Progress highlights - November 2021

November 2021 Update - Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery

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*
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
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.

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: 18/11/21