On the road to recovery
Corryong sheep farmer Stephen Hill began 2020 hastily preparing his property ahead as a fast-moving bushfire approached.
But a lot can change in 12 months. A year later, he welcomed 2021 to the soothing sound of rain falling on his tin roof.
Stephen owns and operates a sheep grazing property near Corryong in Victoria’s North East. As well as running a farming operation, in 2006 he protected 88 ha of remnant vegetation on his property with a conservation covenant, thereby protecting the property even when it changes hands.
Like so many in the area during the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, Stephen’s farming operation was significantly impacted and the vegetation on his covenanted land was severely burnt.
“The fire was pretty devastating and the property won’t bounce back overnight,” he said.
But one year on the landscape is looking different. A healthy green is returning to pastures and the eucalypts are sprouting epicormic shoots. Over time and with assistance this healing will continue.
“Life can move forward after a traumatic event and the environment is starting to reflect this,” Stephen said.
“You don’t remember the real awful stuff, perhaps that’s the brain’s way of dealing with it.”
Trust for Nature is working with Stephen, and other bushfire-impacted landholders who have conservation covenants, to aid the long-term management of the covenant. Through a partnership with the North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA), Stephen will receive assistance to replace the fences on the covenanted areas.
“Any funding help is invaluable, there is a lot of things to address but there is only so much money to address it with,” Stephen said.
“Stephen’s site is a fantastic example of the assistance that Trust for Nature has been able to offer bushfire-impacted landholders with conservation covenants within the North East,” said North East Conservation Officer Shae Brennan.
Trust for Nature is committed to continue working with Stephen, along with many other landholders, to ensure that Victoria’s natural environment is healthy, valued and actively cared for.
Stephen has some encouraging words for landholders thinking about putting a covenant on their land.
“An age old problem is that we’re all born with finite time and by establishing a conservation covenant you’ll be leaving a bit of a legacy…. There is nothing to be lost and plenty to be gained,” he said.
Bushfire recovery works are supported by the North East CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery package for wildlife and their habitat.
Contact North East Conservation Officer Shae Brennan for further information on bushfire recovery programs on 0447 001 434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Whitmore, Communications Coordinator, Trust for Nature, 0450 653 811, email@example.com