Media Releases - 13 January 2020

Wilderness Society welcomes $50 million for nature bushfire recovery as “necessary first step”

Image: Adam Stevenson

The Wilderness Society welcomes the Australian Government's initial investment of $50 million for the immediate work of rescue and recovery of wildlife affected by the 2019-20 bushfire crisis as a necessary first step towards recovery. 

The Wilderness Society especially welcomes the commitment to support wildlife carers and undertake a scientific process to understand the extent of the devastation caused by this summer’s horror bushfire season.

National Environment Laws Campaign Manager for the Wilderness Society, Suzanne Milthorpe, said: “Australia’s communities, wildlife and world-famous natural places have been decimated by the catastrophic summer bushfires, and conservation in Australia will be profoundly reshaped by these events. 

“The fires have drawn Australia’s appalling record as a global leader in extinction to the world’s attention, and we can not return to business as usual given the widespread and profound impact that these fires will have on the natural places that support our communities and wildlife.

“As an initial investment, the $50 million is a good start, but much more will be needed to recover wildlife and the habitat critical for their survival. Until the fires are under control, it is impossible to know the extent of the devastation, but we do know that long-term recovery will require funding to be provided at levels that have never been provided in the past, and the Commonwealth needs to be guided by scientists and experts as to how this should be spent.

“It is critical that we see State and Commonwealth governments overcome the lack of cooperation and buck-passing that have characterised the last decade of environmental action in this country, and work together to recover and rehabilitate our devastated wildlife. We need a national bushfire recovery plan that sets out concrete actions for how we recover and restore affected ecosystems, and how we will deal with the growing impacts of climate change.

“Many animals, like the Greater Glider and koala, have lost large areas set aside to ensure their future survival. While we assess the full extent of the damage, it’s vital that we immediately protect the remaining unburnt critical habitat so that the wildlife that survived the fires aren’t then immediately lost to destructive logging or deforestation.  

“For over 20 years, Australia’s wildlife and iconic natural places have suffered a death by a thousand cuts under Australia’s failed nature protection system, and these fires may have pushed many species over the brink. With more catastrophic fire seasons predicted for our future, we need a complete overhaul of how we manage our natural wonders to ensure we don’t lose them forever”, Ms Milthorpe said.

For further comment contact Suzanne Milthorpe on 0408 582 396.