Country News

Going batty over paddock trees

By Jamieson Salter

Paddock trees are essential for the protection of our native bat species in the Goulburn Valley region, a Shepparton forum was told.

The paddock tree forum was held at Eastbank on Monday, October 21, where a number of presenters spoke about the value of paddock trees across our landscape.

About 80 people attended the forum organised by the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority.

Researcher from DELWP's Arthur Rylah Institute, Lindy Lumsden, said a lack of tree regeneration would lead to the death of paddock trees and the disappearance of the bat population.

“It's important to protect any tree with hollows, whether they're dead or alive, even if it's small narrow cracks,” she said.

Bat boxes and man-made hollows can be made, but the best method of protecting these creatures was for farmers to look after trees with existing hollows.

Farmers can find them in dense scattered trees, which have the highest prevalence of bats, whereas open paddocks have the lowest.

The bats use open paddock trees for commuting rather than roosting, to avoid predators.

Many people are surprised by the number of bats that live on their properties, with some assuming they have no bats at all.

While researching in Numurkah, Ms Lumsden discovered 150 roosts in paddock trees and said even dead timber was important to bats.

Victoria alone is home to 13 different species of bats that use paddock trees for foraging and roosting.

“The bats are an important part of the landscape and eat the insects,” Ms Lumsden said.

The creatures eat the flying insect population and can eat half their body weight in a single night.

Ms Lumsden said there were less insects over winter, which is why we see more bats in the summertime.