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Expert warning over resorts’ bid to prunes bat trees


A FLYING fox expert has warned the trimming of bat trees at the Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort would need to be done branch-by-branch under close supervision to avoid another environmental crackdown by the State Government.

Cairns Regional Council today will decide on an application by Novotel to remove two trees and trim three trees by up to 20 per cent at its Lake St resort in the CBD.

The application comes months after the council was fined $15,000 for disturbing flying foxes and trimming trees in 2014.

Wild About Australia biologist Dr Martin Cohen, who also is the council’s consultant and chairman of its flying fox committee, met the council six weeks ago to inspect the site.

He said the two trees the hotel planned to remove were not used by flying foxes but believed the proposal to trim the other three tree canopies by up to 20 per cent was too much.

He said the work would need to be undertaken in March or April next year, after breeding season, otherwise “all hell would break loose”.

“It probably doesn’t make a huge difference, but if they accidentally (trim) 25 per cent, it will,” Dr Cohen said.

“They need someone like me to watch and talk them through which branches,” he said.

“They (flying foxes) can’t just fly around and not come back. They will settle somewhere else. We don’t want them at the Esplanade or Shields street.”

A council report said a poinciana, a mango tree and a beach calophyllum would be pruned.

A coconut tree next to the pool would be removed due to damage to the hotel pool and path, while an apple blossom at the front of the property would be cut down due to “poor health and instability”.

The hotel originally wanted to trim the three tree canopies by up to 30 per cent but in the report that amount of trimming was described as “not acceptable”.

The report says fallen branches and potential dropping branches are “a danger to infrastructure, pedestrians and vehicles.”

Advice from an aborist in the report shows one tree is infested, rotten and decayed, while another is in “rapid decline” with a very poor sap flow. Others are in “average” or “good” health.

If native wildlife is found the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection needs to be contacted.

Approval to trim and remove trees occupied by flying foxes would also need to be granted by the state and federal governments.

The Novotel Oasis Resort’s director of sales was contacted for comment.

Quck trim turns costly for Council

August 2014: Cairns Regional Council approves the felling of 11 mango and fig trees from the site of the Novotel Oasis Resort on Lake St. The hotelier claimed the bats were a potential health risk and their noise and smell had reduced patronage.

September 2014: The Federal Government grants permission to start clearing works after May 1, 2015.

May 2015: Contractors start removing trees watched by protesters.

August 2016: The council is fined $15,000 after pleading guilty to three charges for disturbing flying foxes and trimming trees in 2014.

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Megabats and Microbats: Expert warning over resorts’ bid to prunes bat trees
Expert warning over resorts’ bid to prunes bat trees
Expert warning over resorts’ bid to prunes bat trees
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