Progress highlights

Infographic describing progress of the Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program as of 2022

Key achievements from the 261 program activities and examples of how our actions are protecting threatened and important species.

Click on the drop-down menu below to find more information on recent program highlights.

Macquarie Perch

Returning Macquarie Perch

Macquarie Perch translocated to improve genetic diversity in areas where fire had severe effects on remaining populations.

Woody weed control underway in key habitat areas will further help the recovery of this species.

Videos:

Spotted Tree Frog

Spotted Tree Frog captive breeding program

Post fire surveys indicated that key populations were reduced.

Captive breeding program established at Zoos Victoria to help bolster wild populations and prevent extinction.

Videos:

Broad Toothed Rat

Protecting Broad-toothed Rats

Ongoing landscape-scale actions including introduced herbivore and predator control implemented across species distribution.

Investigations into technology and scientific innovation to help bring this species back from the brink.

Glossy Black Cockatoo

Monitoring Glossy Black-cockatoos

Mapping and protection of surviving Black She-oak trees, their only food source, to help them recover.

Citizen science project to record sightings through Birdlife Australia’s Great Glossy Count

Video:

Eastern Bristlebird

Rescuing Eastern Bristlebirds

Small insurance population evacuated as fire approached the last remaining population in Victoria.

Housed by Zoos Victoria and returned in 2020.

Artificial Intelligence developed to identify Eastern Bristlebird calls to help track populations.

Planning underway to translocate birds to secure a second population in Victoria.

Videos:

Long footed Potoroo

Protecting Long-footed Potoroos

The Southern Ark and Barry Mountains fox control programs have expanded to deliver an additional 207,000 hectares of control, providing greater protection to Long-footed Potoroo populations from the threat of fox predation.

New sightings outside their known range are a sign of hope for their recovery.

Videos:

Spot Tailed Quoll

Protecting Spot-tailed Quolls

Ongoing landscape-scale actions to support recovery, including control of introduced herbivores and predators across their range. 

Investigations into species translocation and scientific innovation to bolster Victorian populations.

Aquatic species rescue

Rescuing aquatic species

11 threatened aquatic species evacuated from fire affected areas where ash and sedimentation were an ongoing threat to water quality.

More than 600 individual animals safely housed in aquaria at the Arthur Rylah Institute for environmental research and returned later in 2020.

Videos:

Rare plant rescue

Rescuing rare plants

108 threatened plants species located and 105 collected and stored in the Victorian Conservation Seed Bank or living collection as insurance in the event of future environmental disaster.

Videos:

Technology and innovation for emergency response

Technology and innovation to protect threatened plants and fungi

New technology acquired at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria to:

  • Store propagation material for fungi and ferns – an Australian first

  • X-ray and study seeds and their germination requirements.

Video:

Plant and animal surveys

Surveying plant and animal populations

Specialist Rapid Risk Assessment teams deployed immediately post fire to inform emergency recovery actions.

Since 2020, more than 160 species of concern assessed in the field across more than 740 sites, to help inform medium- and long-term recovery actions.

Video:

Exclusion fence

Building exclusion fencing

31 hectares of exclusion fencing constructed, enabling the successful recovery of threatened and important species such as the Shelley Leek Orchid - found nowhere else in the world.

Video:

herbivore control

Controlling introduced herbivores

Large-scale control program targeting deer, feral pigs and feral goats to protect threatened plants and animals at-risk from the impacts of grazing, trampling and wallowing.

Sustained control is expected to benefit more than 690 native plant and animal species including the threatened Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Alpine She-oak Skink, Eastern Bristlebird, Betka Bottlebrush and Snowy River Westringia.

Coordinated and integrated management over 565,000 hectares to reduce introduced herbivore numbers in areas of high biodiversity value.

Key management actions include:

  • Victorian aerial shooting program
  • Victoria’s largest ever coordinated on-ground shooting program
  • Landscape scale baiting and trapping of feral pigs
  • Exclusion fencing to protect critical habitats from introduced herbivores
Predator Control

Controlling introduced predators

Landscape-scale fox control to reduce the impact of predation and competition on threatened species recovering from fire.

Management of more than 207,000 hectares of high priority habitats with a particular focus on the protection of critical weight range mammals such as the Long-footed Potoroo, Long-nosed Potoroo, Spot-tailed Quoll, Southern-brown Bandicoot, Long-nosed Bandicoot and Brush-tailed Rock
Wallaby.

Key predator control activities include:

  • Expansion of the Southern Ark fox baiting program across East Gippsland
  • Expansion of the Barry Mountains fox baiting program in North-East Victoria
  • Establishment of fox baiting within Lake Tyers State Park and Alpine National Park (East Alps).
  • Feral cat management program within East Gippsland and the Victorian Alps to address critical knowledge gaps and increase management effectiveness for feral cat control.

