Our response to the 2019-20 bushfires

During the summer of 2019–20, much of NSW experienced extreme bushfires. In December 2020, after consulting extensively with stakeholders from affected communities, the NSW Government announced five EPA Bushfire Recovery Programs:

  • the Bushfire-Generated Green Waste Clean-Up and Processing Program, which ensures the appropriate management of remaining green waste generated by the bushfires. The amount of bushfire-generated green waste is estimated to be 165,000 tonnes.
  • the Aboriginal Lands Program, which supports Aboriginal landowners and communities in assessing, planning and cleaning up waste in bushfire-affected areas
  • the Bushfire Recovery Program for Council Landfills, which ensures councils are no worse off as a result of receiving bushfire waste at their landfills
  • the FenceCycle Program, which helps councils collect the metal components of burnt rural fencing from landholders and recycle these
  • the Bushfire Dumping Program, which helps public land managers clean up and dispose of bushfire waste that has been illegally dumped on public land.

These innovative and specific programs to clean up bushfire-affected communities have generated valuable jobs and helped local recovery.

The three programs targeting illegal dumping, fence recycling and council landfills are funded by the NSW Government, while the clean-up programs for green waste and Aboriginal lands are funded under the joint Commonwealth–State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

red coloured regrowth on a blackened tree trunk

New growth on a burnt forest tree after the bushfires.

All programs have a strong emphasis on accountability and probity to ensure the funding goes to specific environmental recovery projects with clearly defined outcomes for local communities. These programs benefit bushfire-affected communities in the long term by improving infrastructure. They also benefit them immediately by generating local employment and removing and recycling waste.

Extensions to four programs were granted to applicants affected by the NSW floods in February and March 2021. Applications for all programs closed on 30 June 2021. The Aboriginal Lands Program is already being rolled out to 24 eligible Local Aboriginal Land Councils. Work is completed or under way in many of these areas. Actions have included installing gates, fencing and signage to prevent illegal dumping, removing waste and capping burnt waste dumps with soil and tree seedlings. Three of the companies engaged for this work are Aboriginal-owned, and employment has been provided for 28 Aboriginal contractors across nine Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

Announcements of the successful applicants for the Green waste, FenceCycle, Council landfills and Bushfire dumping programs will be made in the second half of 2021.

Page last updated