The 2019/20 bushfires have had a significant impact on threatened species of wildlife and their unique habitats. In April 2020, DELWP produced a report, Victoria’s bushfire emergency: biodiversity response and recovery, which assessed the impact of the fire on over 4400 species. The report found that 244 species of plants and animals had at least 50% of their state-wide habitat burnt, with 215 of these being rare or threatened species.

Species of most immediate concern include:

Diamond python – photo: DELWP Gippsland

Some species such as the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby and Guthega skink were not as impacted as first thought, as the fire did not reach key populations. Other species appear to be showing resilience to the fires, such as the Yellow-bellied Water Skink.

What is happening to help wildlife recover in Gippsland?

An immediate response process for wildlife recovery was put in place by DELWP as the lead agency for wildlife. The response involved:

  • Assessment of impacted communities and species
  • Extraction and captive retention until safe release of key threatened species including the Eastern Bristlebird and Freshwater Galaxis
  • Immediate wildlife welfare measures for wounded and at-risk animals

The focus in the medium to long term has shifted to:

  • Intensified and sustained management of threats, for example control of herbivores such as goats, deer and rabbits, and control of feral predators such as foxes and cats
  • Maximising the long-term resilience of key populations through translocations and captive breeding programs and managing key areas of habitat outside the fire extent
  • Enhancing traditional owner connection to country through actions to reset and heal country
  • Improving preparedness to reduce the risk to biodiversity from future fires

Feature: Spycam shows animals return

Southern Ark is a long running program in East Gippsland to monitor threatened populations of species and their threat from predators such as foxes. The program has established camera monitoring stations and extensive data on the presence of native animals in the landscape before the fire. At the end of the summer, the program re-established its cameras and has identified encouraging signs of returning and emerging animals in the forest.

So far in comparing camera data pre and post fire:

  • Long footed potoroos have been photographed in 57% of the pre fire monitoring sites
  • Superb Lyrebirds have been found in 42% of pre fire sites
  • Mountain and Common brushtail possums in 82% of sites
  • Wombats and Swamp wallabies in 47%

As well as the above, cameras have detected long nosed bandicoots, lace monitors, bush rats, antechinus and ringtail possums. If you want to know more about this program visit the following website https://www.delwp.vic.gov.au/ourpeopletheirstories/stories/not-all-is-lost

In other good news,

  • the habitat of the eastern bristlebirds survived the fires and the extracted birds have now been relocated back to Cape Howe
  • the rock wallaby colonies habitat was not impacted and numbers of rock wallabies at last survey have increased
  • Freshwater galaxis are planned to be released back into waterways in the fire impacted areas
Lace monitor – Photo: DELWP Gippsland

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or information you want to share about our recreation sites please contact – cbushfire@gmail.com

In addition you can find up to date information on threatened species and bushfire impacts here

Useful documents and links

PV webpage

DELWP webpage

Biodiversity story map

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