Casey Kirchhoff | Hope returns

Tracking the recovery of our wildlife and habitats after the bushfires

Casey Kirchhoff is an ecologist and PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). She’s also the founder of the Environment Recovery Project, a citizen science initiative that was launched after the catastrophic bushfire season over the Australian summer.

Casey tragically lost her own home, which she shared with her husband, in the fires. Their property in a town called Wingello in the NSW Southern Highlands was where they got married just last year, loved going for walks in the forest and spent as much time as they could growing their own food and flowers in their beautiful garden.

In the days following the fires, when it was safe to return to the property, Casey started taking photos of the plants and animals she saw emerging from the charred landscape. It gave her hope to see these signs of life – from new shoots growing on trees, to wombats nestled in their burrows – and it inspired her to turn it into a citizen science project for other people to contribute what they were seeing too.

In this episode, Casey talks about:

• what inspired her to study science after starting her career as a real estate agent
• why she thought she’d never go to university and what life is like as a PhD candidate
• the devastating day she lost her home in the bushfires and what’s happened since
• how she started the Environment Recovery Project to monitor the post-fire recovery of the bush and why she’s encouraging citizen scientists to share their observations too

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