Australian Bushfire Crisis: Impacts and How to Help

The 2019 Australian bushfires have been burning since October 2019. It has been reported that in NSW alone, almost 5 million hectares of land have been burned. In total, it is estimated that at least 10 million hectares have been burned across Australia. So far, there have been 25 casualties, including volunteer firefighters who gave up their Christmas and New Year holidays to assist with battling the fires. 

The bushfire crisis across Australia has been the topic of all news articles, social media posts and traditional media. I, personally, can’t describe how painful it is to see this disaster so many times in a day. 

Agriculture Impact:

There has been devastating and heartbreaking images from news articles of at least a hundred thousand dead cattle, sheep and cows from the fire. The farms impacted are mostly struggling with drought as well. The total loss can’t be identified at the moment. This damage can cause impacts on food supplies across the country and the survival of the farmers affected. Distribution of supplies are also impacted due to road closures. There has been a lack of produce stock at Australian supermarket giants, Woolworths and Coles. 

Beekeepers have been heavily impacted by this crisis. Many commercial beekeepers has lost many of their hives and are struggling to start over. It has been a tough year over all especially with the drought last 2019. Due to the loss of trees from fires, it can take years for agriculture to rebuild and restart production of food, dairy and honey. Honey production relies on bees collecting nectar and pollen. Without plants and trees, bees has nothing to collect to produce honey. 

Health Impact: 

Due to ongoing fires, a thick layer of smoke had subjected the skies for a few days seen at Sydney and Melbourne and Canberra obtaining the record of the worst air quality in the world. This imposes health risks for people who suffer health issues such as asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Air pollution caused by bushfires presents threat to your lungs due to airborne particles that are small enough to enter your lungs through inhalation. There have been news reports about deaths related to asthma and other respiratory problems due to the thick smoke overlay. No one is safe and if you are within the vicinity of the smog area, please wear masks. 

Wildlife Extinction:

Experts have estimated the amount of wildlife that was killed during this mega-bushfire season is around 1.25 billion. Unique Australian species such as the koalas and kangaroos are severely affected. This was heightened when Kangaroo Island in South Australia has been experiencing ongoing deadly fires as of today. It is believed that Kangaroo Island is home to iconic Australian species such as wallabies, gliders, potoroos, cockatoos and honey eaters. It’s also home to the last pure bred Ligurian Bees and disease-free koalas. 

Ligurian Queen Bees Owner Stephen Heatley has lost 40 of his lives in the fires but assumes that he may have lost up to 500 hives in total. Ligurian honeybees are Italian bees that arrived in Australia around the 1800’s. Since then their population grew which has led the South Australian government to declare the island as a sanctuary for the bee species. However, it is not yet distinguished if all species have perished. 

How and Where to Help:

In times of crisis like this, it is so nice to see the power of people coming together. There are so many initiatives around to rescue and cure wildlife that are suffering from burns, beekeepers who lost their hives, people who lost their homes and firefighters that are in dire need of resources to help combat this battle. Below are links to charities, not-for-profit organisations and causes that can help aid the ones that were affected by the bushfires: 

Bush Fire Victims:

Red Cross Australia

https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-donate

Salvation Army

https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/donate/make-a-donation/donate-online/?appeal=disasterappeal

Givit

http://www.givit.org.au/disasters

Kangaroo Island Bushfire Fund

https://www.kangarooisland.sa.gov.au/notice-board/latest-news/ki-mayoral-relief-and-recovery-bushfire-fund

Volunteer Firefighters:

NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades

https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity/3fa2a436e549c7e5c931ae6b5a110178?fbclid=IwAR3KIGkCRxjIdGPIClTLtHhLRhXxymrVnDyjSx8ZpSAAch1SZZXeCN_4kbw

Victorian Firefighters

https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa#donate-cfa

WA Bushfire Brigades

https://www.bushfire.org.au/shop/

National

https://www.facebook.com/donate/1010958179269977/10157671223743418

Wildlife

WIRES (NSW only)

https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund

Wildlife Victoria

https://www.wildlifevictoria.org.au/

WWF – Help Save Koalas Fund

https://donate.wwf.org.au/donate/koala-crisis/koala-crisis?t=AP1119W03

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-thirsty-koalas-devastated-by-recent-fires

Australian Koala Foundation

https://www.savethekoala.com/donate

One Tree Planted

https://onetreeplanted.org

Native Animal Rescue

Affected Beekeepers:

Rural Aid: HiveAid

Save The Bees Australia Fundraiser

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-beekeepers-affected-by-fire

References:

Chang, Charis. 2019. ” How the 2019 Australian bushfire season compares to other fire disasters”. https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/how-the-2019-australian-bushfire-season-compares-to-other-fire-disasters/news-story/7924ce9c58b5d2f435d0ed73ffe34174

McCaulay, Dana. 2019. “Health impacts of bushfires won’t be known for years, experts say”. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/health-impacts-of-bushfires-won-t-be-known-for-years-experts-say-20200106-p53p87.html

Bell, Sarah Jane. 2020. “Farmers impacted by bushfires count ‘heartbreaking’ cost as livestock losses climb”. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-07/farmers-recount-heartbreaking-toll-of-bushfire-livestock-losses/11844696

Woolley, Summer. 2020. “Fires push native endangered species closer to extinction, wildlife experts say”. https://7news.com.au/news/bushfires/fires-push-native-endangered-species-closer-to-extinction-wildlife-experts-say-c-639736

Brown, Emily. 2020. “Before And After Photos Show Devastating Impact Of Australian Bushfires On Kangaroo Island”. https://www.unilad.co.uk/life/before-and-after-photos-show-devastating-impact-of-australian-bushfires-on-kangaroo-island/