The membership of Council's Flying-fox Advisory Committee (FFAC) includes:
- two elected representatives
- two invited experts
- two community representatives
- one representative from a suitable animal welfare group
- Council Officers
- Invited representatives of various local, state and federal government departments.
Committee Members 2020
Jennefer Mclean Director Tolga Bat Rescue and Research
Jennefer Mclean began working with bats in 1990 and founded Tolga Bat Rescue and Research (aka Tolga Bat Hospital) in 2002. She was born in Cairns and her mother's family were some of the first white settlers in the area - chopping down the rainforest, starting timber mills and planting sugar cane. Her passion for the conservation of flying foxes is in part environmental recompense for these activities. She was a physiotherapist for about 40 years, giving her a good rehabilitation background for working with injured bats. Jenny retired as a physiotherapist in 2005 and has worked full time as a bat conservationist since then.
The Bat Hospital attracts many volunteers and tourists each year; its Visitor Centre has advanced ecotourism accreditation and has been the #1 attraction for the Atherton Tablelands on Trip Advisor for many years. She has run school programs about bats through the Tinaroo Environmental Education Centre since 2002, reaching schools from a wide catchment area north to Cooktown, west to the Gulf and south to Townsville.
The Bat Hospital has membership of Wildlife Tourism Australia, Ecotourism Australia, Wildlife Health Australia and various local tourism bodies. Jenny is the bat carer representative on the national Bat Health committee of Wildlife Health Australia which keeps her in contact with many of Australia's bat researchers.
Jenny joined the committee in March 2019.
Dr David Westcott
Dr. David Westcott joined CSIRO in 1995 after completing a PhD at the University of British Columbia. He currently leads the Ecosystem Function and Prediction Stream in CSIRO’s Healthy Terrestrial Ecosystems at Atherton, and is responsible for a team of scientists and technical staff studying the ecology of tropical rainforests and landscapes.
David’s expertise is vertebrate movement and landscape ecology, conservation biology, behaviour and evolution. His current projects include identification and impact of invasive pests in the Wet Tropics rainforests; cassowary genetics and population monitoring; biodiversity in Wet Tropics floodplains; predicting and managing invasive spread in rainforest habitats and flying fox ecology and management.
David plays a key role in connecting Council, the committee and CSIRO and has been with the committee since it's inception in 2015.
Maree has a long background in delivery of education and interpretation programs on bats with a focus on flying-foxes in Sydney, and is a former bat carer and coordinator with Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society. She is a joint convenor of the Australasian Bat Society’s (ABS) Flying-fox Expert Group and created and coordinated the annual ABS Australasian Bat Night program, a series of local community events run throughout Australasia designed to raise awareness of flying-foxes, including coordinating the Cairns Bat Festival.
Maree holds a Masters of Wildlife Management and her Graduate Diploma was on the "Interactions between Pteropus poliocephalus and habitat within the Ku-ring-gai Flying-fox Reserve, Gordon, Sydney".
Along with being a key member of Council’s Flying-fox Advisory Committee, she is also on the committee of Wildlife Tourism Australia (WTA), is the Queensland State Coordinator for Interpretation Australia and is currently a higher degree candidate at Griffith University studying societal values toward flying-foxes and assessing the efficacy of education/ interpretation programs in influencing attitudes (‘Bat Wars’ – Can flying-fox – human conflict be resolved through education and application of Values Theory?).
Maree has presented to national conferences of Wildlife Tourism Australia (WTA), Australasian Wildlife Management Society, Australasian Bat Society and Interpretation Australia on the subjects of bat tourism, interpretation and flying-fox management.
Maree has been with the committee since it's inception in 2015.
Sera Steves is originally from San Antonio, Texas but has now been living in North Queensland for almost ten years. Sera holds a BSc in Biology and Psychology with a focus on Ethology and is currently working towards her masters in Zoology performing research on blossom bats and crocodiles.
Sera has been in the zoo industry for the past 13 years working in both Australia and the United States as a zookeeper, animal trainer and wildlife presenter. Sera is currently co-authoring a paper in the Journal of Ecotourism on Bats and Tourism and is regularly presenting on the topic at conferences and forums across Australasia.
Her main focus is birds and reptiles but bats have been an interest of hers since she was a child where she grew up with bats in her backyard and a family that loved to facilitate their success.
Sera believes strongly that the most effective conservation efforts, aside from legislative change, are ecotourism opportunities and community engagement which is why she is pleased to be a part of a committee working together for outcomes that benefit everyone.
Sarah joined the committee in March 2017.
Former committee members:
- Cr John Schilling, December 2015 - March 2020
- Cr Ritchie Bates, December 2015 - March 2020
- Cr Greg Fennell, December 2015 - March 2016
- Connie Kerr, December 2015 - March 2017
- Heather Owen, December 2015 - January 2017
- Dr Martin Cohen, December 2015 - January 2018
Former committee members that may return - hidden
Connie Kerr (image: 182071)
Connie was born and grew up on a farm in northern NSW, where she quickly developed a love for animals. Connie spent 15 years working in office administration, developing a strong business background, before becoming involved in wildlife rescue and care in 2000.
Connie now devotes the majority of her time to wildlife care, with her primary love being working with bats. Connie strongly believes that protecting and providing healthy habitat is the cornerstone on which all wildlife depends. Connie looks forward to being able to make a lasting and positive difference to this unique and special environment; for the long-term future and generations to come.
Heather Owen (image: 182072)
Heather has been a wildlife carer for more than ten years, with the last 5 or more years mostly dedicated to bats. Heather is a past secretary and Rescue Centre Manager for FNQ Wildlife Rescue.
Heather works full time but is still involved with bats, as is one of her teenage children, and plays an integral role in caring for and rescuing bats during the busy breeding season.
Heather has worked tirelessly as a liaison between Council and local bat advocates in recent years, retaining good relationships with all involved.