The Black Summer bushfires devastated habitats across East Gippsland but local volunteers and communities are rallying together to restore and nurture impacted species.
With financial support from the WIRES Landcare Wildlife Relief and Recovery Grants, Far East Victorian Landcare is coordinating a citizen science project across the region aimed at monitoring the recovery of habitat and the diverse wildlife it supports including platypus, swamp wallabies and brown falcons.
Identifying key sites within each of the 12 impacted communities throughout East Gippsland, initial stage one activities will focus on monitoring and assessment of effected sites. Trail cameras will record both the activity and return of wildlife and simultaneously, the impacts of pest animals on habitat recovery.
“This will enable environmental volunteers and other interested groups, like schools for example, to undertake accurate fixed point photo monitoring of vegetation recovery over time,” explained spokesperson Penny Gray. “Monitoring the recovery of the flora will identify areas and species that are slow to recover or not recovering at all because the fire was too intense. This information will assist the community and potentially agencies in prioritizing areas for on-ground works or other recovery processes.”
Community volunteers will be trained in the use of the cameras and the uploading of data to a fixed point (it is expected this will be a web page which will be developed as part of the project) where results can be shared with the broader community and enhance subsequent stages of the coordinated project.
“The results would develop management plans that aim to improve habitat and wildlife recovery,” Penny added. “It could inform the strategic location of nest boxes, priority weeds and potential re-vegetation or habitat augmentation works that will lead to improved outcomes for wildlife in our bush fire affected ecosystems.”
Facilitated by unprecedented public appeals and donations, the $1million WIRES and Landcare Wildlife Relief and Recovery Grants is providing a crucial lifeline to the essential work of Far East Victorian Landcare other local Landcare environment networks and community groups working to restore bushfire impacted habitat across the country.
WIRES CEO Leanne Taylor said this grants scheme with Landcare Australia is committed to protecting and preserving Australian wildlife, habitat and local communities from the effects of climate change and extreme natural disasters.
Leanne said: “This partnership between Landcare Australia and WIRES is an important step towards the restoration and recovery of Australian wildlife and landscapes deeply scarred by the unparalleled impacts of bushfires and drought.”
Landcare Australia CEO Dr Shane Norrish said the grants program will improve outcomes for wildlife support and associated habitat rehabilitation projects.
Dr Norrish said: “Through partnerships like this, Landcare Australia is getting on with the job of providing funding to local groups quickly and helping to drive and coordinate national bushfire and drought response with targeted high-priority actions, which are delivered on the ground by locals.”