In our latest update we focus on the catastrophic bushfires that have burned over 10 million hectares over the last few months. We have all been devastated by the sheer scale and intensity of this event, its impact on our unique flora and fauna, habitat and ecosystems, property and infrastructure, and sadly, the loss of lives. We would like to extend our sympathies to anyone who has been affected by these events and our deep thanks to all who have been working selflessly in response and recovery.
While it will take many weeks for the full scale of the effects to be assessed, we have been working on collating information and resources that may be useful for anyone working on restoration efforts in bushfire-affected regions. You can access the resources and information page here. This is a work in progress. If any NRMs or partner organisations have any relevant information that would be a useful addition to this page, please get in touch with us directly via our social media channels (Facebook or Twitter).
Bushfire impacts in South Australia
Staff from both the National Parks and Wildlife Services division and Natural Resources SAMDB have been helping with firefighting and recovery efforts interstate and within SA. Fires have affected Cudlee Creek, Kangaroo Island, Yorketown and Keilira. There are grave fears for many wildlife populations and rare habitat areas on Kangaroo Island, where over 150,000 ha has burnt. Impacted species include glossy black cockatoos, goannas, dunnarts, echidnas, bandicoots and the green carpenter bee.
Over coming weeks, Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges staff will be present in the community and available to landholders seeking advice or assistance on land management issues such as pasture regeneration, watercourse management, soil rehabilitation, revegetation, weed management, and habitat restoration.
Farm recovery resources
Agriculture Victoria and the Victorian Farmers Federation have a suite of online resources for planning recovery activities on farm properties, including how to build a sediment fence to help protect your farm dam, and other practical advice. For more information, visit: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/emergencies/recovery/farm-and-land-recovery-after-bushfire
Support for NSW landholders from Local Land Services
During this bushfire season, Local Land Services in NSW have been providing crucial advice and support to regional landholders. In coordination with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), NSW LLS established an emergency fodder distribution point to provide emergency fodder in support of animal welfare needs in the critical initial stages of the emergency. They have also waived 2020 LLS rates to provide relief for farmers coping with droughts and bushfires.
Bushfire ash affecting dams
Hunter LLS (NSW) have warned of the risk of ash entering dams as a result of rains after bushfires following a video sent in by a local landholder from Killabakh. Take a look at the video here www.facebook.com/HunterLLS/videos/474551023486928/ and click here to read an NSW Government factsheet on managing stock water following bushfires.
Funding for wildlife recovery in SA
The South Australian Government has joined forces with Nature Foundation SA to launch a special fund to re-establish habitat for wildlife in the state’s bushfire-ravaged regions.
The Wildlife Recovery Fund is a collaborative project between the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA and the not-for-profit Nature Foundation to assist with the recovery and restoration of flora and fauna in fire-damaged regions across South Australia. This is in addition to the dedicated fund for the Glossy Black Cockatoos on KI.
ALA Environment Recovery Project
A citizen scientist project has been launched through the Atlas of Living Australia and they are asking for observations from recently burnt areas. Providing it’s safe to do so, take a walk in areas of burnt bushland, and upload observations to the Environment Recovery Project. For more information, visit: https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/projects/environment-recovery-project-australian-bushfires-2019-2020
The effects of fire on sensitive flora
Much Australian flora has evolved to cope with fire, recovering by re-sprouting or setting seed. However, some plants are sensitive to fire, especially when fires are frequent or intense, and these species need our help to recover.
Read more about this issue at The Conversation: http://bit.ly/31hVgeg
Expert Panel for Wildlife and Threatened Species
Details from the first meeting of the Expert Panel for Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery, held on January 15 and chaired by the Threatened Species Commissioner – Dr Sally Box. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/bushfire-recovery/expert-panel
Bushfire recovery roundtables
The Federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley has hosted two Bushfire Recovery Roundtables. The first with conservation NGOs and wildlife groups on January 15, and the second on January 20, which brought together experts in land management, indigenous cultural burning, bush regeneration, marine ecosystems and farming from across Australia. Commenting on the meetings, Minister Ley stated that ‘collaboration and coordination, together with local partnerships on the ground will be critical as we work hard to restore our ecosystems to good health and help the land and species recover from the fires.’ NRM Regions Australia participated in both roundtables with a regional NRM representative from all States present at the second.
The dark side of post bushfire rains
‘When heavy rainfall eventually extinguishes the flames ravaging south-east Australia, another ecological threat will arise. Sediment, ash and debris washing into our waterways, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin, may decimate aquatic life.‘ A recent article on The Conversation highlights the issues arising when heavy rains follow bushfires. Click here for the link: https://theconversation.com/the-sweet-relief-of-rain-after-bushfires-threatens-disaster-for-our-rivers-129449
Bushfire recovery volunteer efforts
Conservation Volunteers Australia has been selected to coordinate the national environmental volunteering response to the bushfire crisis. Responding will require efforts at a scale that will only be known once affected areas are declared safe, and damage has been assessed. The sheer scale of the fires, the sensitive nature of many of the areas affected, and the numbers of wildlife that are displaced are enormous. CVA will help volunteers to contribute and direct their efforts to recovery actions that will help land, water and wildlife. For more information, head to https://conservationvolunteers.com.au/bushfires/
A message from Perth NRM’s CEO
In this opinion piece, Perth NRM CEO Paul Bodlovich talks about the need for a natural capital accounting and investment framework that incorporates the value of leading NRM practices. Managing our natural resources should not be viewed as a cost, but as an investment. https://www.perthnrm.com/2020/01/climate-change-bush-fires-and-nrm