Dead fish in the Macleay River near Kempsey. It is being claimed that the water flowing down creeks and rivers in the area is choked with bushfire ash which is in turn suffocating the fish. Source: Pic: Arthur Bain via Facebook @abccoffscoast https://www.facebook.com/abccoffscoast/
Dead fish in the Macleay River near Kempsey. It is being claimed that the water flowing down creeks and rivers in the area is choked with bushfire ash which is in turn suffocating the fish. Source: Pic: Arthur Bain via Facebook @abccoffscoast https://www.facebook.com/abccoffscoast/

Animals, plants queue up for bushfire recovery grants

FOLLOWING the devastation of last summer’s bushfires, more money is available to give helping hand to native animals. They just need someone to take it.

Conservation groups, traditional owners and councils are being encouraged to apply for grants to continue the effort to help their local native animals and plants recover.

The $10 million Bushfire Recovery for Wildlife and Habitat Community Grants Program is open for applications until November 27.

The 2019/20 bushfires effect on local species has been profound, with koalas the most notable victim.

It is estimated 8000 koalas were killed in bushfires in northern NSW alone and there are fears the species could become extinct in NSW by 2050 if more is not done to help the species recover.

The North Coast koala population was devastated by bushfire.
The North Coast koala population was devastated by bushfire.

However, it was not just the furry favourites which were severely affected.

River ecosystems were also ravaged with number of fish kills in the region attributed to ash run-off following significant rainfall weeks after the bushfires.

The long drought had already put the fish population in the upper reaches of the Clarence River in peril and the bushfires and rain simply compounded the problem.

The Department Primary Industries staff even resorted to fish relocation in an effort to protect various threatened species.

“I have visited communities and have seen first-hand the early results of bushfire recovery work on our native habitats,” Environment Minister Susan Ley said.

“Recovery is already happening, but it is going to take time and the community has a vital role to play in continuing to make it happen.”

DPI’s Mitch Turner with a rescued Eastern Freshwater Cod being monitored at the Grafton Fisheries Centre.
DPI’s Mitch Turner with a rescued Eastern Freshwater Cod being monitored at the Grafton Fisheries Centre.

Cowper MP Pat Conaghan said excellent work had already taken place to help native animals and plants recover from the bushfires.

“Our Government recognises harnessing local knowledge and stewardship, combined with providing financial support, is essential to the recovery of our native flora and fauna,” he said.

“Work is already happening through funding from our Government such as assistance for threatened frogs impacted by bushfires, support for threatened birds and native bats and restoring koala habitat in New South Wales.

“But there is more work to be done to help our environment and animals recover and I encourage all stakeholders to consider applying for a grant.”

Cowper MP Pat Conaghan, Environment Minister Susan Ley and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger Geoff James during an inspection of the bushfire impacts at Lake Innes Nature Reserve in January.
Cowper MP Pat Conaghan, Environment Minister Susan Ley and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger Geoff James during an inspection of the bushfire impacts at Lake Innes Nature Reserve in January.

Grants from $5,000 to $150,000 are available for projects such as, but not limited to, providing supplementary animal shelter, nest boxes and artificial hollows, eradicating or reducing the impact of pest animals and weeds, protecting sensitive habitat and waterways, and seed collection, propagation and revegetation of native plants.

Grant guidelines are available at business.gov.au/brwhc and applications close on November 27.