Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley has joined Australia Zoo owner Dr Terri Irwin and Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace to discuss wildlife recovery and habitat restoration strategies following Australia’s devastating bushfire crisis.
The Morrison Government provided $1 million in funding for Koala treatment and research to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, one of the country’s busiest wildlife hospitals in December last year, money that is already assisting the hospital’s rehabilitation work and funding new infrastructure.
“The ecological tragedy that has followed Australia’s terrible summer of bushfires to date is adding to the importance of this investment, our further plans to support koala habitat in South East Queensland and the $50 million Wildlife and Habitat restoration package announced last week,” Ms Ley said.
“This is a national approach with all States and Territories joining the Expert Panel under Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box. Funding is already flowing to Natural Resource Managers for feral animal abatement and impact mapping is already commencing to identify key priority areas.
“We know that not all of these plants and animals have been impacted in the same way and that some species are more vulnerable to fire than others.”
Early Departmental estimates indicate 49 nationally listed threatened species (47 of them plant species) have had more than 80 per cent of their likely or known distribution within the fire extent, and a further 65 listed threatened species may have had more than half of their range affected.
The total estimate of threatened species in the path of the fires include 272 plant, 16 mammal, 14 frog, nine bird, seven reptile, four insect, four fish and one spider species. An additional four migratory bird species which are not listed as threatened were also identified.
Dr Terri Irwin AM, owner of Australia Zoo Australia Zoo and co-founder of global conservation charity Wildlife Warriors, said the sad truth is that we will not know the impact from these fires on our wildlife.
“The recent bushfires have added to the existing pressures on our native wildlife. We are seeing an immediate impact through hundreds of orphaned flying foxes being transported from New South Wales to Queensland. Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital has been able to provide treatment and care.,” Dr Irwin said.
“Our strategy for recovery needs to be all-encompassing because an event like this can push already vulnerable species into extinction. We need to ensure every part of our ecosystems are supported for regeneration as this catastrophic event is going to take decades to recover from,” said Dr Irwin.
Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace said that the work of Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital would play an important strategic role in our environmental recovery.
“The Morrison Government is rolling up its sleeves and working with experts around the country and the team at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital live and breathe this challenge every day.”