The overwhelming devastation of the 2019 /2020 fire season is hard to fathom. Over 5.2 million hectares of NSW was impacted by fire. With so many families, communities and natural areas affected, the damage will be felt for decades to come.
More than a third of our national parks and reserves in NSW were burnt. Conservative figures place the loss of native animals at well over one billion Australia-wide. Many conservation reserves are changed beyond recognition with large areas of critical wildlife habitat lost.
In the aftermath of the bushfires, NPA has been advocating for scientific, evidence based solutions that will benefit nature and communities through submissions to the Bushfire Inquiries. We are greatly concerned that unproven hazard reduction techniques, such as logging and grazing in native forests, will cause irreparable damage to our conservation reserves.
NPA’s Regrow Rewild projects
We have been busy in the planning stages of Regrow Rewild.
The main objectives of the project will be to examine a statewide selection of fire refugia to document the extent to which they are functioning as ‘biodiversity arks’. These sites are important as they offer the best hope for the survival of the many species that have been pushed to the edge of extinction by the 2019/20 bushfires.
Project sites will be in bushfire affected areas across the NSW protected area network. More than a third of that network and around two thirds of the reserves between the coast and Great Dividing Range were impacted by the fires.
We plan to collaborate extensively with our branches to determine project sites across the state, bringing together advice from the ‘Wildlife and threatened species bushfire recovery Expert Panel’ on post-fire priority species and the deep local knowledge of our branch members.
We will conduct on ground assessments of sites, and through vegetation and fauna surveys we will monitor both native and weed/pest species that threaten the recovery process to inform management efforts in these areas.
Our survey methods are being carefully selected to ensure that they’re amenable to accurate identification and quantification by citizen scientists. The data collected by our members and volunteers will be made available to the research community through citizen science databases.
This will offer practical measures for our members and their communities to mitigate the environmental damage inflicted by the fires, drawing upon our citizen science capabilities to survey sites, habitats and species placed at risk by the fires.
The next step of the project is collaborating with branches to determine project sites – in time for the progressive reopening of the state’s national parks after bushfire threats and the loosening of public gathering restrictions.