- Date: January 13, 2020
Australia is being ravaged by devastating bushfires, the likes of which the nation has never seen. Fueled by record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought, these massive bushfires have burned more than 26.4 million acres—an area nearly as large as the state of Virginia—as of January 27.
Dozens of people—including several volunteer firefighters—have died. Thousands of homes, livelihoods, and buildings have been destroyed. Estimates suggest that more than 1.25 billion animals may have been killed directly or indirectly from the fires. This loss includes thousands of koalas and other iconic animals, such as kangaroos, wallabies, gliders, potoroos, cockatoos, and honeyeaters.
Many forests will take decades to recover and the crisis is potentially pushing some animals closer to the brink of extinction. Until the fires subside, we won’t know the full extent of the damage.
Why are the fires so devastating?
The climate crisis does not cause bushfires, but it does make them worse. This season’s bushfire catastrophe is far from normal.
Australia has been experiencing more frequent and intense heatwaves and prolonged dry periods that have created tinder box conditions. And global warming is making droughts and fires hotter and more frequent this season.
We must all do our part to protect our world from climate disaster; failure to act will make extreme weather standard, with deadly consequences for people and nature.
What WWF is doing
Over the last 40 years WWF has worked on species conservation and habitat and landscape management across Australia, in partnership with traditional owners, communities, nonprofits, scientists, businesses, and governments. Over the coming weeks, months, and years, we will work together to:
· Address immediate needs. WWF is responding to the urgent needs of partners dealing directly with fire impacts, including wildlife response organizations, communities, and scientists. Activities change daily but include providing extensive care to injured koalas and other species.
· Recover critical habitats. Informed by climate science, WWF will restore, connect, and protect forests and other habitats. WWF will also engage Indigenous and rural communities to improve management of critical ecosystems and fire response.
· Prepare for future emergencies. WWF seeks to ensure recovery, reconstruction, and management responses promote resiliency, incorporate natural infrastructure, help mitigate climate change, and work towards securing Australia’s natural resources for people and nature over the long-term.
How you can help
WWF is actively raising funds in response to this desperate situation. Your generous donation will help support the immediate response to the fires, crisis recovery, and long-term conservation efforts toward securing Australia's natural resources for people and nature in a time of climate emergency.
- Special detection dogs find surviving koalas amid Australian bushfires
- Meet Maryanne, a koala that survived Australia's bushfires
- Listen to musical artist Conner Youngblood''s recent rerecording of his song “Australia” along with an acoustic version in support of WWF’s Australia fire relief efforts.