Disasters, such as bushfires, can cause significant harm to people’s relationship with the natural environment. In addition to the event itself, the loss of wildlife and familiar landscapes can be devastating for people. But nature does respond and recover, even though this may be slow and not complete.  It has been shown that connecting people with nature’s recovery can help trauma-affected communities heal.

Following the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, ARI has partnered with Zoos Victoria to support nature’s role in helping people and communities recover. The collaborative program looks at social, economic and environmental recovery of fire-impacted communities, while assisting the recovery of the natural environment.

This program supports fire-impacted communities to learn about how nature is responding to the bushfires, and to lead projects that benefit local plants, wildlife and habitats. It provides communities with access to biologists and ecological experts for advice and guidance, support citizen science projects and create opportunities to share stories of human-nature recovery using various media (e.g. films, seminars, audio).

Connecting with a recovering burnt grass tree landscape

A banksia sprouting after being burnt

It is anticipated that taking part in these projects and witnessing the recovery of nature, will lead to many benefits for affected people. For many, it can build a sense of hope and connection with others. This program includes a research component to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach, for the recovery of both nature and people in Victoria. The findings from this work will help guide future approaches to bushfire recovery.

A 'Sharing Stories of Nature Recovery' forum in East Gippsland delivered diverse presentations from community members and agency staff: videos recordings of each session are available on YouTube.

For more information contact:

fern.hames@delwp.vic.gov.au (ARI) or Craig Whiteford cwhiteford@zoo.org.au (Zoos Victoria)

This collaboration is funded by the Victorian Government’s Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program (Nature-led community recovery).

Page last updated: 23/06/21