The Green Shoots program was developed in response to the Tathra and Districts Bushfire event in March 2018. Council recognised very soon after the event that the intensity of the fire had impacted the surrounding landscape in a way that presented some unique risks and challenges to the environment. Tathra’s district is made up of an intricate network of high ridges and steep gullies draining into the Bega river estuary and Tathra township. The estuary contains a unique system of sensitive wetlands and is a haven for wildlife as well as recreational fisherman and tourists. The high ridges and ground were badly scolded in the fire leaving no vegetative cover exposing the land to potentially significant soil and sediment loss from gully and sheet erosion. This could have resulting in significant impacts on the waterways and the Tathra township altering the local hydrology and devastating the unique wetland habitats. Council was also cognisant of the fact that significant storm events (east coast lows) can occur during late autumn and early winter which added to the urgency of a situation.
Recognising these issues, in the proceeding weeks Council in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) engaged the expertise of the Soil Conservation Service who undertook a rapid risk assessment, developing an Erosion Control Plan which made recommendations on how best to address the environmental issues. Finding any funding to support actions from the Erosion Control Plan proved difficult through the disaster response framework. In the absence of any funding Council collaborated with several other agencies and local groups and resolved to find a way forward that was considerably paired back from the original Erosion Control Plan. In the process the Green shoots program was conceived by Council as the umbrella program for all environmental/community restoration works. Council in partnership with South East Local Land Services, Bega Local Aboriginal Land Council (Bega LALC) and local contractors and with guidance from the Soil Conservation Service Erosion Control Plan developed cheap, low technology solutions that were quickly deployed across multiple tenures in the landscape. This included such things as the installation of straw bale and coir log checks in gullies, placement of fallen logs across steep slopes and the installation of sediment fences in strategic locations. The Koori Work Crew through Bega LALC played a key role in the successful deployment of these structures across vast areas of land in what was very rugged and difficult terrain. These activities were also backed up and complemented with community events involving revegetation and seeding activities with Tathra Landcare, Far South Coast Landcare Association, and numerous other individuals from the local community. The Tathra Headland provided the main focal point for the community driven restoration activities. These activities were supported with limited funding from Crown lands, South East Local Land Services and Councils Environment Levy.
The program provided a positive focus and led a response that provided hope for the community which was devasted by the fire. Through focusing on environmental restoration and fire recovery the program resulted in strong collaboration between different government agencies, organisations, community groups and individuals - bringing communities together. Importantly, the program allowed the community to get involved in the restoration and recovery process to help build moral and engage fire affected people and as well as other members of the community who wanted to support the recovery effort in a positive way. The program also demonstrated the importance of environmental restoration as a part of the communities psychological recovery from a disaster.
The program continues to monitor the restoration of the natural areas and aid its recovery through strategic weed control, revegetation and re-deployment of erosion and sediment control devices.
The program has achieved the following to date;
Funding was provided by;
This project is connect to Council's Community Strategic Plan through Outcome 3, Goal 5 and Outcome 4, Goal 8.
Environment and Sustainability Services
Bega Valley Shire Council
Phone: (02) 6499 2222