Following the catastrophic bushfires in summer 2019-2020 the Healing our land campaign was developed by FNPW to support long term bushfire recovery projects across Australia. The Bushfire Recovery Program Plan has been prepared to meet the needs of FNPW, align to the Australian Government’s bushfire recovery plans at either local, state or federal levels, meet the needs of the bushfire impacted communities, and ensure successful outcomes for our current and future donors.
This project was funded through generous donations from FNPW supporters across Australia and beyond.
Bushfires are an annual occurrence in Australia and many ecosystems have come to rely on these occurrences for their continued health. Over the last few decades, fire extent, frequency, and intensity have increased due to warming global temperatures, as well as reduced rainfall and increased interannually variance in weather conditions. However, the intensity of the 2019 – 2020 bushfires saw ecosystems burn that rarely see fire, such as rainforests. The majority of Australia’s bushfires in the southern and eastern parts of the country occur during the summer season when conditions are drier. In 2019, the Forest Fire Danger Index was the highest on record over an extensive area of Australia during spring prior to the traditional summer fire season.
Between June 2019 and February 2020, Australia experienced an unprecedentedly prolonged, extensive and severe season of bushfires. More than 15,000 fires occurred across all states, resulting in a combined total impact area of up to 19 million hectares burnt, of which 12 million hectares contained primary forest and woodland. The large spatial scale of Australia’s bushfires, and frequent reburning of areas have had major impacts on high conservation value areas and biodiversity. It is estimated that more than one billion animals were lost during the Black Summer fires, and 810 priority species and ecological communities are in need of urgent management intervention to prevent species loss.
The FNPW Bushfire Recovery Program is strategic and articulates a framework within which communities, non-government organisation, and government protected area agencies can rebuild and restore their lost natural capital. The bushfire recovery program is intended to provide the frame upon which communities and organisations can start rebuilding their environment. It is not intended to provide continuous long-term support, but to provide support for the Emergency Response and Initial Recovery stages after a bushfire, which will allow the communities to meet the demands of Long-term Recovery.
The Bushfire Recovery Program structure covers four main areas:
This includes our Seedbank Project, the Bushfire Recovery Nurseries, and the Restoration Project.
Restore – lost habitat by replanting native vegetation, and protecting natural regeneration.
Rebuild – rebuild or replace lost nursery assets.
Grow – a healthy and natural environment to enhance ecosystems and services.
Support – local communities to become more resilient.
To ensure the program is authentic in its approach, the four values of FNPW were used as a ‘yard stick’. By coupling the FNPW strategic values with the intervention terms, the following alignments were identified.
Genuine – To work with bushfire impacted communities from a point of genuine empathy and understanding.
Nimble – Have a nimble approach to meeting the unique needs of each community as they enter the recovery cycle.
Clever – Be clever on how we approached bushfire recovery and welcome new and innovative ideas.
Confident – Instill confidence in the communities, governments, and our donors that FNPW is committed to bushfire recovery for the long term.
Goal: Build the capacity of communities to identify their endemic species and secure seed from those plants to ensure the ongoing survival of species post bushfires. Learn more: Seedbanks
Seeds are the corner stone to any revegetation project and vitally important in bushfire restoration. The intensity of the 2019-2020 bushfires saw the destruction and loss of seeds, and seed beds from our forests creating a shortage in supply. This has greatly impacted the availability of local species for restoration works.
Goal: To increase the capacity of community nurseries to meet the needs of bushfire recovery in affected regions. Learn more: Bushfire Recovery Nurseries
Landscape level bushfire recovery requires a large number of quality plants to be available. It also requires plants that are of a specific type, and genetically suitable to the environment that will be their forever home. Supporting local and community nurseries provides a space for people to meet and begin the recovery journey together, while also growing more trees to meet the increased demand.
3: HABITAT RESTORATION
Goal: To restore native vegetation and natural habitats, and support wildlife rehabilitation in areas impacted by bushfires. Learn more: Habitat Restoration
Restoration after a bushfire is all about reinstating the vegetation to secure the soil and allow other species to reinhabit the area. This may be protecting the natural regeneration by fencing to prevent feral predation of new shoots, or by planting new seeds or seedlings in areas adjacent to the burned areas to allow for natural regeneration to occur within the burnscar.
Bushfire restoration work is long-term work
As of 28 October 2020, the Black Summer Bushfires burnt an estimated 24.3–33.8 million hectares (60–84 million acres)
DocuSign attends a Corporate Volunteer Day and over 2,875 native plants are prepared to regenerate bushfire affected areas
Gulliver the koalas’ food source is provided by the Bushfire Recovery Nursery in Lismore, Friends of the Koala
Jutta Hamilton and Martin Gauci from the Hawkesbury Community Nursery are experts in floral biodiversity
They educate and support the regeneration efforts of local land owners, Landcare groups and government
The Hawkesbury Community Nursery, one of 12 FNPW Bushfire Recovery Nurseries
A volunteer getting to work preparing seedlings for planting
The Hawkesbury Community Nursery grows over 150 indigenous native plants, which are then planted in bushfire affected areas
Corey Jackson, the Coastal Conservation Officer at the District Council of Yankalilla, SA
A walk by a living seedbank
Greening Australia Nursery in Canberra is the first Bushfire Recovery Nursery to be set up in the ACT
Ian Darbyshire, FNPW CEO at the Hawkesbury Community Nursery launch event
The Tree Planting Process