Flying Fox Orchard Netting Scheme
Posted on: 05.05.2017
Wollondilly Shire Council has written to State and Federal Governments bodies to request a continuance of the Flying Fox Netting Subsidy Scheme. The subsidy was fully committed by March 2016 and the scheme, managed by the Dept. of Primary Industries Rural Assistance Authority, supported local farmers by providing them with funding to purchase and install protective netting over their orchards.
The scheme proved to be very successful but has not been extended and unfortunately a number of orchardists across the Wollondilly and the State have been left without appropriate ways to protect their crops and their financial livelihood.
Council has put forward this request as there is a continued impact on orchardists by flying foxes and additional funding is needed to protect the orchards. A media release from the ‘House of Representatives - Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy’ in late February 2017 stated that due to the clearing of their natural habitat and a state wide shortage of their food supplies flying foxes are becoming more common in urban areas across the east coast.
This means that species found in the Wollondilly area, such as the endangered Grey Headed Flying Fox, are looking to the fruit trees of orchards in the Wollondilly region as their new food sources.
The Grey Headed Flying Fox is a nationally protected species and therefore any attempts to disperse or cull them must be licensed by the Office of Environment and Heritage. Netting of orchards is the best recommended practice for protecting crops from flying fox impacts. It has proven to be the most environmentally friendly and safest option for flying foxes and growers and at a time when orchardists are already experiencing large income losses from the impacts of flying foxes the cost of purchasing protective netting becomes too expensive.
“Having been in operation for over 36 years the Cedar Creek Orchard, and others within the region, are the backbone of Wollondilly’s agricultural economy. It is important that Council support our farmers andcampaign the State and Federal Governments to reinstate the Orchard Netting Scheme so that our farmers can receive the financial support they need to protect their crops.” said Luke Johnson, General Manager.