Since the fires of last summer there has been a lot of conservation recovery and rehabilitation work carried out in and around Kosciuszko National Park. Recently the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) hosted an update on the work that has been done, through a forum called Conservation in Action, which was held in Tumut.

As we know, a lot of Kosciuszko National Park was heavily impacted by the fires. Dan Nicholls, from the NPWS gave an outline of some of the work carried out since then, which includes:

  • the reestablishment of nursery sites for the endangered Corroboree Frog,
  • assessment and planned actions responding to the loss of heritage assets in the park,
  • stabilisation programs to protect vulnerable soils and
  • ramping up action to combat highly invasive weeds that can spread after fire.

Many of these programs are engaging with volunteers and others in the community.

The following report is taken from the Tumut and Adelong Times:

Threatened species officer David Hunter spoke about the fate and efforts to preserve the Southern Corroboree Frog, Spotted Tree Frog and Northern Corroboree Frog in the park in the wake of the fires.

He said of the four breeding areas of the three frogs, three were impacted by the fires, two severely.

“The Southern Tree Frog suffered a 95% population crash after the fires,” he said.

The Northern Tree Frog is doing better than the other two, but it also is showing signs of decline.

Natural Recovery Manager Gabi Wilks talked about the impact and recovery of native species after the fire.

“The largest component of absent species are small insectivores or partial insectivores/nectivores with 82 per cent not recorded after the fire.

NPWS says that, since the fires, their recovery efforts have focused on key areas:

  • Feral animal control
  • Intensive weed control
  • Protecting important wildlife habitat
  • Support to wildlife rehabilitators

Check here for a story about the forum in the Tumut and Adelong Times by Josh Gidney.

Details on NPWS recovery efforts in the park can be found here.

Climate change makes fires worse

Jindabyne-based Atmospheric Scientist Dr Stuart Browning also presented at the forum, and noted that “2019 was the hottest and driest year on record.’

He explained how a sudden stratospheric warming event in September 2019 drove a lot of the hot, dry windy conditions over Australia in the subsequent summer.

“These conditions are set to become a lot more common, and we are going to have to deal with them more frequently, rather than every 50 to 100 years as in the past,” he said.

This is consistent with everything we know about the influence of climate change on fire seasons. For instance, according to research carried out after the fires, global warming played a big role in generating long-lasting heat waves that fueled Australia’s deadly 2019-2020 wildfire season.

The independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry found the severity and extent of the 2019-20 bushfire season was caused by extreme weather (drought, high average temperature, low humidity), influenced by climate change. The Inquiry reported that NSW experienced both its hottest and driest year on record in 2019.

The Inquiry also established that fuel loads were, in general and on average, no higher than for other seasons since 1990.