A BENDIGO expert is calling for further action to help native animal species recover from the 2019/20 bushfires, as research shows almost 50 could be listed as threatened.
La Trobe University Research Centre for Future Landscapes ecologist Dr Jim Radford was part of a collaborative study into the impact of the fires on native wildlife.
The study, led by the University of Queensland, identified 70 species that lost more than 30 per cent of their habitat to the fires.
Among them were 21 threatened species.
The study also identified 49 species that might warrant assessment for listing under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Having all 49 species approved would be equivalent to bumping up the national threatened species list by 14 per cent - a "massive" hit to take in one summer, Dr Radford said.
"The single most important recovery action we can take is to protect unburnt refuges that may be supporting threatened species and species that have been heavily impacted by the fires," he said.
"We urgently need on-ground surveys to assess where species are hanging on, and then proactive management of threats such as feral predators, feral herbivores and weeds.
"It is also critical to reduce disturbances, such as logging and further fires, in both unburnt and burnt habitat to increase the chances of survival for species hit hard by these fires."
Dr Radford said it was "beyond question" that adding another disturbance or threatening process into refugia while species were trying to recover from the impact of fires would have a detrimental impact on those species.
"What isn't beyond question is whether that's something society wants to do," he said.
"Society may value the native timber that's taken from those forests more than the ecology and the ecosystems and keeping those in a good condition."
There were alternatives for securing timber, but Dr Radford those were questions for the timber industry.
"As scientists, our role is to point out what the impact of different options and scenarios for society will be," he said.
He said the impact of the 2019/20 bushfires would be felt for many years to come.
"And if we do want to see species like the Long-footed Potoroo, the Greater Glider, the Southern Corroboree Frogs... then that's a value judgement society needs to make and we need to manage the refuge habitat for these species in the short-term and we need to manage our wild areas for them in the long-term."
Dr Radford said work to identify refugia was already underway, to a certain extent.
"In some cases community groups are doing that, in other cases it's being led by government," he said.
He believed there was scope for further rapid assessments.
The 97,000 square kilometres of southern and eastern Australian vegetation burnt in the fires was habitat for at least 832 native animal species, the study's lead author, UQ School of Earth and Environmental sciences PhD candidate Michelle Ward, said.
Drought, disease, habitat destruction and invasive species meant many of the species were already declining in numbers.
"Our research shows these mega-fires may have made the situation much worse by reducing population sizes, reducing food sources and rendering habitat unsuitable for many years," Ms Ward said.
"We need to learn from these events as they are likely to happen again."
The research team consisted of 24 scientists.
Organisations involved included the Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Sydney, James Cook University, The Nature Conservancy, BirdLife Australia, Charles Darwin University, Australian National University, CSIRO, Charles Sturt University and Macquarie University.
The team's findings are being published in the journal of Nature Ecology and Evolution.
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