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The Conservation Council’s first Environment Exchange of 2020 was held on Wednesday night with guest speaker Ian Walker, ACT Conservator, to discuss the impacts of the recent bushfires on Namadgi National Park. The event was a resounding success, with just short of 50 people attending the online platform.

Throughout the presentation, Ian covered the Recovery Program that was implemented following the Orroral Valley Bushfire. This involved a team of highly skilled experts, also referred to as the Rapid Assessment Team, entering the park to assess the damage. Ian stepped attendees through what the outcomes of this assessment were, and what challenges lie ahead including invasive plant and pest animals, erosion and falling trees.

Ian also emphasised that involvement of Ngunnawal people continues to play a fundamental role in the recovery process. A bus of First Nations elders were of the first to attend the bushfire scenes, following the extensive impact of the fires. They also continue to play a key role in the recovery process, including the planning and execution of rehabilitation work in the park.

Karissa Preuss, Chief Coordinator of Landcare, then briefly took to the floor to outline the important role of volunteers in the recovery process. Karissa detailed that the focus of volunteer groups in the ACT would now largely focus on weeding, habitat restoration and fence repairs efforts, following the recent bushfires.

Attendees were then given the opportunity to discuss questions with Ian. This facilitated interesting discussions around the use of fire retardant and vegetation, water quality monitoring, funding and how COVID-19 is continually changing the methods of response to recovery processes.

A few key take-home messages emphasised by Ian were that recovery planning and on-ground recovery efforts are still underway despite disruptions as a result of the virus outbreak, and the role of community will continue to play an important part in recovery efforts.

Whilst COVID-19 has presented challenges in addressing post-bushfire issues, it certainly is not a barrier to ensuring a resilient recovery of the ACT’s parks and wildlife following this bushfire season.

We would like to thank everyone who supported the Conservation Council and attended our online event, with special thanks to Ian and Karissa for your contributions to the discussion.

Keep an eye out for our next Environment Exchange event.

Conservation Council staff member Maddie Clegg recently visited Namadgi with ACT Parks staff. Read her report and see her photos.

Watch the video recording of the webinar and view some screenshots below.