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.

Community Conservation of the Emu in the Bungawalbin Stage 2

The emu population in the NSW North Coast bioregion is endangered with likely less than 50 individuals remaining. Threats include extinctions caused by habitat fragmentation and isolated populations. Degradation of habitat by weeds (blocking movement of emus) and impacts of fires have contributed to recent range contraction and declines in abundance.  Predation by feral dogs, pigs and foxes is a major threat.  Vehicle strike has also been a major source of death on the NSW North Coast.

Recovery actions being addressed include restoring emu habitat through systematic weed control; vertebrate pest control and raising awareness of emu conservation and managing threats to increase participation in emu protection. The project involves a partnership between Envite Environment and Minyumai Indigenous bush regenerators. The two teams work together to restore emu habitat across NSW National Parks Reserves and private properties in the Bungawalbin area.

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. 

Restoring Nutritional Landscapes

Disturbance from logging and fire has drastically altered forest distribution and composition in south-eastern Australia, leading to widespread loss of ecological function and biodiversity. In Victoria alone, 115,000 ha of known or likely threatened species habitat was logged from 2005-2020. Silvertop Ash (Eucalyptus sieberi) is a disturbance-adapted native eucalypt species that is increasingly dominating these areas. Unfortunately, Silvertop has high levels of herbivore deterring toxins and is a poor-quality food source for Australia’s most iconic eucalyptus leaf-eating mammals, greater gliders (Petauroides volans) and koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). In addition to decreasing the nutritional quality of forests for these animals, disturbance-related proliferation of Silvertop Ash is causing substantial reductions in overall biodiversity and landscape resilience. 

In 2021, Envite partnered with the Australian National University (ANU) on an ambitious project aiming to reverse the cumulative impacts of logging and fire on eucalyptus tree species diversity in East Gippsland forests, with a focus on restoring and improving greater glider habitat. Together, we established a series of forty 0.25 ha experimental plots (10 ha in total) to develop and refine methods for future upscaling across the landscape, using a previously logged (~3 years prior) Immediate Protection Area that burned in the 2019/20 bushfires as a case study.  

The methods being trialed include: 

  • Ecological thinning of Silvertop Ash; 
  • Silvertop thinning plus supplementary seeding of more diverse, locally appropriate eucalyptus tree species with a focus on improving the nutritional landscape for greater gliders; 
  • Thinning and supplementary planting of the same, locally-appropriate eucalyptus tree species; and
  • Control sites with no intervention, used to assess the efficacy of our actions against ‘business as usual’. 

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.