Experts review bushfire damage to heritage sites

13 February 2020

Ecologists, heritage experts, Indigenous land managers and community representatives are attending a ministerial roundtable at Parliament House today to review bushfire impacts on natural and cultural heritage sites, and to assist in identifying recovery strategies.

Six of Australia’s 20 World Heritage listed properties have been affected by the devastating fires, including over 80 per cent of the Greater Blue Mountains, 50 per cent of the nation’s Gondwana rainforests spanning across NSW and Queensland, and an unconfirmed number of Indigenous heritage sites.

Today’s roundtable is one of a series I am chairing to help shape the Morrison Government’s wildlife and habitat recovery strategies which have seen an initial commitment of $50 million.

We are already in discussion with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre regarding the impact of the fires on our World Heritage sites and will be providing further advice once detailed field assessments can be completed.

Amid the devastation, there have been some amazing rescue stories including the protection of the ancient Wollemi pines in the Blue Mountains, the rare Nightcap Oak and other endangered species in the Gondwana rainforests, and the revealing of undiscovered elaborate sections of ancient stone-lined channels in the World Heritage listed Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, in southeast Victoria. 

While more than 60% of the newly listed Budj Bim was affected by fire, these were relatively low intensity burns.

In chairing roundtables with environmental NGOs, land managers, leading environmental and ecological scientists, and philanthropic groups and investors, as well as in meetings with our Expert Panel, I have been impressed by the goodwill and commitment to collaborate.