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Earthwatch Institute

  • Project: Establishing a Community-Led Bushfire Recovery and Resilience Program in East Gippsland
  • Amount: $89,454
  • Year(s) Funded: 2020

A collaborative response to bushfire recovery in East Gippsland

Australia’s unique landscapes and iconic wildlife are treasures not only for Australia, but for the global community who travel to experience it. The 2019-2020 bushfires devastated the ecological and human communities leading to immense loss of species and habitat and the loss of lives and homes, tourism and economic livelihoods. This project will lay the foundations for a larger community-led bushfire recovery and resilience program.

ClimateWatch Trail at Cape Conran, Victoria. This area was devastated by the 2019-2020 bushfires, and will be a key location for this bushfire recovery project. Photo: Earthwatch Institute

“A community-led bushfire recovery program is at its heart about taking action and inspiring hope. Schools want to be involved, and our environment needs it.” Fiona Sutton Wilson, CEO, Earthwatch Institute

Earthwatch aims to build the capacity of bush-fire affected communities within East Gippsland to have ownership of actions that will support their recovery and increase resilience of their unique landscapes for future generations to enjoy.


  • Offering a three-pathway collaborative approach to bushfire recovery and resilience, the project covers environmental conservation, stewardship and science, environmental and community resilience, mental health and enhanced education:
    • Increased scientific data – to address the most critical knowledge and data gaps in bushfire recovery science;
    • Community led action – builds connections between community-led action and national/state bushfire recovery plans; and
    • Enhanced school education – increases school experiential education.
  • Current Earthwatch programs, ClimateWatch and Kids Teaching Kids, will be adapted and implemented to deliver this program.
  • ClimateWatch is a citizen science program, developed to better understand how changes in temperature and rainfall are affecting the seasonal behaviour of Australia’s plants and animals.
  • Kids Teaching Kids is a schools program, promoting positive wellbeing and building resilience in young people.
  • Key project partners and collaborators include: Australian National University; University of Melbourne; Trust for Nature; Parks Victoria; Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning; Sustainability Victoria; and Victorian National Parks Association
  • Citizen science options to support recovery efforts are currently being developed with scientists and land managers.
  • East Gippsland schools involved in the 2020 Kids Teaching Kids conference, have become advocates for future bushfire recovery programs, and will play an integral role in recruiting further schools to become involved.
  • In 2017, HMSTrust funded Stronger Together, a citizen science project that builds capacity in regional communities to understand, monitor and take action to protect Victoria’s biodiversity. Participants used the ClimateWatch app to collect and record data that will be used to help shape the country’s scientific response to climate change. This project achieved excellent results, establishing 11 ClimateWatch trails across Victoria and numerous cross-sectoral partnerships. This bushfire recovery grant will leverage the success of this previous project.