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Park management

Bushfire recovery

Bushfire recovery

South Australia’s recent bushfires have burnt over 90,000 hectares of national park land resulting in the closure of multiple parks on Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills until future notice. 

On 6 February the Kangaroo Island fire zone was declared safe by the CFS, which marks all bushfire-affected areas in South Australia as now safe. 

National Parks and Wildlife Service SA (NPWSSA) are making daily assessments of the parks and are working to provide public access as soon as possible. 

The western end of Kangaroo Island, home to the internationally renowned Flinders Chase National Park, was heavily affected by the bushfires — about 96 per cent of Flinders Chase and the adjoining Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area was burnt, and all of Kelly Hill Conservation Park

The Rocky River visitor precinct has been destroyed, including the visitor centre, housing, campground and other accommodation. The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and supporting infrastructure has been lost too. 

Although the iconic Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island was severely affected by the bushfires, the park’s Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and Lighthouse Keepers Cottages were saved. Admiral’s Arch, a famous home to a colony of long-nosed fur seals was also unaffected. 

Heritage cottages and buildings at Cape Borda Lightstation were saved. Remarkable Rocks have not been damaged, but the nearby boardwalk and visitor facilities have been destroyed.

Which parks are open? 

Most Adelaide Hills parks are unaffected and remain open. 

The following NPWSSA-managed Kangaroo Island parks are open:

Download the National Parks of Kangaroo Island Visitor Guide: February 2020 to help plan your trip.

Which parks are closed?

The following NPWSSA-managed Kangaroo Island parks are closed until further notice:

The following NPWSSA-managed Adelaide Hills parks are closed until further notice:

  • Porter Scrub Conservation Park
  • Charleston Conservation Park

The following NPWSSA-managed Limestone coast parks are closed until further notice:

  • Bunbury Conservation Park
  • Carcuma Conservation Park

See the closures and alerts page for up to date information.

When will these parks reopen?

Currently closed parks will reopen as soon as it is safe and practicable to do so.

Can I visit Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills? 

Now more than ever, our beautiful Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island regions need your support.

Tourism is vital for these regional economies to rebuild after bushfires.

We encourage you to join the South Australian Tourism Commission’s campaign to #BookThemOut

Tour with a local guide, meet the wildlife, buy the local produce, spirits and wine and stay a few nights. 

Visit southaustralia.com to plan and book your trip.

Download the National Parks of Kangaroo Island Visitor Guide: February 2020 to help plan your trip.

What is the impact on wildlife? 

The exact number of native animals affected by the bushfires is difficult to quantify and yet to be confirmed through modelling estimates and on-ground surveys. 

Thousands of hectares of native habitat have been lost and animals have perished. Several endangered species have been severely affected. 

Some of the more widespread, abundant and mobile species, such as koalas, kangaroos and wallabies, have suffered significant mortalities, but their populations are expected to recover as the habitat recovers. 

Work is underway to help affected species, ranging from rapid assessment surveys and native animal relocations, to the control of feral animals like cats, goats and pigs. 

The South Australian Department for Environment and Water with advice from the Wildlife and Habitat Recovery Taskforce is developing a comprehensive wildlife and habitat Recovery Plan with the assistance of conservation and rescue organisations, as well as other community and volunteer groups.

What should I do if I see injured wildlife? 

If you come across injured wildlife on Kangaroo Island contact Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network on 0477 334 898. To help wildlife after a bushfire you can:

  • Leave shallow bowls of water out for animals and birds. Add a few sticks or stones on one side to allow smaller animals to escape if they fall in. 
  • Look after any remaining native vegetation and remove any feral animals and weeds from the landscape to help re-establish the native habitat.

You can help bushfire-affected wildlife by learning what sorts of food are suitable for them.

What is NPWSSA doing?

We have already taken action to support park and wildlife recovery, including:

  • Wildlife Recovery Fund
    The Wildlife Recovery Fund is a partnership between National Parks and Wildlife Service SA and Nature Foundation SA to assist with the recovery and restoration of flora and fauna, particularly re-establishing habitat for wildlife in the state’s bushfire-ravaged regions.

    Donate to Wildlife Recovery fund
  • Creation of the Wildlife and Habitat Recovery Taskforce
    The Wildlife and Habitat Recovery Taskforce has been established to provide advice on the coordination of activities to benefit wildlife and habitat recovery. While many community groups mobilised to care for injured wildlife, the taskforce will also focus on the effort to re-establish habitat, particularly for the most endangered and vulnerable species.
  • Developing a Recovery Plan
    The South Australian Department for Environment and Water with advice from the Wildlife and Habitat Recovery Taskforce is developing a comprehensive wildlife and habitat Recovery Plan with the assistance of conservation and rescue organisations, as well as other community and volunteer groups.
  • Cameras to monitor wildlife
    Cameras have been installed in unburnt areas of Kangaroo Island to monitor wildlife. Once it’s known what has survived, options can be considered for how to protect these species by building shelters, setting up artificial nesting boxes to support bird breeding, and installing fencing to help control predators. Breeding programs might be investigated for critical species, though breeding in captivity can be difficult for some species.
  • Food drops
    Aerial food drops are being made in combination with land-based drops to help animals survive, while the burnt environment regenerates naturally and grasses grow to provide food. While the usual recommendation is not to feed wildlife, the scale and intensity of the bushfires on Kangaroo Island meant that surviving native animals have very few options.
  • Translocation of Kangaroo Island koalas to Cleland Wildlife Park
    In a partnership between Kangaroo Island’s Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Adelaide’s Cleland Wildlife Park, koalas have been transferred to Cleland Wildlife Park to prevent them from dying of starvation and to help establish this special population on mainland South Australia.

How can I help?

Donate to the Wildlife Recovery Fund

The Wildlife Recovery Fund is a partnership between National Parks and Wildlife Service SA and Nature Foundation SA to assist with the recovery and restoration of flora and fauna, particularly re-establishing habitat for wildlife in the state’s bushfire-ravaged regions. 

News

More information

Downloadable fact sheets

SA fire and disaster recovery

Visit www.dhs.sa.gov.au/recovery for the latest state recovery information. If you are not able to access the website please call the Bushfire Recovery Hotline on 1800 302 787.

The recovery of South Australia’s national parks and reserves is ongoing. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

 *Page last updated: February 18, 2020