AUSTRALIA – Five new projects will be rolled out to support the recovery of bushfire affected wildlife and habitat including seed collecting and vegetation surveys to help prevent plant extinction.
Extensive damage at he Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mt Tomah during last summer’s bushfires.
More than $1.1 million under the second round of the government’s wildlife and habitat bushfire recovery program will focus on conducting fieldwork surveys to assess the impact of the bushfires on threatened species, while seed collecting and vegetation surveys will help prevent extinction and limit the decline of priority plants.
Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, said the government was focused on the park’s recovery.
“With essential COVID-19 restrictions easing, these expert-led environmental programs represent a surge in on-the-ground recovery actions,” Senator Payne said.
“Delivering this second round of funding is part of the government’s ongoing commitment to protecting priority species, like the Broad-Tailed Gecko, to informing future fire management strategies and to shoring up the long-term resilience of the park.”
In addition to the new funding, local co-design workshops for the Greater Blue Mountains and World Heritage Area are underway, with land managers, traditional owners, scientists and other relevant community stakeholders working together to identify further region-specific activities.
Dr John Merson, executive director of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, and Professor Belinda Medlyn, from Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment attended co-design sessions.
In August two other projects were funded to restore the habitat of the endangered Blue Mountains Water Skink, the important Temperate Highland Peat Swamps which play a role in the filtration of water around bushland, and to protect and conserve nine priority frog species.
The new projects are:
Wildfire impact on threatened reptiles: Project will conduct surveys of reptiles in bushfire affected sandstone landscapes of the Sydney region to provide data for conservation managers on the effects of wildfire and other threatening processes on priority listed reptiles. This is in multiple locations including Yengo and Blue Mountains National Parks. University of New South Wales and UTS, Sydney. Cost: $244,798
Banking on seeds for bushfire recovery – Insuring against future loss. Seed collecting, surveys, germination trials, propagation, reintroductions and long-term seed banking will help prevent extinction and limit the decline of 21 priority plants and four Threatened Ecological Communities. Multiple locations nationally, including Yengo National Park. Australian Seed Bank Partnership and Australian Network for Plant Conservation Cost: $155,276
Bushfire Recovery: Endangered Dry Sclerophyll Woodlands, Sydney Basin Bioregion: Project will assess impacts and facilitate recovery from bushfires of Threatened Ecological Communities on the Cumberland Plain, using remote sensing and on-ground surveys. Seed collection will target threatened species. New knowledge will inform future managed burns. NSW (Western Sydney, including Windsor Downs Nature Reserve).Western Sydney University, Partners: Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council, Greater Sydney Local Land Services, University of New South Wales, and NSW Government agencies. Part of the seeds in the southern part of the Blue Mountains National Park Cost: $268,068
Impact of megafires on priority land snail species in south-eastern Australia: Targeted field surveys on 18 species of land snails listed as priority invertebrates to determine the impact of the 2019-20 fire on these species and inform future management. in parts of Lower Blue Mountains and into Wollemi NSW, VIC and ACT, La Trobe University with Museum Victoria, Australian Museum, NSW and VIC Government agencies. Cost: $342,323
Recovery and resilience of Green Carpenter Bee populations: The bee will be supported by on-ground works on Kangaroo Island, including installation of artificial nest sites. The project will also identify remaining populations in NSW and explore areas with suitable habitat throughout south-eastern Australia. SA (Kangaroo Island), VIC (Grampians), NSW (multiple locations including Blue Mountains National Park). Remko Leijs, Ecosystem and Biological Services, Partner: KI Men’s Shed Cost: $111,194.
Environment Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the government was getting on with delivering its $200 million bushfire recovery package.
“While much of the national focus has understandably been on iconic wildlife, it is important not to forget about all our native species that were affected by the fires.”
In February, Senator Payne organised a roundtable at the Institute for key environmental, government and community stakeholders from across the Mountains and Hawkesbury to provide their feedback to Minister Ley and the chair of the Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Panel, Dr Sally Box.