News Corp Australia partners with Landcare Australia to support on ground bushfire recovery projects

News Corp Australia has partnered with Landcare Australia to make a significant $300,000 bushfire recovery donation to support two Landcare projects in Victoria and Queensland.

These donations form part of News Corp Australia’s ongoing support for communities, individuals and wildlife affected by the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires.  In the midst of the January bushfires, News Corp’s global headquarters announced a $5 million contribution to Australian bushfire relief, to assist in the immediate response and ongoing investment in rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of those most affected.

Rupert Murdoch said in January: “As a company with roots in Australia and an abiding commitment to its people and communities, we are determined to help, both in this time of great need, and well into the future, as the hard work of restoration continues”.

News Corp Australia’s Community Ambassador, Penny Fowler, said investing in rural and regional recovery will continue to be a priority.

“We are pleased to continue our support of rural and regional Australia, in particular, bushfire-affected areas in Queensland and Tasmania who have been through one of the toughest years on record.

We are also delighted to support Landcare Australia who has been on the ground working with communities for 30 years. These projects will go a long way towards restoring habitats and assisting in the mental wellness of communities still struggling with the events of the year.”

In the aftermath of the November 2019 bushfires in Livingstone Shire in Central Queensland, Capricornia Catchments helped to bring everyone together to discuss what it was going to take to assist the community recover. It was agreed that they needed on-ground action to ensure that landholders were better equipped for the future, and to take care of the wellbeing of the community as well as the land.

Funding from News Corp via Landcare Australia will support landholders with on-ground property recovery and preparedness such as property planning, emergency access to escape routes and water sources, as well as best-practice erosion control measures on fire trails and burnt areas. The project will also involve revegetation and restoration of the environment, including the creation of wildlife corridors to enhance habitat.

The project will engage with GenYadaba, a group made up of local youth including young Indigenous people to conduct revegetation, as well as wildlife monitoring using cameras and traps within the burnt areas. Through this project, young people in the community will have the opportunity to work together to learn about the animals that rely on the habitat they will be restoring, and learn new skills in the process, like native plant identification and weed management.

The community are creating a multimedia project that will capture a wide range of stories, ranging from the courage of fire fighters and local landholders, their tragedies, losses and near misses, through to the impacts fire has had on wildlife carers who were inundated with injured animals. Importantly, this coming together will help create a more resilient community and environment for future generations. This collective storytelling will be a celebration of the community, and how they have managed to come though such an enormous challenge.

Shelly McArdle, Capricornia Catchments Project Officer and Board Member of Queensland Water and Land Carers says what is exciting about this project is that it will have a component of wellbeing.

“This is such an important part of disaster recovery because we cannot expect people who have suffered so many challenges to be strong enough to do what needs to be done to recover in a practical sense. Recovery needs to be twofold, we need to be developing initiatives that take care of both people and place. This is how we will connect, strengthen and heal people and the environment together.”

Support from News Corp via Landcare Australia will also provide Landcare networks operating in East Gippsland to work together with their local Landcare groups and private landowners within fire impacted areas in the region. The project will provide an opportunity for the Landcare networks to set aside areas as habitat, shelter, breeding sites or feeding areas (such as shelterbelts and windbreaks) for endangered species. These areas will be improved to try and restore essential ecological functions which support a variety of threatened wildlife including Glossy Black-Cockatoos, Koalas, gliders and possums. The Black Summer fire season has shown how vulnerable many of our iconic species and their habitat are. For example, the Glossy Black-cockatoo (GBC) Calyptorhynchus lathami, saw around 70% of its Victorian habitat burnt.

The bushfire recovery project in East Gippsland will also have a focus on Citizen Science projects and coordinate volunteer support for fencing, planting, and monitoring, including encouraging local school students to participate in the recovery effort. A recent survey has revealed that many people are concerned about the plight of our wildlife after the Black Summer bushfires, and bringing communities together to support wildlife will lead to improved physical and emotional wellbeing by supporting active recovery. This project will also enable local groups to support each other as well as bring people in from outside the region. Landcare groups not impacted by fire have also shown a lot of interest in supporting the communities who were impacted.

Landcare Australia CEO, Dr Shane Norrish says that the partnership with News Corp will enable quality, on-ground projects with multiple partners who are involved in the bushfire recovery, led by the locals who need it most.

“We are currently working with partners, including News Corp, to empower Landcare groups and other environmental community groups in drought and bushfire affected areas. Their support is helping to rebuild communities with on-ground projects, including habitat restoration, wellbeing and mental health activities, as well as engaging new volunteers who want to contribute. This Landcare Week August 3 to 9, we thank the thousands of people and communities for their ongoing contribution to care for the land in their patch of Australia. Landcare in Australia is now more important than ever to the future of our land, water and people.”

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