Today is World Wetland Day and the work needed to restore, repair and protect one of the most significant wetlands in the Northern Rivers following the Black Summer fires is underway.
Bungawalbin is a little south of Coraki and west of Evans Head and Woodburn and during the Balck Summer Fires in 2019/20 ‘Over ninety-five per cent of the Bungawalbin area was burnt,’ says Maree Thomson, Envite Environment Senior Environment Coordinator. The area includes the Bungawalbin National Park and the Bungawalbin State Conservation Area.
‘Wetlands can cope with fire to a certain degree, but not if it’s really hot, dry and devastating. Unfortunately, 2019 was that year. This left many of our threatened species on the brink of disappearing.
‘This area is part of a large wetland system which contains lowland subtropical rainforest, coastal swamp forests, coastal floodplain wetlands and dry sclerophyll forest and is one of the most significant areas of fauna biodiversity in north-east NSW.
‘Unfortunately, the fires were preceded by drought and followed by floods resulting in ideal conditions for growth weeds such as Lantana and Cats Claw Creeper which out-compete regenerating native plants if not controlled,’ said Ms Thompson.
Bandjalang Traditional Owners, Bungawalbin Landcare, private landholders and Envite Environment have been working together with funding from the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants as the Bungawalbin Landscape Bushfire Recovery Project. They have successfully managed to support threatened species recovery through restoration works and invasive species control after the devastating 2019 bushfires that burnt large swaths of the wetlands and rainforest. Endangered and threatened birds, fish, frogs, and plants have made a significant comeback on a threatened wetland.
World Wetland Day
With World Wetland Day on February 3 focusing on taking action to restore, repair and protect wetlands, Maree says community support and collaboration is vital in wetland habitats enhancing their important role now and into the future.
‘Bungawalbin Landcare and landholders in the area have worked hard to assist wildlife and habitat to recovery from bushfires and the Minyumai Indigenous bush regeneration team is working to restore Country of strong cultural significance.
‘Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment. They reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants, improve water quality and provide habitat for animals and plants and many contain a wide diversity of life, supporting plants and animals that are found nowhere ‘By undertaking weed control activities and engaging with local volunteers and landholders we can help to ensure that the wetlands and the species that rely on its health have the best chance of full recovery.’
People interested in bushfire recovery can contact Maree Thompson at Envite Environment on 0428 116 895 if they would like to take part in upcoming community workshops or find out more about the bushfire recovery work underway in the Bungawalbin area.
♦ A development application for a bush camp at Bungawalbin, that was previously rejected, is currently under consideration by the Richmond Valley Council. Concerns have been raised about the potential impact of the campground that ‘is smack-bang in the middle of an area of Wetlands of National Significance’.