Two years on from the St Patrick’s Day fires in Victoria’s south-west, an extensive recovery program to rehabilitate the damaged landscape has been completed.

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) coordinated the works with $620,000 of Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning funding and support from local councils, committees of management and community groups.

The works have been undertaken on public and private land over the last two years, following the 2018 fires which burnt more than 40,000 hectares.

One of the final projects to be completed was aerial seeding in April at Lake Cobrico, a swamp wildlife reserve near Camperdown.

Due to concerns that the lake’s ecosystem might not be able to regenerate naturally after the high-intensity fires, drones were used to distribute 32 kilograms of native seeds over 40 hectares of the burnt lake bed.

The drones released the seeds from two to three metres above the ground, avoiding the need for hand seeding which would have further disturbed the fragile terrain. Technology company XAG conducted the work, supported by Heytesbury District Landcare Network (HDLN).

Over the next six months HDLN will monitor the results with aerial surveys, comparing the regrowth in sections that have undergone aerial seeding to areas that have been left to revegetate naturally.

Other projects in the fire recovery program have included the rehabilitation of nearly six kilometres of trenches that were dug at Lake Cobrico and Lake Elingamite to stop the run of peat fires, and the removal of burnt and hazardous trees along the Camperdown Timboon Rail Trail.

Works also included weed control in areas around Cobden and Camperdown to encourage the regrowth of native species, water quality monitoring at Lake Cobrico and Lake Elingamite, repair of tracks that were damaged in the fire attack and installation of fencing to prevent farm stock from damaging fire-impacted land.  

Quotes attributable to FFMVic Otway District Manager David Roberts:

“This has been a big program of works across many sites that were initially dangerous and inaccessible following the fires that swept through the region.”

“The revegetation of public and private land is not only crucial for the health of the local environment, but the wellbeing of communities impacted by the fires. Although the formal fire recovery program has been completed, we’ll continue to look for ways to support fire-affected communities as they continue their own recovery journeys.”

Quotes attributable to HDLN Coordinator Geoff Rollinson:

“We’re hoping that Lake Cobrico will be given a new lease of life, following the innovative aerial seeding work that distributed a blend of 12 different native seeds.”  

“It’s expected that the regrowth will lead to more wildlife in the area, providing food, harbour and shelter for a range of birdlife, as well as other animals such as kangaroos and wallabies.”

Page last updated: 27/07/20