SA task force reports on bushfire response

Much of the western half of Kangaroo Island was burnt out during the bushfires in SA.
Much of the western half of Kangaroo Island was burnt out during the bushfires in SA.

More funding to boost research on climate and more cash for immediate recovery efforts are among key recommendations from South Australia's bushfire recovery task force.

The task force was established after SA's devastating bushfires during the 2019/20 summer to provide advice and insights to support recovery planning and actions.

Those fires burnt out almost 285,000 hectares across the state, including much of the western half of Kangaroo Island.

In relation to climate change, the task force found there was research and knowledge gaps in relation to the causes and extent of fires that had the potential to impact on the risk of future events and how best to respond.

"This is particularly relevant in the context of changing climate, changing fire conditions and changing fire behaviours," its said in its report.

"There is now an opportunity to establish a well-organised, long-term monitoring and planning program to manage the ecological impacts of future bushfires.

"The lack of long-term coordinated studies on past fire behaviour has cost valuable insights into how wildlife and environments recover and how ecological resilience should be measured and managed in a changing climate."

In other recommendations, the task force proposed the creation of a database to allow for rapid risk and impact assessments for wildlife and habitat recovery following bushfires and other disasters.

It also proposed that clear guidelines, training and support be established to manage native vegetation during the immediate aftermath of a fire and to assist in long-term habitat recovery.

Task force chairwoman Felicity-ann Lewis said the recommendations would inform planning for the recovery of wildlife, habitats and ecosystems after bushfires.

"The recommendations were developed with extensive and highly valuable input from many South Australian experts," she said.

"This allowed it to develop a systematic and comprehensive set of recommendations across a broad range of issues relating to bushfires and wildlife recovery."

Environment Minister David Speirs said the government was considering its response to the recommendations.

Australian Associated Press