By Derek Schlennstedt
Premier Dan Andrews and Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio visited Healesville Sanctuary this morning to announce that the Andrews Labor Government is taking immediate action to support Victoria’s bushfire impacted wildlife and biodiversity with a $17.5 million initial rescue package.
This package will support a range of urgent actions necessary to give our treasured plants and animals the best chance of survival – including critical habitat restoration, predator and pest control, and immediate salvage operations.
It will be targeted to those species most at risk, including the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby – Victoria’s most endangered mammal – Long-footed Potaroo and Large Brown Tree Frog.
It’s estimated 185 of Victoria’s species, many of them rare and threatened, have already been impacted by the fire emergency.
These include 19 mammal species, 13 frog species, 10 reptile species, 9 bird species, 29 aquatic species and 38 plant species including the Bottlebrush, Snowy River Westringia and the Gippsland Banksia.
Speaking at Healesville Sanctuary this morning, Ms D’Ambrosio urged Federal Government to begin flowing funds into affected communities.
“This is vital funding that will help make a real difference right now – but we can’t do it alone.
We need support from the Federal Government to start flowing so we can do even more to help our environment recover.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said the funding would expand the Wildlife Triage Units and Wildlife Assessment Teams who are already in operation in and around the fire grounds.
“There are already specialist teams on the ground providing food, shelter and care for injured animals – this funding will expand this vital work, helping our most precious plants and animals recover from these devastating fires.”
The Government’s initial rescue package has been informed by expert advice on biodiversity response and recovery – a preliminary report is available at wildlife.vic.gov.au.
Anyone wanting to support Victorian wildlife impacted by fire is encouraged to donate to the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund at donate.zoo.org.au/donation.