Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs
The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon
With green shoots and regrowth already appearing in affected areas, Queensland Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon has visited K’gari (Fraser Island) as recovery work led by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) gets underway.
The Minister inspected recovery efforts on the island and also led a discussion with the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation about the Palaszczuk Government’s $4.8M investment in a new cultural tourism offering with camping at Central Station.
A special unit led by the Department of Environment and Science has been established to coordinate and plan the recovery response on the island following a bushfire allegedly sparked by an illegal campfire.
The Minister’s visit to K’gari follows a joint investigation by Queensland Police and QPWS which has led to four people being charged on 22 December 2020 with unlawfully lighting fires on K’gari.
Unlawfully lighting a fire and failing to extinguish a campfire carry penalties of up to $22,019.
The recovery response work has so far included removing debris from walking tracks and roads and is now examining the impacts of the bushfires on K’gari’s key sites, cultural values, infrastructure, flora and fauna. DES ecologists and representatives from the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation (BAC) began on-ground assessments this week (22 December 2020).
Minister Scanlon said that she was grateful for the hard work of QPWS rangers who worked not only to contain the fire, but in their recovery efforts.
“QPWS rangers have worked hand in hand with QFES and the Butchulla people since the week of the fire’s outbreak,” said Minister Scanlon.
“It is a testament to the huge efforts of the multi-agency approach that no lives were lost, and no infrastructure has been reported as damaged.
“I know that K’gari is a very special place to so many, which is why I’m really pleased to see green shoots already coming through in fire-affected areas.
“I’m happy to say that there have also been birds, reptiles and wongari (dingoes) observed both in burnt and unburnt areas, which indicates no significant loss of animal life.”
Member for Hervey Bay Adrian Tantari welcomed the Minister to the region.
“We know that so many people love to visit our special part of the world, and I’m pleased to see the recovery is progressing well,” said Mr Tantari.
“On top of that, I know that the new cultural tourism offering on K’gari is an exciting project with early works planned and budgeted for.
“The Palaszczuk Government has been very clear that our ongoing plan for economic recovery and job creation, following our strong health response to the coronavirus pandemic, includes investment in projects like the Central Station upgrade that will drive tourism and business opportunities.”
Rangers have conducted comprehensive desktop assessments of the potential impacts of the bushfires by using heat and fire maps along with historical flora and fauna records.
QPWS wildlife officers, the SEQ Wildlife Hospital Network, specialist veterinary teams and volunteer carers remain on standby if any significant wildlife impacts are detected or reported.
K’gari’s plant species are well adapted to fire and rangers on the island are reporting amazing regrowth and green shoots in fire-affected areas.
Acoustic sensors and trail cameras are being deployed to evaluate the status and recovery of native animals, and rangers will assist the BAC to assess the cultural impact.
Media contact: Sue Lappeman 0418 792 406