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Case Study: Victorian National Parks Association

ProjectLife After Fire: citizen science monitoring of wildlife in bushfire-affected East Gippsland

Amount$200,000 over three years

Date2021

ProgramEnvironment

TRUST OBJECTIVES PROJECT OBJECTIVES
Rural and regional Victoria Supporting the recovery of bushfire affected communities by engaging the community in species and habitat data monitoring
Building organisational capacity Strengthening partnerships in Gippsland will build the capacity and capability of staff and volunteers, and bolster connections with local science and conservation communities and groups.
Collaboration and partnership Goongerah Environment Centre, Gippsland Environment Group, Environment East Gippsland, East Gippsland Conservation Management Network, Southern Brown Bandicoot Recovery Group, Museums Victoria, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Monitoring the recovery of native wildlife after the fires

Life After Fire, a citizen science wildlife monitoring project, will improve community connections, management actions and wildlife habitat protection in conservation priority areas across bushfire-affected areas of East Gippsland, assisting with the long-term recovery of local communities and the natural environment following the Black Summer bushfires.

Image Setting up a motion-detection camera to monitor wildlife at Cabbage Tree Creek Flora Reserve, East Gippsland. Photo: courtesy Victorian National Parks Association

The Black Summer bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020 in Central and East Gippsland had a devastating impact on communities, habitat and wildlife. For endangered species, it threatened to push them to – or past – the edge of extinction. Wildlife monitoring immediately after large bushfires is critical to determine the impact on wildlife populations and vulnerable species. Supporting communities in the recovery process is also critical, and connecting people with the evidence of recovery in natural areas can assist the healing process.

Snapshot:

  • Victorian National Parks Association will work with community, scientific and land management partners to ensure their research is relevant and valuable to strong conservation outcomes in the region.
  • An estimated 390 volunteers will be trained in a range of scientific methods to capture data to inform how wildlife species and habitat are recovering at bushfire affected sites.
  • This data will be used to inform future conservation planning, community campaigns and raise community engagement and awareness in wildlife conservation.
  • Wildlife and habitat monitoring will include methods such as:
    • Eco-acoustic monitoring song meters (birds, mammals, frogs and bats)
    • Motion-detection cameras (ground dwelling mammals and birds)
    • Spotlighting (aboreal mammals)
    • Scat (faeces) surveys (larger mammals)
    • Photo points (vegetation density/growth).
  • Increased knowledge of post-fire wildlife and habitat recovery will provide essential information on target species to land managers to support management interventions such as cat trapping programs and nest box installation.
  • An HMSTrust Rapid Response grant in June 2020 enabled this bushfire recovery project to be fully scoped and developed, ensuring it was ready for implementation.

vnpa.org.au

"It’s been fantastic to get out into the field with our volunteers to monitor wildlife for the ‘Life After Fire’ project. We are seeing firsthand the impact the fires have had on the environment and the amazing ability of the Australian bush to recover. The partnerships we are making and the data we are collecting will help us understand the impact the unprecedented bushfires had on wildlife in Gippsland and inform recovery efforts." - Dr Sera Blair, NatureWatch Coordinator, Victorian National Parks Association