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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

17 October 1999

HILL ACTS TO PROTECT AUSTRALIAN BATS


The mysteries surrounding one of the world's least known groups of mammals may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the release today of a new report on Australian bats.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says while bats have traditionally been associated with vampires and horror movies, awareness of these fascinating animals is gradually improving.

"Bats are the second largest group of mammals in the world, comprising 950 species. In Australia alone there are 90 species, which represent 25 per cent of Australian land mammals. The Action Plan for Australian Bats aims to provide a national overview of the conservation of these 90 species," Senator Hill said.

"While bats appear to have survived European settlement of Australia better than many other animals, the negative effects of human settlement are beginning to show. The Action Plan for Australian Bats suggests that of these 90 species, one is extinct, and nine are endangered or vulnerable. However, it is of greater concern that there are a further 14 species about which so little is known that their conservation status can not be determined."

Key threats to Australian bats include habitat clearing and disturbance of roosting sites; forest harvesting and the collapse, closure or re-working of old mines. The report suggests a number of key recommendations to address these issues.

"The loss of habitat is probably the most serious issue affecting the long-term survival of Australian bats. Habitat loss threatens 23 per cent of the 90 species in this country through activities such as agricultural clearing, urban settlement and forestry activities," he said.

v "A key recommendation of the Natural Heritage Trust-funded report is to continue the national revegetation and habitat preservation works commenced under the Government's Bushcare and National Reserve System Programs.

"Other recommendations include on-ground action to protect bat roosts, for example by installing gates at roost entrances to prevent human access, and establishment of a national Bat Expert panel to provide advice on implementing The Action Plan for Australian Bats.

"The Action Plan for Australian Bats will play a key role in determining priorities for conservation research and the actions necessary to protect our bats," Senator Hill said.

The report is available from Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on toll-free 1800 803 772 or can be found on the Internet at: http://www.biodiversity.environment.gov.au/plants/threaten/plans/action_plans

Contacts:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill) (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364
Anne-Marie Delahunt (Environment Australia) (02) 6274 2240

Commonwealth of Australia