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New housing for local bat population

A threatened micro bat population near Albion Park has new housing thanks to a joint project involving local school students, community organisations, Holcim Australia Pty Limited and government agencies with support from the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative.

Fifteen wooden bat boxes have been installed in trees on Holcim land as part of the Filling the Gap project, that is establishing wildlife conservation corridors between Stockyard Mountain and Shellharbour Hills to protect endangered plant and animal species.

South East Local Land Services project officer, Leesa Swan said bats typically roost in tree hollows, but due to urban expansion and the decline in the number of mature trees in the area their nesting opportunities have been substantially reduced.

"The artificial roosts will provide instant nesting opportunities for a number of threatened micro bat species such as the greater broad-nosed bat," Ms Swan said.

In March, more than 90 Year 6 Mt Terry Public School students provided the project with people power and planted 1,000 native trees over three days.

The Port Kembla Men's shed built the bat nest boxes which will act as supplementary homes until the new plants have established well enough to provide longer term habitat.

Ms Swan said micro bats, which are a distinctly different species to flying foxes, range in size from about 4 to 10 centimetres.

"Micro bats are very important to our health and the environment as they consume vast quantities of pest and disease carrying insects," Ms Swan said.

"They also pollinate and disperse plant seeds.

"Bats share the same senses as humans in smelling, hearing, seeing and feeling and have an exceptional navigation and detection system called echolocation," Ms Swan said.

The bat population will be monitored by project staff using burrow scopes – small light-weight video cameras on long poles – to ensure the new tenants are nesting and settling into their accommodation.

This project is funded by Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife and NSW Environmental Trust. Project partners include NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Holcim Australia Pty Limited, Greater Eastern Ranges Initiative, Landcare Illawarra, Port Kembla Men's Shed, Mount Terry Public School, Landcare Illawarra and South East Local Land Services.

Media contact:

Leesa Swan 
02 4224 9708