An estimated one billion native animals perished in the horrendous bushfires that engulfed South East Australia including much of North East Victoria. Native animal populations will need considerable assistance in coming months to recover, particularly on the back of severe drought conditions.
The North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is working with key partners to address the impacts of the fires in the alpine area of the catchment, with funding from the Australian Governments Regional Land Partnerships program
Biodiversity recovery work is focusing on controlling foxes and feral cats to protect the endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus), while other work aims to protect endangered alpine peatlands via weed and deer control.
Sites targeted by this work include areas directly impacted by fire as well as nearby unburnt patches that can act as refuges for native species.
“A healthy alpine environment is vital for the health of the downstream landscape, and to maintain high water quality for our catchment and our communities,” said Ms Monica Hersburgh, the Regional Project Coordinator Alps Intensive Management with Parks Victoria.
“It was important to commence pest-control activities as soon as possible if we are to protect what remains of these plants and animals after such destructive conditions.”
The North East CMA is coordinating Phase one of the North East Emergency Pest Mitigation and Habitat Protection Project in partnership with Parks Victoria and Mount Hotham Alpine Resort and Management Board, with funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
“Predator control work can protect the remaining habitat for many threatened alpine species that exist within and near Mt Hotham resort,” Ms Georgina Boardman, Technical Services & Environment at the Mount Hotham Resort Management Board.
“The Mount Hotham board really appreciates the Australian government’s funding support and North East CMA assistance at this time of recovery.”
The shorter-term bushfire recovery work complements longer-term work being undertaken by North East CMA and partners to protect these alpine species, guided by the National Recovery Plans for the Mountain Pygmy-possum and the Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens ecological community.
Priority actions of the region’s projects include: habitat and population monitoring; control of key pest animal species such as deer, cats and foxes; weed control and revegetation; and earthworks that will improve hydrological systems that impact habitat.