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Wildfire recovery in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area in Australia
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed Australia’s focus, but it hasn’t changed the fact that flora, fauna and whole ecosystems are still struggling to recover from the summer wildfires. At the end of 2019, more than 12 million hectares of forest have been destroyed – which is about one-third the size of Germany. The rain, which followed, helped defuse the situation, but at the same time caused flooding.
As environmental protection makes for one of the Foundation’s objectives, the Management Board decided to contribute a one-off grant to the wildfire recovery programme of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute in Australia in the midst of the crisis at the start of 2020. The funding aims to repair the damage caused by recent fires to flora and fauna in the Blue Mountains World Heritage area and expand the Institute’s Climate Change Monitoring program to better understand the impacts of the recent fires on the World Heritage area, of which more than 800,000 hectares (80%) are affected. Specifically, the changes in vegetation and fauna were observed and compared with the help of regular recordings by photo and infrared cameras. Marsh systems are also being monitored. By monitoring these ecosystems, the institute is developing a better understanding of nature, allowing early warning systems and preventive measures to be taken. The findings can also be shared with other countries to protect ecosystems worldwide.
Data gathered during bushfire recovery is vital for assessing landscape impacts, effects on wildlife populations and vegetation, and changes across whole ecosystems. This helps direct recovery efforts, but also underpins our preparedness for future bushfire management. Dr John Merson, Executive Director of the Institute, is working with local experts to introduce fieldwork processes that follow distancing guidelines while still enabling the efficient capture of data.
The Peter und Luise Hager Foundation will continue to support the institute in 2021.
The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute is an independent, not-for-profit Institute based in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area of Australia. The team conducts research, collaborates worldwide and engages with communities to develop innovative strategies for conservation and sustainability.