In February 2009 14 major bushfires burnt 430,000 hectares of public and private land, with areas north-east of Melbourne the most severely affected. Public land represented 69% of the area burnt, with a quarter of this consisting of conservation reserves. Twenty-seven National and 19 Victorian listed threatened flora and fauna are known to occur in these areas. Following the bushfires, the federal and Victorian governments introduced the 'Rebuilding Together – a Statewide Plan for Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery' for the recovery and rebuilding of fire affected communities. As part of this plan, the Natural Values Recovery Program funded 31 projects to assess the impact of the bushfires, aid in the protection and recovery of bushfire-affected ecosystems and native flora and fauna, and manage pest species.
ARI led 19 of the Natural Values Recovery Program projects. Many of these projects focussed on threatened species including crayfish, frogs, reptiles, fish and orchids. Dunnarts, microbats, deer, feral cats, weeds, fire-sensitive vegetation were also investigated. Engaging members of the community in bushfire recovery and research was the aim for some projects. Examples included: developing a new strategic approach to targeting predator control after bushfires, developing a triage tool to ensure best value for weed control, locating a key spawning site for Macquarie Perch in King Parrot Creek, locating a previously unknown population of Alpine Tree Frogs, and providing added security to one of our most endangered fish, the Barred Galaxias.
Each project produced a published report, with many also producing fact sheets and other material. ARI scientists collaborated with community members, Parks Victoria, Regional DELWP divisions, Catchment Management Authorities and other stakeholders to deliver these projects.