms

Current Situation


Background to, and Rationale for, the Plan

Planning Process

Table of Strategies and Actions

Monitoring and Evaluation



Targeted Audience and Statement of Purpose

This six-week Plan, finalised in October 2014, was prepared for the Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland (EDO NQ). It aims to communicate to EDO NQ and other interested parties the potential for a Communication Tool to reach the key decision-makers listed in the Plan. Its objective is to raise awareness of the important contribution the Cairns Central Business District (CBD) spectacled flying-fox (SFF) (Pteropus conspicillatus) camp makes towards Cairns’ ‘green’ image and the associated potential for bat eco-tourism/education (statement of purpose). As will be explained, the emphasis is on Cairns’ green image and eco-tourism/education rather than ecological factors.

Desired Outcome

It is envisaged the Plan will be but one step in a much larger and longer plan (see Fig. 3), whose ideal outcome is to preserve and enhance the Cairns CBD SFF camp (on Council land and private land owned by the BRCP Oasis Land Pty Ltd, a portion of which is currently vacant/undeveloped) by maintaining the existing large trees on the site(s) with the view to capitalising on the SFF’s tourism/educational potential (long-term goal – see Fig. 3).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 3 Flow-chart of stages in the long-term plan, clockwise from top. Stages are not in strict order, as different groups/individuals are focusing on different aspects, often simultaneously (including this Plan’s author).

Key Terms

AC = Advance Cairns

AUSTROP = Australian Tropical Research Foundation

CAFNEC = Cairns and Far North Environment Centre

Camp = bats’ daytime roost for sleeping, resting, protection from predators and weather, grooming, social interaction, information exchange, mating, birthing and caring for young

CBD = Central Business District

CCC = Cairns Chamber of Commerce

CEO = Chief Executive Officer

CRC = Cairns Regional Council

CSIRO = Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

EDO NQ = Environmental Defenders Office of North Queensland

Flying-fox = fruit bat

GBR = Great Barrier Reef

JCU = James Cook University

PNG = Papua New Guinea

Pteropus conspicillatus = spectacled flying-fox

SFF = spectacled flying-fox

TTNQ = Tourism Tropical North Queensland

WHA = World Heritage area

WT = Wet Tropics

Note that flying-fox ‘camp’, rather than ‘colony’, is used in this Plan. This is because ‘colony’ implies each bat is a somewhat permanent dweller, whereas individual flying-foxes arbitrarily stay at camps for short and long periods, and move among a number of different camps (Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society Inc, 2011). In other words, when bats fly out at night to feed, some return to the same camp, while some go to other camps. Also, the following morning, ‘new’ bats may arrive from elsewhere.

However, the Cairns CBD camp is different from some other camps in the region in that it is also a nursery, where SFF give birth to pups (September-October) and care for them until they can fly out independently, several months later. It should nevertheless be noted that research and reliable data on Australian flying-foxes are lacking (Westcott, McKeown, Murphy, & Fletcher, 2011).

Current Situation

EDO NQ should have sufficient volunteers, including the writer, to implement the Plan (although it can always use more). While EDO does not have a formal planning hierarchy in which the Plan can be neatly slotted, it may form part of their overall communication strategy on this issue.

EDO NQ has issued press releases, provided legal advice to local residents, and generally raised public awareness of the importance of the Cairns CBD camp. However it has not specifically targeted decision-makers in the way this Plan does.


In preparing this Plan, the writer acknowledges the invaluable assistance given, in particular, by Brynn Mathews (EDO NQ), Jennefer Maclean (Tolga Bat Hospital), Angelika Ziehrl (CAFNEC), and Deborah Pergolotti (Frog Safe Cairns). The writer also thanks Dr Hugh Spencer (AUSTROP) for his constructive feedback to the Communication Tool.

Background to, and Rationale for, the Plan

The Cairns CBD SFF camp has been used by this species for at least 35 years (Wild, 2012). However, in recent years the SFF population has allegedly increased, and concerns have been raised about noise, smell, bat faeces, and the spread of disease. The camp is located over two CRC Division 5 city blocks (see Fig. 4) bounded by Florence St (north-west), Abbott St (north-east) Lake St (south-west) and the Cairns City Library and adjacent buildings (red arrow). The Novotel Oasis Resort (orange arrow) is within the site. The block on which the resort is situated was once occupied by a primary school, and it is understood some of the (now large) trees were planted many years ago by school children on Arbor Day and when the Oasis was built these trees had to remain.

Land containing the temporary car park to the west of the orange arrow has recently been sold, and an aquarium is planned for this site. The aquarium owners have indicated they plan to retain the existing large trees (an outlying part of the flying-fox camp) and include bat tourism in the complex, with a window looking out to the vegetation and wildlife (Parsons, 2013) .

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig 4. Cairns CBD SFF camp (original photo: RPS Australia East Pty Ltd, 2013; arrows added by the author).

The vacant land fringed by trees at the opposite (southern) end of the resort from the temporary car park is for sale. To improve the chances of sale, and presumably obtain a better price, the owners, BRCP Oasis Land Pty Ltd, have applied to CRC to remove all trees, as well as some trees around the hotel itself. Both CRC (under threat of legal action from Oasis) and the Federal Government have now approved the application.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to disperse the bats from the site, in 2014 CRC engaged contractors to prune (allegedly not within approval requirements) the large trees adjacent to the library (labelled red in Fig. 5) and, in an arrangement with Novotel, on the south-eastern corner of the vacant Oasis land (labelled yellow). CRC also removed one of the large trees behind the library (red 4), allegedly because it was diseased, but also coincidentally because a new bus station was under construction there. Another tree near the library (red 5) was fenced off for CRC removal, due to an independent arborist’s report declaring it diseased. However, from September 2014 this work was held up because Federal approval had not been given and flying-foxes were giving birth there. Many of these pups were premature, still-born and deformed, a major cause of concern especially given the camp’s trees were ‘pruned’ six months earlier, possibly causing stress for the newly-pregnant animals (Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Quensland, 2014, 8 October).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 5. Main Cairns CBD trees occupied by SFF (Wild, 2012).


Excerpt out of 16 pages


A Plan for the Cairns CBD Spectacled Flying-Fox Camp. Its Potential for Eco-Tourism and Education
James Cook University
Communicating Sustainability and Climate Change
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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plan, cairns, spectacled, flying-fox, camp, potential, eco-tourism, education
Quote paper
Frank Pagram (Author), 2014, A Plan for the Cairns CBD Spectacled Flying-Fox Camp. Its Potential for Eco-Tourism and Education, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/301740


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