Research projects back bushfire recovery

Melissa McIntosh and Sussan Ley at Castlereagh on Wednesday. Photo: Megan Dunn.
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Last summer NSW experienced one of the most devastating bushfire seasons with bushland reserves in the local Penrith area being affected.

Nearly a year on, researchers from Western Sydney University (WSU) are calling on the community to take part in workshops to research how the native vegetation and wildlife has recovered.

Speaking with the Weekender, WSU Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Bushfire Recovery, Dr Alison Hewitt, said the workshops are part of a larger project.

“We have got some funding through the Commonwealth Government’s Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery program, so we are aiming to look at endangered ecological communities,” she said.

“We are combining with staff at the University of New South Wales’ School of Aviation to use aerial Lidar imaging and intensive on-ground surveys to investigate recovery parameters, such as bushland structure, biomass and biodiversity.”

Professor Elise Pendall and Dr Alison Hewitt. Photo: Melinda Jane.

With other members participating, Dr Hewitt said they hope that residents will be involved in the research, which is happening on November 24 and 25.

“We have invited members of the Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council, because we will be working partly on their lands along with students from WSU,” she said.

“We are hoping for community member participants that live in the area, value bushlands and are interested in how they might be fairing after the fire to help with on-land surveys.”

Across the two days, participants will be on the ground in reserves before going to WSU’s Hawkesbury campus.

“We will be at reserves in Castlereagh, Londonderry, Cranebrook, Agnes Banks and Berkshire Park conducting assessments, then we will retreat to campus to discuss what we find,” Dr Hewitt said.

Dr Hewitt said the research conducted will help guide plans in response to fires in bushland areas.

Meanwhile, Lindsay MP Melissa McIntosh and Environment Minister Sussan Ley visited Castlereagh Nature Reserve on Wednesday, welcoming $13 million in funding that is assisting bushfire recovery projects such as this one.

Melissa McIntosh and Sussan Ley tour Castlereagh Nature Reserve. Photo: Megan Dunn.

“Our community endured a lot through the last bushfire season, and I saw firsthand how this impacted our local flora and fauna when I visited communities in the Mountains and surrounding areas,” Ms McIntosh said.

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