Farmers and landholders, Sorell/Tasman

Farmers continue to rebuild more than a year after bushfire

At the end of 2012 and into 2013, Tasmania’s terrible bushfires affected farmers and landholders in the Derwent Valley, Tasman Peninsula and Sorell as the fires threatened their homes and impacted on their livelihoods.

We were proud when the rest of Tasmania responded. But for farmers, whose properties were burnt in the fires, the rebuilding of their properties and livelihoods has continued well into 2014.

NRM South, and a range of partner organisations, worked on the ground to support farmers with recovery on their properties and delivered a Farm Bushfire Recovery program which included a total of $380,000 provided by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments.

Dunalley farmer Matt Dunbabin owns a 6,000 hectare property south of Dunalley on the Forestier Peninsula. A third of Mr Dunbabin’s property was burnt in the fires including 30 kilometres of boundary and internal fencing on the farm.

“Our business is grazing and losing 30 kilometres of fencing was a blow. Fences are an important part in the management of stock and the property. While there was a lot to do, it was essential last year we got these fences back up quickly to help manage the property. The funds from NRM South helped offset our fencing materials which helped get our stock under control and assisted with bushland and animal management.”

Mr Dunbabin’s runs cattle and sheep on his property, it contains bushland (much of which was burnt during the fires) and a vineyard. Mr Dunbabin says there is still recovery work to be done and he is still understanding the affects that fire will have on the business in the long term.

“We’re discovering some surprising aspects of the fire damage. Now our fencing is under control we’re starting to look at things like wind effects on the vineyard. While we got most of the fencing up by the end of last year, there’s still a bit to do and it will take some time before we know the long term effects of the fire.”

NRM South’s Regional Landcare Facilitator Ken Moore led NRM South’s bushfire recovery program, says it was great to be able to lend a hand to farmers when it was needed.

“Since March 2013, we delivered grants of up to $10,000 to 31 properties of varying sizes and across Derwent Valley, Tasman Peninsula and Sorell regions.

“In many cases, farmers lost hundreds of kilometres of fencing, crops and pasture were burnt exposing soils to erosion and many paddock and shelter belt trees were killed. The impact of the bushfires has been ongoing. This includes re-fencing which is costly, burnt ground that is hard to rehabilitate with pasture and exposed soils that continue to be affected by weeds and wind and soil erosion.

“NRM South’s grants assisted farmers with farm recovery planning, technical advice and on-ground works to rebuild internal fences, control weeds, replant shelter belts and manage soil erosion.

“We also held a field day where farmers whose properties were affected were able to share ideas about recovery. This proved valuable as both a means of support and a way to share ideas,” Ken Moore explained.

“While are funding has been distributed, many of the farmers like Mr Dunbabin, still have a lot of work to do and our commitment to our farmers and their contribution to the community and the economy will continue.”

The funds included $150,000 from the Australian Government provided in March 2013, $80,000 provided by the Tasmanian Government in June 2013 and a final $150,000 from the Australian Government to ensure the program continued to deliver results into 2014.

The program was funded by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and delivery of the program was made possible through the Derwent Catchment NRM Committee, the Tasman Landcare Group, Dunalley, Weed Aid, the Huon Valley Council, Glamorgan Spring Bay Council and the Department of Economic Development Tourism and the Arts.

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