Landcare’s role in supporting bushfire impacted communities

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Community Fire and flood recovery

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Statement by Landcare Australia in conjunction with National Landcare Network with Landcare Recovery Appeal and resources for fire affected communities.

•How do Landcare groups assist during bushfire recovery?
•How Landcare Australia is supporting Landcare groups?
•What can you do?

The current bushfires in Australia are at an unprecedented scale and have significantly impacted the environment and communities in many parts of the country. Millions of hectares of land have been devastated, with an estimated loss of more than one billion native animals, thousands of homes have been destroyed and lives tragically lost.

We applaud and thank the amazing work of Australia’s fire-fighting and emergency response services, so reliant at these times on volunteer effort.

Landcare Australia recognises that with global average temperature continuing to rise, climate-related emergencies such as the current bushfires, and recent flood and rain events, can be expected to increase in their frequency and intensity and occur over longer time periods. With the increasing impacts of climate change and extreme natural disasters, Australia’s communities, landscape and biodiversity are under enormous pressure.

It is within this context that Landcare and landcarers will play a continuing, enhanced and critical role in both the immediate and long term responses to natural disasters.

Landcarers provide early response, an existing and immediate face-to-face network, and are actively caring for their local areas. Early response measures include: telephone check-ups to people in their community; assisting with the clean-up and restoration; replacing fencing and caring for stock and native animals. Beyond the immediate aftermath of natural disasters, Landcare groups also provide a social hub, including bringing people together, and running workshops with mental health experts to talk to group members directly. Local landcarers are also there for the long term, with on-ground works over months and years, providing affected people with opportunities to actively participate in community and environmental recovery, working together to repair properties, to heal and nurture their communities and the environment.

In the 10 years following Black Saturday, many Landcare groups were involved in the response effort. Researchers from Melbourne University found people involved in community groups were more likely to have better mental health outcomes than those who weren’t. Additionally, they found strong connections to the natural environment was also associated with increased mental health, life satisfaction, resilience, community attachment and post-traumatic growth.*

Landcare Australia, together with the National Landcare Network, and the state and territory Landcare organisations, will continue to support the Landcare community to work together to restore land, water and coastal landscapes, enhance habitat and strengthen community resilience.

How do Landcare groups assist during bushfire recovery? Just some of the activities community Landcare groups and volunteers across Australia will co-ordinate during bushfire recovery include:

•forging partnerships to understand the individual needs of local affected communities

•supporting mental health outcomes for farmers and others in the community by organising volunteer working bees, community workshops and Landcare meetings

•removing burnt and fallen trees from fence lines, roads and access tracks

•cleaning up rubble from burnt sheds and other infrastructure including fencing which usually involves many kilometres and therefore days of rolling up and removal of damaged wire

•installing temporary fencing to manage immediate stock and pest control needs

•replacing permanent fencing over a longer period of time •revegetating bush areas, paddock trees and shelter belts as conditions become appropriate

•restoring habitat for wildlife including construction and installation of nest boxes and re-planting Indigenous vegetation (grasses, shrubs and trees)

•controlling weeds and feral animals that can get out of hand post fire to ensure best outcomes for revegetation and wildlife recovery efforts

•organising knowledge sharing workshops to provide information to land holders on best practice fire recovery for pastures, weed management, erosion control, fencing, nest box installation and revegetation to restore biodiversity and productivity to the landscape

•supporting farmers and landholders with projects that improve soil health, conservation activities, and adaptation to climate change techniques critical to managing land and water assets

•working with Traditional Owner groups to protect and enhance cultural heritage and environmental outcomes on Country

•building community capacity and resilience with communications, storytelling, volunteering and creating partnerships for on ground action

•mobilising volunteers to help farmers and landholders with recovery activities.

For further information about Landcare Australia's role please go to the Landcare Australia website.

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