In response to the unprecedented fires experienced in and around Nightcap National Park, Big Scrub Landcare launched the Saving our Rainforests from Fire campaign to undertake urgent post-fire scientific research and assessment of the bushfire impacts. This work has centred on forested areas including rainforest and areas of mixed rainforest and sclerophyll vegetation. Since the campaign launched more than twenty-thousand dollars has been raised through public donations, a clear indication of community concern and the importance of a continued focus on fire. This funding will continue to support post-fire assessment led by one of the world’s leading rainforest evolutionary ecologists, Dr Robert Kooyman.
Throughout the beginning of this year Dr Rob Kooyman has been travelling the countryside delivering community presentations focused on Fire in the Gondwana Rainforest. Community halls and venues were full with people interested to find out more about our unique local biodiversity, its history over millions of years and the impacts of fire now and into the fire. If you were unable to get along to one of these events, a video of Dr Rob Kooyman’s presentation can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/394820650
Most recently Big Scrub Landcare has worked closely with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), NSW Saving our Species (SoS) program, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and Dr Rob Kooyman in developing a project proposal under the Commonwealth Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery program.
This project focuses on post fire assessment, recovery and restoration of rainforest communities predominately in National Park estate that includes lowland subtropical rainforest listed as critically endangered under Commonwealth legislation and World Heritage Listed Gondwana Rainforest. A suite of activities that are priority post-fire actions have been included in the proposal, including systematic control of weeds, post-fire flora response surveys, fauna monitoring, leaf sample collection of endangered species and subsequent DNA sequencing and genome analysis of two locally endemic endangered tree species with small populations and limited distributions – Nightcap Oak and Minyon Quondong.
Considerable work and collaboration with project partners contributed to the project’s conception. The proposal incorporates on ground knowledge from various agencies (mainly NSW NPWS and SoS), ecologists and practitioners who are invested in threatened species recovery.
The development of this project is a significant milestone for Big Scrub Landcare as it is the first time we have had input and support from NSW NPWS and SoS as well as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. The project aims to contribute to informing future fire planning, strategic conservation management and helping to ensure the survival of rainforest communities and their threatened species. If this proposal is successful, Big Scrub Landcare look forward to continuing this partnership and working closely with these agencies to ensure the project delivers valuable results. The proposal dovetails with Big Scrub Landcare’s existing Saving our Rainforests from Fire project.
The photo accompanying this article is of a Green Hooded Orchid flowering in a recovering patch of forest at Mt Nardi. This photo was taken on the rainforest edge in a blackbutt forest with a rainforest understorey. The area was burnt in a hot fire in November and is now slowly recovering. Blackened trees are shooting from epicormic buds, vines are regrowing, rainforest trees suckering and many species are germinating including many blackbutt seedlings. How we manage these forests on the edges of World Heritage and Critically Endangered cool and lowland sub-tropical rainforest is critical for their future survival.