The 2019–2020 Australian bushfire season involves a series of bushfires that are currently burning across Australia, predominantly in the south-east.
The 2019–2020 bushfire season is of notable intensity compared to previous seasons as it has burned an estimated 10.7 million hectares (26 million acres; 107,000 square kilometres; 41,000 square miles), destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including over 2,204 homes) and killed 28 people as of 8 January 2020.
The bushfires are regarded by the NSW Rural Fire Service as the worst bushfire season in memory. In December 2019, the New South Wales Government declared a state of emergency after record-breaking temperatures and prolonged drought exacerbated the bushfires. It was estimated that close to half a billion reptiles, mammals and birds in New South Wales were affected by the ongoing fires. Other estimates, which include animals like bats, amphibians and invertebrates, put the number killed at over a billion. Ecologists fear some endangered species will be driven to extinction by the fires.
How to support?
NSW Rural Fire Service
Donations to the NSW Rural Fire Service directly benefit the volunteer firefighters on the frontline. To help, you can contact your local brigade directly or donate here.
The World Wildlife Fund have set up a “Help Save Koalas” fund.
They explain exactly where your money could go in helping to prevent koalas from becoming extinct:
•$50 “could help plant the first 10,000 urgently needed trees in critical koala habitat.”
• $75 “could help provide emergency care and medicine for injured koalas affected by bushfires.”
• $100 “could help protect existing forest and woodland, and the wildlife that live there.”
• $150 “could help pressure governments to strengthen laws that prevent excessive tree-clearing, before it’s too late.”
You can donate here.
Australian Red Cross
Since July, the Australian Red Cross has assisted more than 18,600 people affected by the fires, according to its website. The organization says that it is currently supporting thousands of people in evacuation centers and recovery hubs. Learn more about where your money goes and donate at.
The New South Wales-based Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc., Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization, is accepting donations to fund the rescue and care of animals affected by the fires. In December, WIRES received more than 20,000 calls and volunteers attended more than 3,300 rescues, according to the organization’s website. All animal rescuers are volunteers. Learn more here.
A nonprofit that provides wildlife emergency response services, Wildlife Victoria is accepting donations to distribute to wildlife shelters to help rebuild enclosures and equipment, the organization says on its website.
Can I go to Australia to help with fires?
Most emergency response organizations require volunteers to have training before participating in relief efforts. While booking a ticket to Australia might not be the most effective way to help, you can still sign up for a training session to help out in the future! If there are any volunteering opportunities opening in the near future, this will be updated!