26 September 2023

Sprinklers to relieve city bats from the heat

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In a world first, permanent sprinkler systems are to be installed at Yarra Bend Park in Melbourne to protect the State’s endangered flying foxes from heat stress.

Welcoming the initiative from the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Yarra Bend Golf, Wildlife Victoria and Zoos Victoria, the Minister for Environment and Climate Action, Lily D’Ambrosio said the new sprinkler systems would be installed by late 2022.

“The sprinkler system works to cool the flying foxes on days of extreme heat, helping reduce the impacts of climate change on the nationally endangered species and manage the risk to volunteers and Parks Victoria staff responding to heat stress events,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“The grey-headed flying fox or fruit bat plays a vital role pollinating and dispersing seed for native forests across the east coast of Australia,” she said.

“They are naturally susceptible to heat stress, with many individuals migrating south to cooler environments during summer.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said the systems would be placed at two sites that had been identified as important refuges for the grey-headed flying foxes.

Area Chief Ranger at Parks Victoria, Brendan Sullivan said trials of the sprinkler system over the last few years had shown that the bats quickly got used to the water.

“The best way to think of it is as a massive evaporative cooler that will lower the ambient temperature in the colony,” Mr Sullivan said.

“The system will challenge even the most experienced engineer: water must be drawn from the Yarra into the colony and the system needs to reach the eucalypt canopy 11 metres up, covering three and a half hectares.”

He said an electric pump and generator would power the systems with minimal noise.

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