Ecological Recovery after the Dunn's Road Bushfire

Strategies to enhance the recovery of flora and fauna after fire

Ecological Recovery after the Dunn's Road Bushfire

Strategies to enhance the recovery of flora and fauna after fire

Collaborations -

LP011-006

The issue

The Dunns Rd fire started in a private pine plantation near Ellerslie Nature Reserve, located in the SW Slopes near Adelong, on 31st December and travelled in a southwesterly direction, threatening the townships of Batlow and Tumbarumba, and burning out an area of 333,940 ha in total. Catastrophic fire weather on the 4th January resulted in secondary fronts moving in a northeasterly direction, and the fire merged with the Green Valley fire south of Tumbarumba on the 11 January, and along with the East Ournie Creek fire, became a 600 000 ha megafire. Ecologically Endangered Communities (EECs), along with many threatened animal species, were severely impacted.

The solution

Murrumbidgee Landcare teamed up with Holbrook Landcare to produce an Ecological Recovery Report for the Murray and Riverina Local Land Services. Satellite mapping was used to identify the extent of EEC damage and the existence of refuge areas across the fire scar. Previous research on threatened species across the SW Slopes was collated, and ecological knowledge gaps were identified. Various strategies were developed for recovery including the protection and improved connectivity of Endangered Ecological Communities, engagement with key stakeholders to emphasise the importance of these EECs to ecological fire recovery, and the monitoring of threatened species across refuge areas to identify recovery nodes and improve scientific understanding. 

The impact

The Dunn's Road/Green Valley megafire impacted over 600 000 ha across the SW slopes of NSW and  northern Victoria. Forty percent of National Parks in the region were burnt, as well as thirty percent of State Forests. Within the Snowy Valleys LGA 800 ratepayers were directly affected, with more than 100 homes and buildings lost and more than 8000 stock losses. Dry and wet sclerophyll vegetation (grassy box gum woodlands) occur across more than 50% of the fire scar. An historical absence of comprehensive monitoring of species in these woodlands, including many threatened species, suggest future research opportunities to determine the fire's impact and to develop recovery strategies for these ecological communities.

Key facts

  • The Dunn's Road/Green Valley fire burnt over 600 000 ha.
  • Threatened Grassy Box Gum Woodlands (EEC) were severely impacted.
  • Refuge areas (unburnt) will be the main source of animal species recovery.
  • Preferred habitat for many threatened species associated with EEC.