Weed Control

Controlling weeds

The risk of weed invasion increases dramatically after fires, leading to new or more severe infestations that reduce the ability for native plants and animals to recover.

Management of more than 17,000 hectares in high priority habitats to protect threatened plants and important plant communities such as Alpine Bogs and Coastal Rainforest Areas.

Key projects include:

  • Control of the high-threat Ox-eye Daisy within the Victorian Alps to stop widespread establishment and spread
  • Development of a 5-year strategy to control high threat weeds across East Gippsland as part of the Far East Eden
  • Updating weed control models within DELWPs conservation planning tool Strategic Management Prospects (SMP) for improved biodiversity outcomes.
Protecting World Heritage Sites

Protecting a World Heritage site

An integrated invasive species control program is being delivered across the Budj Bim World Heritage Landscape to protect important environmental and cultural values such as Manna gum trees and the extensive 6,600 year old aquaculture system.

Strong partnerships with Traditional Owners and stakeholder engagement are integral to ensuring the program’s success.

Heal Country

Healing Country

Empowering 10 Traditional Owner groups in fire affected areas to heal Country through self-determination.

Spirit and threat management officer roles funded across the state.

“We’re out taking the lead, getting to know the Country” - provided quote

Video:

People Power

People power

Participation of approximately 1,357 volunteers who provided over 5,500 hours to delivery of the program.

Wildlife Emergency Support Network

Wildlife Emergency Support Network and Sector Liaison

Appointed the Wildlife Welfare Sector Liaisons and established the Wildlife Emergency Support Network.

Video:

Koala

Together for wildlife

Wildlife Welfare Communications Group: DELWP, Zoos Victoria, Wildlife Victoria, Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), University of Melbourne, RSPCA Victoria and the Conservation Regulator are “Together for Wildlife” producing and sharing
joint communications messaging about wildlife welfare.

Technology for emergency response

Technology and innovation for emergency response

Fire impacts modelled for 4200 species to help determine where to focus our recovery actions.

Biodiversity risk dataset developed to help inform emergency management.

Technology

Technology and innovation to protect threatened animals

Expert scientists at Museums Victoria are investigating the capacity for frozen storage of reproductive material from threatened species in Victoria.

The Smithsonian’s Cryo-initiative is an international example of this technology in practice.

Veterinary training

Building Veterinary Capacity

Training program for veterinary staff in wildlife triage units, regional veterinary outreach program.

Wildlife emergency reporting tool

Online Wildlife Emergency Reporting Tool

Allows members of the public to report injured wildlife to DELWP during fire events. Recording system for DELWP response teams.

Nature led community recovery

Nature led community recovery

Community events held for fire affected communities across the state, featuring presentations and tours by expert bushfire and biodiversity scientists.

Videos:

(Coming soon)

Impacts on biodiversity - report

The report, Victoria’s bushfire emergency: Biodiversity response and recovery (PDF, 5.7 MB), assessed the fire extent as of 20 April 2020.

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 78% of the remaining Warm Temperate Rainforest in Victoria.

The report assessed the impact of the Victorian bushfires on over 4400 species. It found that 244 species of plants and animals had at least 50% of their likely statewide habitat burnt, 215 of which are rare or threatened species.

Table 1: Species impacted by the 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*
Fauna
Over 95% 3 species 0 species 3 species 3 species
50% or more 17 species 2 species 9 species 12 species
10% or more 167 species 4 species 26 species 33 species
Flora
Over 95% 13 species 0 species 1 species 13 species
50% or more 211 species 2 species 23 species 187 species
10% or more 1,168 species 11 species 40 species 328 species

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.

Bushfire Biodiversity Response and 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 and Recovery actions

The Victorian Government is providing $54.5 million for the Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program to support Victoria’s bushfire impacted wildlife and biodiversity. This is supported by $15 million from the Commonwealth Government’s Bushfire Recovery package for wildlife and their habitat. The Victorian government has also contributed $7.7 million to re-seed Alpine and Mountain Ash Forests as part of the broader bushfire recovery program.

The Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program delivers actions across a range of themes and focus areas.

Many actions are 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

Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery Program - themes and focus areas

Funding allocation: $2.1M (approx.)

Assessing the specific impacts of the fires on species or locations of concern enables more targeted actions. This theme 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)

Funding allocation: $1.5M (approx.)

The effects of the fires can impact the ability of some threatened species to persist in their natural environment. This theme 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)
  • Collection of seed/plant material and ex-situ propagation for key plant species.

Bristlebird extraction

Image: Bristlebird extraction (Darryl Whitaker)

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. This theme 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 an electronic recording system for the collection of wildlife assessment and triage data

Koala translocation image

Image: Koala assessment (Marcia Reiderer)

Funding allocation: $25.0M (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. This theme 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)

For more information on the threat management program, visit the Managing invasive species after fire webpage

Funding allocation: $2.1M (approx.)

