To provide a science-informed response to the devastating 2019-2020 bushfires that optimises wildlife and landscape recovery, the Great Eastern Ranges is supporting a large-scale, cross-tenure research effort.
Led by Griffith University and the Australian National University, this multi-landscape project is working to map and assess the fire footprint and post-fire condition and recovery of eastern and south-western Australia’s forests using satellite data in combination with on-ground community science surveys.
The significant research effort is a response to the urgent need to:
- Protect and recover native plants and wildlife impacted by the fires.
- Strengthen the natural adaptative capacity and resilience of our landscapes.
- Protect and restore critical ecosystem services such as long-term, stable carbon storage and water quality and flows.
Who is involved?
Key researchers from Griffith University and Australian National University are being supported by volunteer hubs in the Great Eastern Ranges and Gondwana Link landscapes. Community volunteers across these landscapes are being trained as citizen scientists to assist with the collection of crucial data on forest regeneration, habitat and wildlife using a smartphone app. Information is also being collected to explore the relationship between fire intensity and impact relative to land use and management.
Fire mapping pilot studies
Through our partnership with WWF-Australia, fieldwork and mapping pilot studies are being supported in three priority landscapes in the Great Eastern Ranges – the Greater Blue Mountains, NSW South Coast and Illawarra to Shoalhaven – as part of the broader research effort.
These pilot studies form part of GER’s phased bushfire response which is working to ensure the long-term restoration, resilience and connectivity of our land, wildlife and communities. Post-fire arboreal mammal and bird surveys that are being conducted by our partners in priority locations across the ranges will contribute valuable additional data to the bushfire mapping effort.
The information that is collected will provide the basis for developing forest recovery plans and actions to improve conservation management, encourage natural regeneration and restoration, inform forest management and improve the ability of our forest ecosystems to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. This includes informing the development of specific wildlife recovery plans with separate funding already being sought by GER to assist koalas and grey-headed flying foxes.
Informing future forest management
Another major aim of the project is to support bushfire recovery efforts and future forest management through the sharing of key research findings and resources. This includes the development of a series of fact sheets and reports synthesising the current scientific understanding on forests, fire, climate and management. These are available for viewing, along with the research data that are being collected, at www.bushfirefacts.org