Life in the Haze

A look at the daily disruptions of Black Summer bushfire smoke in Canberra


Bushfire Recovery of the Gang-gang Cockatoo

Researching an iconic species in the aftermath of Black Summer


The Purple Copper Butterfly: A New Discovery in the ACT

Assessing the distribution and habitat requirements of Purple Copper Butterflies in Namadgi National Park


Post-fire Recovery of Mountain Galaxias

How well are these native fish faring?


Ecological Burning in Offsets

Low-intensity burns. High ecological benefits.


Landcare and Bushfire Recovery

Mobilising volunteer efforts to restore native habitat after Black Summer

The summer of 2019–20 was one that most of us would like to forget, though it will likely forever be burnt into our minds. During the bushfires that summer, 87,923 hectares of the ACT — including 80 per cent of Namadgi National Park1 — was burnt. In the aftermath, around 1000 Canberrans put their hands up to work with Landcare on bushfire recovery efforts.

To mobilise this new volunteer workforce, Landcare ACT coordinated with a range of partners on projects to protect and restore native flora and fauna in the wake of the Black Summer. 

Volunteers gathering in Namadgi National Park. Source: Landcare ACT

Two of these projects saw Landcare ACT and Southern ACT Catchment Group partner with the ACT Government, rural lessees and scientists to coordinate community action in the restoration of sub-alpine sphagnum bogs, fens and grasslands habitats in Namadgi National Park. On-ground activities included:

  • weed control, which reduced competition to native vegetation naturally regenerating on burnt areas 
  • erosion control, which increased water quality as well as habitat condition for native instream and riparian species
  • ecological monitoring, including pest plant surveys and flora surveys
  • installing shade cloth to promote the regrowth of sphagnum, and
  • installing fences to restrict grazing animals.

Volunteers worked with experts, such as Associate Professor Ben Keaney from the ANU, to assist this recovery project.

A volunteer assisting with restoration activities. Source: Landcare ACT

“Canberra’s bogs play a critical role in our ecosystem. In addition to providing habitat for endangered species, bogs contain sphagnum moss which plays an essential role in filtering our drinking water and regulating the flow of water, much like a tap, into our catchment areas,” said Associate Professor Keaney. “Canberra’s bogs have suffered under the impacts of the 2003 and 2019–20 bushfires, and more broadly climate change. We need to help our bogs recover so they can continue to play their critical role in the environment.”

While the projects focussed on restoring habitat, they also had positive outcomes for the volunteers themselves. Volunteers shared how much it meant to them to be able to contribute to landscape restoration after a difficult year of bushfires, hazardous smoke and the pandemic. A film about the project can be found here.

The Frogs from the Ashes project saw Landcare ACT working with Ginninderra Catchment Group to support the recovery of threatened frog species in bushfire affected areas of Namadgi National Park. Following extensive destruction of frog habitat in the Orroral Valley Fire, 10 volunteers undertook 34 surveys during the 2021–22 breeding season, producing a significant amount of new native frog data. Twelve long-term monitoring sites were established.

“Historically, there has been a really limited understanding of frog species’ responses to fire, so the data from this project has been invaluable. Before the fires both Dendy’s toadlet (Pseudophryne dendyi) and Bibron’s toadlet (Pseudophryne bibronii) had been experiencing long-term population declines and we needed to find out if they had survived and locate any remnant populations,” said Anke Maria Hoefer, ACT and Region FrogWatch Coordinator at Ginninderra Catchment Group.

According to Karissa Preuss, CEO of Landcare ACT, these Landcare-led bushfire recovery projects “highlighted the value of local environmental protection projects in supporting the recovery of bushfire-affected communities and environments”. The involvement of volunteers in post-bushfire recovery work illustrates the valuable role that community-based Landcare organisations can play in environmental protection and restoration.

  1. These projects were supported by a number of organisations that provided specific funding for environmental recovery following Black Summer including the Australian Government, Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), and Landcare Australia. ↩︎


Greater Gliders in the ACT

Broadening our understanding of Greater Glider distribution after Black Summer