From October to February, seven of our reserves burnt this fire season: Yourka, Qld; Cravens Peak, Qld; Carnarvon, Qld; Charles Darwin, WA; Yantabulla Swamp (owned by South Endeavour Trust), NSW; Burrin Burrin, NSW; and Scottsdale, NSW.
In mid-February I was able to visit Burrin Burrin and Scottsdale. Seeing those reserves and the burnt land around them brought home the scale of the devastation.
On Burrin Burrin, the once ferny valleys have been reduced to sticks and sludge in a landscape that hasn’t seen fire since 1953. On Scottsdale, many important old-growth habitat trees have fallen and, heart breakingly, large areas of our revegetation have been affected.
Yet there were also many signs and stories of recovery – fluorescent epicormic shoots pushing forth from blackened trunks, fresh cubes of wombat scat and the ‘yip yip’ sound of Sugar Gliders at night on Burrin Burrin, as well as the news that many of our Scottsdale seedlings will come back.
It’s important not to glaze over these small wins. They are reminders that there is still much to fight for; that these landscapes will come back.
Our role now – as land managers and custodians of this country – is to help fire-affected species and landscapes to recover as quickly as possible.
We will also be focusing on our unburnt reserves that are in close proximity to burnt areas, such as Brogo in NSW and the Fitz-Stirling reserves in south-west Western Australia, which are acting as refuges for native species that have lost large swathes of habitat.
There are opportunities, too, to be found in the destruction – to research how species and revegetated areas respond to fire, to strengthen our relationships with our neighbours, to target feral predators while they’re easier to spot.
Your support through this time has been truly incredible and it will go a long way to help our recovery process.
Currently, our staff are setting up monitoring cameras, assessing fire severity, mapping the damage and discussing options for recovery. In the next edition of bushtracks, we’ll be updating you on our path forward. But for now, I hope you find comfort in the stories of hope in this newsletter.
Heather Campbell, Chief Executive Officer.