Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund Projects in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour

The Australian and NSW Government’s are supporting the recovery of bushfire impacted communities through a range of funding programs that support local and regional economic and social recovery – including initiatives across economic, social, built and natural environment recovery. Through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (BLERF) Envite have supported communities in the Coffs Harbour and Clarence LGA to recover both economically and socially from the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Two projects “Environmental recovery in Clarence Valley” and “Coffs Coastal Access Repair and Asset Protection Zone Environmental Resilience Improvements” have been designed to provide local youth with employment, training and skill development in Conservation and Ecosystem Management. Between 2021-23 four stages of groups of four entry level environmental workers were employed for approximately 6 month programs, providing opportunity for our next generation of workers.

The teams were involved in land management and strategic program activities including landscaping, environmental rehabilitation, improving natural environment and amenity maintaining the stability of ecosystem processes. The programs improved local employment opportunities with an entry pathway into a growing agriculture, conservation and land management industry in the Clarence and Coffs Coast area. It was aimed to improve ongoing employment opportunities through local community, industry support and effectively developing trainee’s skills and work experience increasing their chances of obtaining ongoing work and transferable skills in the industry within the Coffs and Clarence Valley regions.

East Gippsland School-based Traineeships Program

Youth disengagement in East Gippsland was exacerbated by the 2019/20 bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic, and stands to have lasting negative impacts on community recovery, capacity and wellbeing. As of November 2021, the Gippsland region had the highest rates of disengaged youth in Victoria. One in five (19%) young people aged 18-24 were not engaged in formal work or study, and youth unemployment is on the increase. Moreover, Gippsland has higher early school leaver rates and lower levels of higher education attainment than the Victorian average.  

Fewer tertiary education and vocational training opportunities, poor transport infrastructure, social disadvantage, and inter-generational unemployment contribute to heightened youth disengagement in East Gippsland’s remote communities, such as Swifts Creek, Orbost, Cann River and Mallacoota. Furthermore, the winding down of native forest logging in the region has, and continues to, lead to a loss of rural employment opportunities.

Young people who lack clear pathways to employment in their communities, have few incentives to stay local, or to attend and complete school. There is a pressing need to create novel skills development and employment pathways that engage and improve the future prospects of young people living in East Gippsland’s remote regional communities. 

In 2022, Envite and partners pioneered a novel school-based traineeship program that simultaneously addresses youth disengagement while building community capacity and support for bushfire recovery in East Gippsland.  

Harnessing Genetics to Restore Threatened Flora Resilience

East Gippsland, Victoria, is unique in terms its natural environments and biodiversity. Approximately three quarters of the land area comprises national parks and other public land reserves, and there are 125 species that rely on East Gippsland for 50-100% of their recorded range. Thirty percent of these species occur nowhere else on Earth. 

Despite the importance of East Gippsland for biodiversity, surprisingly little environmental research has been undertaken in support of on-ground efforts to conserve, maintain and restore species and ecosystems in the region. Over 100 plant species in East Gippsland are listed as vulnerable or endangered at the national- or state-level, while the status of a further 90 remains uncertain. Many of these plants exist as small and/or localised populations and, for a great majority, their known distributions were severely burnt in the 2019/20 bushfires. 

Community-led Recovery of the Gippsland Banksia and Betka Bottlebrush

The Gippsland Banksia (Banksia croajingolensis) is known only from a single drainage line South of Shipwreck Creek in the Croajingolong National Park, a site that was severely burnt in the 2019/2020 megafires. Very little is known about the biology of B. croajingolensis. There is even a question about its origin, with Flora of Victoria suggesting that it may be a hybrid between other species with which it co-occurs. 

The Betka Bottlebrush (Callistemon kenmorrisonii) is one of a handful of rare and endemic Callistemons restricted to Far East Gippsland. C. kenmorrisonii is only known from two small populations growing on granite rock bars along the upper Betka River, one where the river intersects Stony Peak Road and one at Roger Track, in Wingan State Forest. Both populations were severely burned in the 2019/2020 Black Summer Bushfires, and have since also been impacted by numerous flooding events following abnormally high rainfall in the years following the fires. There are unanswered questions as to the origin of C. kenmorrisonii, with suggestions that the species may be a hybrid swarm involving C. citrinus and C. subulatus. 

Southern Pink Underwing Moth Habitat Restoration

The Southern Pink Underwing Moth (Phyllodes imperialis smithersi) and its food plant Carronia multisepalea stronghold occurs in critically endangered Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia the Northern Rivers regions of NSW.

This project supports professional bush regenerators to systematically control weeds degrading rainforest at 11 sites where Carronia multisepalea and Southern Pink Underwing Moth larva are known to occur.

Project partners include NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Traditional Owners, Rous County Council, Big Scrub Landcare and the local community.

Project sites are areas of high biodiversity and conservation significance including World Heritage listed Nightcap National Park  and Big Scrub Rainforest remnants.

Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund: Bungawalbin Community Bushfire Recovery

The bushfires of 2019-2020 burnt through almost the entire Bungwalbin area in Richmond Valley LGA devastating the local community and habitat for threatened species and ecological communities.


The Bungawalbin Community Bushfire Recovery Project is supporting ecological restoration, employment and strengthening community resilience through implementation of bushfire recovery activities across public and private land.  The project involves a partnership between the local community, Bungawalbin Landcare, Bandjalang Traditional Owners and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.