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A Year After Australia’s Wildfires

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

[Source: Machemer, Theresa. “Greenery Is Sprouting from Scorched Tree Trunks as the Forests Regrow Their Canopies .” Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Mar. 2020]

From July 2019 to March 2020, Australia experienced an extraordinarily intense wildfire season. The wildfires burnt over 17 million hectares of land and displaced 64, 579 humans, 143 million other mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds, and 51 million frogs.

The final wildfires were extinguished on March 4, 2020. A year afterwards, there is still a lot of recovering to do, but some progress has been made.

As of today, $200 million AUD has been allocated to bushfire recovery by the Australian government. $50 million was allocated to the initial bushfire response, $110 million to frontline support for the most impacted native species, $28 million for further scientific research and programs such as population monitoring and species conservation planning, and $12 million in grants to support both on-site wildfire recovery activities and knowledge exchange on Indigenous land and fire management.

Between February - May 2021, $14 million was given to Landcare Australia for recovery projects across seven heavily-impacted bushfire regions, $10 million to multiregional species support projects, $10 million to community grants to support recovery projects, $6.3 million to captive breeding and similar projects, and $2 million contracted to Indigenous land and fire management knowledge projects.

To carry out these projects, the Australian government is working with local communities and local, state, and regional governments, wildlife caretakers, zoos, Indigenous communities, universities, and natural resource management and conservation groups.

One of these projects is the New South Wales Alpine Ash restoration project, in which teams assess the recovery of the Alpine Ash tree and the probability of long-term recovery. Over 10,000 Alpine Ash seeds have been recovered to ensure genetic variety when on-site restoration begins. Another is the Kangaroo Island project, assessing the wildfires’ impact on 13 priority-listed invertebrates living on Kangaroo Island. Throughout this project, the survival of the Marauding Katydid and the Robust Fan-winged Katydid on Kangaroo Island have been discovered, which inspires hope for the perseverance of invertebrates all across Kangaroo Island. A third project involves the restoration of the Gondwana Rainforests in Queensland, The Healthy Land and Water organization is conducting weed removal and boundary installation in the affected areas to assist in recovery from the wildfire damage, seed bank loss, and weed intrusion. This project has seen 95% of rainforest plant species resprouting post-wildfire, as well as the discovery of a thriving population of the endangered Southern Pink Underwing Moth in Lamington National Park.

By now, over 11,000 pest animals have been removed from New South Wales alone, with 1.37 million total hectares treated for pests, 12,600 treated for weeds, and 9.8 million surveyed for flora and fauna. More than 9,000 animals have been rescued so far, with 3,700 treated and 1,000 rehabilitated from bushfire injuries, and 5,300 have been released into the wild.

As of May 2021, next steps for recovery involved commencing more projects to support multiregional priority species and recovery initiatives led by the Landcare organization.

Work Cited:

[1] “Activities and Outcomes.” Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment,

[2] WWF-Australia. “New WWF Report: 3 Billion Animals Impacted by Australia’s Bushfire

Crisis.” WWF-Australia,

Accessed 4 Aug. 2021.


[3] Parc, Elisabeth du, and Louisa Yasukawa. “The 2019–2020 Australian Bushfires: From Temporary Evacuation to Longer-Term Displacement.” Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2020, p. 5,

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