The BirdLife Shoalhaven Bushfire Recovery Program
BirdLife Shoalhaven has just launched its Bushfire Recovery Program to give birds the best chance of recovery after the loss of 90% of Shoalhaven's national parks, state forests and crown land over the summer. Thank you to those of our members and supporters, who are already supporting the program. If you would like to get involved, there are a number of ways you can do this -
• You can write to the Shoalhaven Mayor and Councillors, calling for a moratorium on clearing to give our remnant vegetation and habitat time to recover. More information, and details on how you can contact the Council, are contained in this document - Moratorium on Clearing.
• You can make a submission by 17 April to the independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to make sure that revisions to the Act responds to the impacts of the bushfires in the Shoalhaven and beyond - epbcactreview.environment.gov.au.
• A key part of our program is our Bushfire Research Project to carry out bird surveys at sites across the Shoalhaven, using BirdLife Australia's Birdata portal and app. This is part of a national research project and BirdLife Australia are working closely with us to learn how this can be rolled out effectively in other regions. We will follow a structured monitoring approach with 20-minute 2 hectare surveys. Birdata holds records going back over 20 years, which gives us a base-line on bird diversity and abundance before the bushfires. We now want to see how this has changed and how this differs between areas that escaped the bushfires or those that are regenerating, isolated patches of habitat or still at a ‘ground-zero' level. This will allow us to monitor changes over time through natural regeneration and interventions like water and feeding stations, feral and weed control and replanting projects. We have more than 20 birders involved in the project already, but we need more to ensure we can more fully understand the state of Shoalhaven's birds now and into the future.
If you would like to be involved, and you know your birds -
o sign-up to Birdata and download the app at birdata.birdlife.org.au.
o contact Gary Brady, our project co-ordinator, at email@example.com.
• BirdLife Australia's Birds in Backyards is a research, education and conservation program focused on the birds that live where people live. You can learn how to create bird-friendly spaces in your garden and complete surveys of the birds you see - www.birdsinbackyards.net. Given the extent of the bushfires, everyone's backyards can provide a refuge for birds. Effectively we are at the front-line for the recovery for our birds. Go to www.birdsinbackyards.net/content/article/How-you-can-help-birds-after-fires and you can learn specific actions you can take to help this recovery.
• Every year the Birds in Backyards Autumn Survey takes place from March to April, which for many birds is a season of migration. This year there is a focus on what unusual or unexpected birds are turning up in your backyard. Given the impact of the bushfires many species are appearing in gardens for the first time, so this information will be especially useful and will feed in to our Bushfire Research Project. Birds in Backyards surveys are now entered into the Birdata portal, so to register go to birdata.birdlife.org.au. The Birds in Backyards site will explain how to complete the autumn surveys and other surveys during the rest of the year.
• If you are keen to help our birds by getting involved in regenerating habitat, consider joining your local Bushcare or Landcare group. Many of the groups will be looking for local residents to meet the increased effort that will be required to help the bush recover over the long-term. Go to Shoalhaven Bushcare or Shoalhaven Landcare for more information.
• If you would like to support bird conservation across Australia and our own Bushfire Recovery Project, please consider becoming a member or regular donor of BirdLife Australia, which means you receive the national quarterly magazine and automatically become a member of BirdLife Shoalhaven. Alternatively, you can keep up-to-date on what is happening locally by becoming a BirdLife Shoalhaven Supporter. You can find the links you need for these options on birdlifeshoalhaven.org/joinus.html.
• One thing that we can all do is talk to friends about how birds are faring after the bushfires and our Bushfire Recovery Program. Updates of the program will be provided in each BirdLife Shoalhaven Magazine with new ways in which you can get involved. Please forward the link to the magazine to your friends and through your own social media when it comes out each quarter.
• Follow and share our Facebook posts - www.facebook.com/shoalhavenbirdlife- and our Twitter feeds. A lot of interesting and good news sightings are already being recorded through our Bushfire Research Project and I am sure in your own backyards. So, let's share them, as people always like good news!
• Any program needs to evolve over time, so if you have any more ideas, please let us know.
I want to close by acknowledging the other groups and organisations, who are doing amazing work as part of the wider wildlife recovery program in the Shoalhaven. This includes the many volunteers looking after water and feeding stations, South Coast Animal Rescue, Shoalhaven Landcare, NatureMapr, National Parks and Wildlife Service, South Local Land Services and Council staff. A key aim of BirdLife Shoalhaven's Bushfire Recovery Program is sharing what we are learning about birds to help add value to other projects and activities.
BirdLife Shoalhaven President