The long road to recovery after fires

LANDCARE HELP: A year on from the Kilmore-Mickleham fires, Sonia Sharkey and Paul Fleming have developed strong links between Landcare and the community.

A GRASS roots driven response to the disastrous Kilmore-Mickleham fires has emerged as a positive model for natural disaster recovery in regional Australia.

This model provides a pattern that may be useful for Mansfield and surrounding towns in future years if fires again threaten the district.

On February 13 last year, 13 homes were destroyed by fire in the Wallan area, although around 5000 houses were saved by the work of emergency services, according to Bushfire Response Minister, Kim Wells.

At the same time up to 11,000 sheep and 500 cattle were killed by the fire as it tore through 20,000 hectares, burning and blackening large numbers of paddocks.

After the fires, the South West Goulburn Landcare Network stepped in to help fire-affected residents with practical assistance and advice while the embers were still red hot.

Network chairman Paul Fleming and facilitator Sonia Sharkey were both veterans of the 2009 Black Saturday fires and knew the response must be immediate and community driven.

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