After the catastrophe: a blueprint for a conservation response to large-scale ecological disaster

Date: 21, Jan, 2020
Author(s):   Chris Dickman, Don Driscoll, Stephen Garnett, David Keith, Sarah Legge, David Lindenmayer, Martine Maron, April Reside, Euan Ritchie, James Watson, Brendan Wintle, John Woinarski
Publisher: TSR Hub

Bad things happen. Sometimes they happen suddenly, at enormous scale, and without comparable precedent. The chain of wildfires afflicting Australia in 2019-20, and continuing, is such an example. With escalating global climate change, such large-scale ecological catastrophes are likely to become more widespread and frequent. Here, we describe a blueprint for conservation responses to these wildfires, to document the challenge and attempted solutions to this particular event and as a potential template for dealing with comparable future events. The purpose of this document is to frame a comprehensive set of linked responses to large-scale impacts for conservation across immediate to longer time frames, in order to best achieve the recovery of affected species, ecosystems and ecological health. It is not an attempt to assess the conservation consequences of this chain of fires, or to investigate the causes of the fires. Such assessments will be conducted by others in due course. Here, we describe what was done, what could have been done, and what still needs to be done. The challenge of environmental recovery is substantial and complex, and recovery can be interpreted in many ways. To make the task as tractable and well directed as possible, considered and explicit target setting, at short-, medium- and long-term intervals, and across varying spatial scales, is desirable, with monitoring reporting regularly on progress towards those targets.