This theme will 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.

Funding allocation: $19.5M (approx.)

The recovery of species affected by the fires will benefit from actions both within and beyond the 2019-20 fire area. This theme focuses on maximising the long-term statewide resilience of species and their habitats across the landscape, with emphasis on species of greatest concern after the fires.

Key actions:

  • Create and support a safe haven network of ecological refuges across the state
  • Revegetation and reseeding
  • Spread the risk to a species from future disturbance events by establishing a new population
  • Spread the risk to a species from population failures through genetic mixing to improve the fitness of populations and manage threats
  • Applying a cultural landscape lens to species renewal and resilience– using cultural knowledge and practices

Funding allocation: $1.8M (approx.)

This theme 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 includes 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 and monitoring of management effectiveness,
  • Continuous improvement of biodiversity information and decision-support tools
  • Developing systems to improve data flow across agencies and to the public

Funding allocation: $0.1M (approx.)

Connecting with nature has benefits for people and for biodiversity. The aim of this theme is to enable social, economic, and environmental recovery of fire-impacted communities, led by nature. It will support people's recovery from the fires by facilitating their engagement in activities to assist the recovery of nature.

Fire-impacted communities will be supported to learn about how nature is responding, and to design and deliver projects that benefit local plants, wildlife and habitats. Participating in these projects, witnessing natural recovery, and gaining a sense of hope and agency, can actively support recovery of fire affected communities.

Key Actions:

  • Providing grants to support community-led, place-based, small projects
  • Providing access to scientist/expertise to assist understanding and opportunity
  • Supporting meaningful citizen science and volunteering projects
  • Encouraging people to notice nature recovery
  • Sharing stories of recovery

Funding allocation: $1.5M (approx.)

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

This evaluation assessed the design, delivery and impact of the Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery Program activities delivered under the three initial funding packages that concluded on 30 June 2021:

  • Wildlife and biodiversity package (State Government) – $17.5 million
  • Manage immediate threats of pests and predators for species survival (State Government) – $5 million
  • Bushfire recovery package for wildlife and their habitat (Australian Government) – $3 million.

The evaluation report draws on both quantitative and qualitative data to demonstrate the impacts of these three packages of work and inform future programs. The findings and conclusions are outlined below.

RecommendationResponse
The long-term goals or outcomes of the program were sound and should be used as the starting point for similar future programs. Accepted
The themes should be retained as the framework for future similar event responses. Accepted
Retain the role of theme leads (or co-leads) managing planning and regional coordinators managing delivery of on-ground actions of the program. Accepted
Continue the outcome focus of the programwith explicit adaptive management provisions – Allowing adjustments to approach while still delivering outcomes. Accepted
Provide greater consideration to practical limitations of the circumstances of the fire and the pressures on the staff involved when setting program delivery timeframes rather than being driven by financial year deadlines. Accepted
Recognise that programs of this scale and complexity will have natural phases – e.g., a ‘ramp-up’ phase, operation phase and maintenance (or BAU) phase. These phases can also be significantly influenced by seasons (i.e., some actions can only be delivered at certain
times of year). These administrative and natural factors should be built into delivery planning to ensure resources and demands on staff are well managed.
Already implemented - Nested timeframes for planning and delivery phases were reflected in program planning, design and delivery from the outset. (Link report)
Continue to foster collaborations during program delivery and highlight any volunteer contributions or co-investments from partners and stakeholders. Accepted
Transition invasive species control into long-term maintenance program to ensure the significant progress is preserved. Accepted in principle – Funding dependent
Continue monitoring the impact of the on-ground actions to identify whether the 'Beyond program' biodiversity outcomes do occur, particularly:
  • Reduced likelihood of extinction of threatened species and ecological communities
  • Survival and recovery of threatened species is maximised
  • Increased habitat protection and recovery
Accepted in principle - Funding dependent

- To be addressed in coordination with VAGO Biodiversity 2037 and parliamentary inquiry responses.
Continue support and maintenance of insurance populations of threatened flora species held by the Royal Botanic Gardens (including the propagation program) Accepted in principle – Funding dependent
Continue to support partnerships created through this program by incorporating on-going contact between collaborators into existing forums or professional gatherings (e.g., DELWP Biodiversity Managers could be altered to include other organisations) Accepted
Identify possible landscape-scale fire events that would have major biodiversity impacts as part of state-wide strategic bushfire management planning (and associated modelling). Use this information to identify areas where contingency plans for such events should be prepared. Accepted – to be addressed through ecological refuge modelling.
Identify other species at risk of extinction from single events (bushfires, floods, storm events, heatwaves) and prepare plans for the actions that may be required (e.g., emergency extraction) should those occur. Accepted – underway through maximising resilience projects.

Biodiversity bushfire impacts summary - accessible version

Biodiversity bushfire 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: 07/05/22