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Drones used to rehabilitate Victoria’s fire-ravaged landscape

More than two years on from the devastating St Patrick's Day bushfires which burnt through 40,000 hectares of land in Victoria's south-west, landscape recovery works are now complete.

Farmland, wildlife reserves and property were all destroyed by the fires that tore through Camperdown, Cobden and Terang in March 2018.

With the help of drones, 32 kilograms of native seeds were dropped over 40 hectares of burnt lakebed and wildlife reserve to bring it back to life.

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) led the efforts with $620,000 of state government funding, plus additional support from local councils and the community.

Heytesbury District Landcare was also bought in from New South Wales to undertake the job.

FFMVic Otway District Manager David Roberts said the seeds were released from two to three metres above the ground to prevent people walking across the fragile ground and potentially damaging it further.

"A good foot or so of soil was completely burnt out and disappeared," he said.

"It's physically difficult to actually walk on that damaged landscape."

While aerial seeding is used extensively in the agricultural sector which is a new concept for bushfire recovery.

 "From a recovery point of view … I certainly haven't heard of it being done previously," Mr Roberts said.

"I think we've proved a concept that it can definitely be a tool that we can use."

If the program is successful, it could help other fire-ravaged landscapes around the country, with helicopters also able to undertake aerial seeding.

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"If it seems to have worked well, then there's no reason why that's a tool that can't be in our kitbag for future efforts," he said.

For the next six months, Heytesbury District Landcare Network (HDLN) will monitor the results through aerial surveying.

HDLN Coordinator Geoff Rollinson said he hopes it will draw native wildlife back to the areas.

"It's expected that the regrowth will lead to more wildlife in the area, providing food, harbour and shelter for a range of birdlife, as well as other animals such as kangaroos and wallabies," Mr Rollinson said.

It is hoped that by spring this year, new plants and vegetation will be visible.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/st-patricks-day-bushfires-drones-used-rehabilitate-victoria-landscapes/0a54f64b-7317-4c30-95f2-21fc9e09434c

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