View the impact of the 2019/20 bushfires on different species and the actions underway to support response and recovery 

This Story Map contains examples of a range of actions underway across the sector to support response and recovery.

Impacts on biodiversity

The report, Victoria’s bushfire emergency: Biodiversity response and recovery, assesses the fire extent as of 11 January 2020 and will be updated as more information becomes available.

The 2019/20 Victorian bushfires burnt approximately 1,500,000 hectares across Victoria. The bushfires have impacted threatened species and their unique habitats, including approximately 70% of the remaining Warm Temperate Rainforest in Victoria.

The report assesses the current and projected impact of the Victorian bushfires on over 4400 species. Over 170 of Victoria’s rare or threatened species have had over 50% of their known habitat burnt.

Table 1: Species impacted by the current fire extent

% of modelled habitat in the current fire extent Total species Listed under the EPBC Act*^ Listed under the FFG Act* Listed as Victorian Rare or Threatened species*
Over 95% 1 species 1 species 1 species 1 species
50% or more 17 species 3 species 8 species 11 species
20% or more 87 species 13 species 26 species 35 species
Over 95% 4 species 0 species 1 species 4 species
50% or more 168 species 10 species 18 species 162 species
20% or more 689 species 19 species 48 species 397 species

Bushfire Biodiversity Response & Recovery program

Guided by the impact assessment described in the report, DELWP has worked alongside species experts, academics, and land managers to prioritise actions for fire-affected threatened species and habitats. This forms an overarching, multi-year program of initiatives across four phases:

*           Emergency response actions (while the fire was active)

*           Phase 1: Immediate and short-term actions (up to 1 year)

*           Phase 2: Medium-term action (1-3 years)

*           Phase 3: Longer-term actions (beyond 3 years).

This Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program includes actions funded by the Victorian Government, Australian Government and other sources including public donations. DELWP is working closely with partner agencies, Traditional Owners, and non-government organisations to coordinate and support all actions to help the protection and recovery of Victoria’s flora, fauna, and habitats impacted by the 2019/20 fires.

Bushfire Biodiversity Response & Recovery actions 

Alongside the release of the report in January 2020, the Victorian Government took immediate action to support Victoria’s bushfire impacted wildlife and biodiversity with a $17.5 million funding package to assist Phase 1 of the Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program.

Phase 1 of the program delivers actions across 6 key themes.

Many actions are already underway as we continue to assess fire-affected areas and respond directly to impacted plants and animals.

View the progress of actions under each program theme by exploring the map below

This Story Map outlines some of the actions being delivered across the 6 program themes.

Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery Themes

Phase 1 funding allocation: $1.3M (approx.)

Assessing the specific impacts of the fires on species or locations of concern enables more targeted actions. Theme 1 assesses the status of key plants, animals and ecosystems following the fires to inform management actions. The focus is on species or ecosystems that have had all known populations/locations affected or where the level of impact is not fully known.

Key actions:
  • Ground surveys and Aerial surveys (where appropriate)
  • Surveys following standard scientific methods to ensure comparisons with pre-fire surveys.
  • Provision of artificial habitat features
  • Further risk assessment

Spotted Tree Frog

Image: Spotted Tree Frog (Glen Johnson)

Phase 1 funding allocation: $1.0M (approx.)

Responding to the welfare of wildlife injured during fire is a critical element of the Victorian Government’s fire response procedures. There is also significant community concern for wildlife during fire events. Theme 2 builds on existing arrangements and seeks to closer engage with community on wildlife response during fires. This includes identifying improved coordination and communication with wildlife carers and advocacy groups.

Key actions:
  • Working with key wildlife welfare organisations around improved engagement
  • Development of targeted training programs for veterinarians on wildlife assessment, burns treatment and triage
  • Undertaking a post-rehabilitation study to track released koalas / that were taken into care following the fires
  • Development of electronic recording system for the collection of wildlife assessment and triage data.

Koala translocation image

Image: Koala assessment, Marcia Reiderer

Phase 1 funding allocation: $1.1M (approx.)

The effects of the fires can impact the ability of some threatened species to persist in their natural environment. Theme 3 prioritises options for the emergency extraction of these species at risk of extinction or further decline. The aim is to collect critically threatened fauna species and keep them in temporary care or at an alternative wild location, as well as collecting threatened flora seeds and cuttings for propagation, until the species can be returned to the wild.

Key actions:
  • Emergency extraction and temporary housing or translocation of critical fauna (e.g. fish and aquatic invertebrates, Eastern Bristle Bird), and
  • Collection of seed/plant material and ex-situ propagation for key plant species.

Bristlebird extraction

Image: Bristlebird extraction, Darryl Whitaker

Phase 1 funding allocation: $7.0M (approx.)

Wildlife and habitats affected by fires are more vulnerable to introduced pest plants and animals. Some pests can thrive in a post-fire landscape, increasing their impact on an environment that is already compromised. Theme 4 delivers an integrated and coordinated program focused on introduced herbivore and predator control, and weed control, to reduce the heightened risks in burnt and adjacent areas.

Key actions:
  • Aerial shooting of introduced pest animals on public land
  • Targeted ground control of introduced pest animals
  • Targeted weed control

Feral pigs

Image: Feral pigs wallowing (ScoutGuard)

Phase 1 funding allocation: $2.0M (approx.) for maximising resilience across the landscape and $1.75M (approx.) for reading and healing Country

The recovery of species affected by the fires will benefit from actions both within and beyond the 2019-20 fire area. Theme 5 focuses on maximising the long-term state-wide resilience of species and their habitats across the landscape, with emphasis on species of greatest concern after the fires. Actions may include intensive management of species populations, genetic mixing, translocations, and the creation of a network of safe havens (ecological refuges).

This theme will also Heal Country through reading Country. It will enable Traditional Owners to apply ecological knowledge and lead the coordination of cultural heritage and related activities in the fire affected areas.

Phase 1 funding allocation: $1.8M (approx.)

Theme 6 will improve our knowledge of expected biodiversity outcomes from post-fire management of threats and will improve preparedness for protecting biodiversity during future fire events. This will include identifying priority options across Victorian landscapes to reduce the risks to biodiversity in the event of future fires. 

Key actions:
    • Developing strategic guidance to prioritise direct interventions in species populations (e.g. to address genetic risk),
    • Better targeting of research & monitoring of management effectiveness,
    • Continuous improvement of biodiversity information & decision-support tools, and
    • Developing systems to improve data flow across agencies and to the public.
Phase 1 funding allocation: $1.5M (approx.)

This covers coordination and support across partners, as well as communications, engagement and program administration across the 6 themes.

Preliminary impacts report summary - accessible version

Preliminary impacts report - accessible version

Koala in tree

How you can help

Learn more about how you can act for nature after fires and ensure Victoria’s biodiversity is healthy, valued and actively cared for in line with Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037.

Donate to the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund. 100% of funds raised will be used to support the recovery of bushfire affected wildlife and their habitats.

Page last updated: 30/06/20