Landholders, local businesses and wildlife in the Greater Blue Mountains and upper Abercrombie Catchment will soon benefit from a suite of post-fire recovery activities aimed at strengthening community and landscape resilience, andreducing the impacts of future environmental disasters.

The Blue Mountains is one of four landscapes that will receive support from a new, large-scale effort to restore country, culture and community-led by the Great Eastern Ranges with funding from the Australian and NSW Governments’ Bushfire Local Economic Recovery (BLER) fund.

The grassroots-driven activities will include working with local landholders to identify and support their post-fire recovery needs, such as restoring habitat, protecting cultural assets and managing feral animals and weeds; workshops and training days to aid community healing and build capacity,and monitoring of local wildlife recovery.

“Our regional partnership model enables us to work directly with the people who have been the most impacted and to respond to local needs and conditions. This means that communities and individuals lead their own recovery whilst operating in the context of a broader planned, coordinated and adaptive landscape response, says Gary Howling, CEO of Great Eastern Ranges Inc.

Mr Howling says that the project was developed in response to the appeals for support that flowed from local communities and landholders after the bushfires.

Mary Bonet, Program Manager of Kanangra-Boyd to Wyangala (K2W) Inc, one of the lead partners involved in the project, says, “The bushfires raged across our landscape for over two months, burning over 60,000 hectares of the K2W Link – a wildlife corridor connecting the Greater Blue Mountains to Wyangala Dam – and a further 200,000ha of adjoining land.

“We are still struggling today with the devastating loss of lives, livelihoods, wildlife, cattle and buildings those fires caused.

“Our rural landholders and local businesses lack the capacity and funding to effectively action the post-fire recovery efforts they require and are in real need of support and guidance. Thework we will be doing through the GER BLER fund project will enable our community and landscape to heal and rebuild,and to bounce back stronger from the bushfires.”

The project will bring locals together with the diverse skills and expertise required to deliver a coordinated effort at scale,including restoration experts, environmental educators, Local Aboriginal Land Councils, traditional owners, protected area managers, local government and Local Landcare services.

As well as speeding up the recovery of the region’s environment and striking natural scenery, the project will boost local economies through the creation of new jobs whichinclude Aboriginal Ranger positions, and the sourcing of materials for on-ground works from local suppliers.

The project will build on the targeted post-fire recovery workthat the GER and its partners have been doing in the Greater Blue Mountains and other landscapes since early 2019.

Other lead partners of the BLER fund project include IFAW Australia, the Community Environment Network and three of GER’s regional partner networks – the Border Ranges Alliance, Illawarra to Shoalhaven and Kosciusko to Coast.

“We welcome the announcement of this critical funding from the Commonwealth and NSW Government to support bushfire impacted communities across New South Wales. We look forward to working with our partners to support and create much-needed jobs, strengthen resilience and reduce the impact of future environmental disasters,” says Gary Howling.

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