The December 2019 Cudlee Creek bushfires have destroyed over 21,000 hectares, 84 homes and 21 properties.
As an initial response, the Upper River Torrens Landcare Group (URTLG) committee members began sowing seed into trays to provide replacement vegetation for the affected areas.
A social media post asking for assistance in the nursery and/or for growers resulted in over 600 emails offering help. Many teachers and school principals also responded wanting to get students involved. This project has grown and offers a practical way for the wider community to support the recovery process for wildlife, habitat and the people who live in these areas.
A decision was made by the URTLG committee to build an alliance and collaborate with other local “like minded” groups to further develop the Project. The Project's aim is to recreate the habitat which has been destroyed and the participating groups have decided on the following name for the Project:
"Habitat Recovery Alliance"
Representatives from each of these groups are working together to continue to facilitate the Farmers Market seedling workshops, to provide support for volunteer growers, and to coordinate later planting activities.
In addition, we will soon invite people who are interested in getting some revegetation established on their properties to respond to a questionnaire. This will allow us to assess needs and priorities in order to provide appropriate assistance.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
Collaboration of local groups secures bushfire recovery funding grants
Early in 2020, in response to the widespread Cudlee Creek bushfires, the Upper River Torrens Landcare Group (URTLG) formed an alliance with seven local community groups. This collaborative group, named Habitat Recovery Alliance (HRA) was assembled to further develop and advance the activities that the URTLG had already established to support habitat recovery within the bushfire scar.
Kim Thompson, Secretary of the URTLG said “This grass roots project had already attracted much volunteer support and there was a real opportunity to increase engagement with the community and deliver wildlife habitat outcomes on the ground. The formation of the HRA will strengthen those efforts in the road to recovery.”
The collaborators for the project include Mt Pleasant Natural Resource Centre Inc., Cudlee Creek Fire- Garden Recovery, Mt Pleasant Farmers Market Inc., Kersbrook Landcare Group, Barossa Bush Gardens, Mt Pleasant Progress Association Inc., and Seeding Natives Inc.
In February and March, the HRA worked together to build an “adopt a box scheme” and facilitate volunteer seedling workshops. Upon the completion of each of the workshops, the volunteer growers were able to take home the growing kit they had prepared and take care of seedlings until planting season.
Stephen Anderson, workshop co-ordinator said, “These efforts produced 16,750 seedlings, over 6 Saturdays with 18 workshop sessions, with 220 individual volunteers growing, with 42 different plant species. The workshops became a very practical way for the wider community to support the recovery process for wildlife, habitat and the people who live in these areas. “
To further financially support efforts of the HRA, the group applied for, and was successful in receiving a Landcare Australia Bushfire Recovery Grant and a Lockheed Martin Landcare Grant. Of the 23 Landcare Australia Bushfire Recovery Grants awarded nationally, HRA’s strong application made it one of three South Australian groups to receive this grant. This grants program focuses on supporting farmers, Landcare groups and other community groups with essential wildlife habitat restoration, shelterbelts and fencing projects.
Kim Thompson said, “Funds from the Landcare Australia Bushfire Recovery Grant and the Lockheed Martin Landcare Grant will enable the Habitat Recovery Alliance to deliver essential habitat restoration across the fire scar. This will include site assessment and preparation, provision of appropriate plants, guards and stakes, facilitation and coordination of planting, building and installation of appropriate wildlife nest boxes for each site.”
In spite of the extra challenges due to the recent coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, and the ongoing daily changes to government requirements in attempts to stop the spread of this pandemic, the HRA are now finding ways to co-ordinate the collection, planting and distribution of volunteer grown seedlings. The Adelaide & Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board (AMLRNRM) have offered assistance to support the HRA with these many tasks.
Kim said, “This collaboration and assistance will add to the existing capacity of the Alliance to support our volunteers, communities and environmental restoration in this challenging time.”
The Habitat Recovery Alliance anticipates the project will extend into the next three years at least, with the initial grants to be acquitted late 2020. For more information or enquiries about the project, contact Terese Stephens email@example.com or phone 0417 330 343.