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Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Saving wildlife: AWC's bush fire response & recovery


AWC takes a long term approach to delivering effective on-ground conservation in order to halt the decline of Australia’s amazing biodiversity and restore our natural capital for generations of Australians.  We are one of the largest private (non-profit) owners and managers of land in Australia, protecting wildlife and habitats across more than 6.5 million hectares in iconic regions such north Queensland, the Top End, the remote Kimberley, Lake Eyre, the Mallee country and Pilliga forests of New South Wales.  

Now is a critical time for Australia’s wildlife.  Australia already has the worst record of recent mammal extinctions in the world and the rate of biodiversity loss is accelerating. The impact of the recent bushfires has been catastrophic – particularly for species that were already on the edge of survival.

AWC has a successful track record of halting biodiversity loss and restoring wildlife populations.  While none of AWC’s properties have been impacted by the recent bushfires, we are taking action to assist a range of organisations on the ground to save species which are now under increased pressure as a result of the devastating bushfires. Given the scale of the fires, several species that were already threatened may now be pushed to extinction unless urgent action is taken to secure their survival.  The recent fires also highlight the importance of our existing projects to secure populations of Australia’s threatened wildlife.  

AWC’s wildlife response – we are working with Governments, regional and local wildlife organisations to offer advice, resources and assistance in bushfire affected areas as well as providing long-term solutions for securing threatened species populations nationally as part of our national program of biodiversity restoration.  For example:

  • AWC is offering assistance and advice to key stakeholders, Federal and State Governments on wildlife recovery following the bushfires;
  • AWC is currently working with private conservation group South Endeavour Trust to send a team of ecologists to fire affected areas in northern NSW. Two reserves were heavily impacted by fire: Bezzant’s Lease near Glen Innes and Kewilpa, near Casino. The AWC team will conduct targeted surveys at these reserves which lie within the range of several threatened species, including the Spotted-tailed Quoll, Giant Barred Frog and Powerful Owl.
  • We have a groundbreaking partnership already in place with the NSW Government to implement long term biodiversity restoration at two national parks where we are restoring locally extinct endangered wildlife populations;
  • AWC undertakes Australia’s largest field science program (our team of field ecologists undertake more than 270,000 trap nights around the country every year).  We are therefore well positioned to provide ecologists, trapping equipment and technology to undertake urgent biological surveys to search for and secure surviving endangered wildlife;
  • As a national leader in feral animal control we are providing practical assistance and advice to key stakeholders as well as undertaking on-ground action to control feral animals. For example, AWC is taking urgent action to secure areas where endangered wildlife have survived the bushfires by building fences around them and removing feral predators (eg, to save the Kangaroo Island Dunnart – now potentially Australia’s most endangered mammal).  
  • AWC is also providing long-term solutions for saving endangered wildlife by building predator-free safe-havens and translocating endangered wildlife to these areas. For example, in 2020 AWC is building a large feral-free fenced area in north Queensland and will be translocating critically endangered northern Bettongs here.    
  • AWC is undertaking Australia’s most ambitious endangered mammal reintroduction program that will see the future of more than 20 of Australia’s most endangered mammals, such as Numbats, Bilbies, Bettongs and Bridled Nailtail Wallabies secured over the long term.

AWC’s habitat restoration – includes:

  • Providing strategic advice on habitat restoration to private landholders and key stakeholders impacted by the bushfires;
  • AWC has a substantial program to rewild habitats (not impacted by the bushfires) where native mammals have gone regionally extinct in order to restore ecosystem health and functioning;
  • Undertaking practical land management such as removing feral herbivores (i.e. goats, sheep, cattle, donkeys, rabbits), controlling feral predators (cats, foxes) to restore biodiversity;
  • Fire management (AWC is a national leader in fire management and implements the largest non-government fire management program across more than 7.5 million hectares of Australia).  In all of the regions where we have implemented this program we have seen wildfires reduced by more than 50%. The science tells us we are getting this right – by preventing large-scale wildfires we are effectively halting the decline of Australia’s biodiversity and restoring our natural capital.  This puts AWC in a unique position to share our knowledge and contribute towards the national debate about how to future-proof Australia’s landscapes from bushfire devastation. 

Securing Australia’s natural capital over the long term – in addition to our land management actions, we are undertaking rigorous scientific research:

  • To find solutions for preventing large-scale wildfires;
  • Into strategies for controlling feral predators on a landscape scale;
  • To determine how Australia’s changing climate will impact our wildlife in the future, and the interventions required to secure Australia’s biodiversity over the long term.

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