Australia fires have burned an area twice the size of Maine in the past few months.
Authorities report that at least 25 people have died. Two thousand homes have been destroyed. Tens of thousands have been urged to leave their homes due to spreading flames and declining air quality.
What’s even more alarming are estimations for affected animals. Some 600,000 different species are contained in the area burning, and many are completely unique to Australia. Based on calculations from Professor Christopher Dickman of the University of Sydney, 1 billion animals have died.
And Australia still has another month of fire season left.
So how can we help?
How to Help Affected Families of the Australia Fires
There are two main groups that are hurting because of the fires: people and animals. Some ways to help out the displaced people due to Australia fires include:
1. The Australian Red Cross (for Communities)
Helping out with medical aid, food, and shelter, this organization has sent over 1,200 people to affected communities to help meet the increased need in their 70 evacuation and recovery centers.
Australian actor Dacre Montgomery, who starred in “Stranger Things”, set up a GoFundMe page to gather funds for the Australian Red Cross. Help reach the goal of raising $500,000 here.
2. Australia Wildlife Fund (to Increase Firefighting Efforts)
This organization was started by a $3 million donation from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Earth Alliance. It first aims to help the people affected by the fires by funding firefighting efforts and supporting the damaged communities. The Australia Wildlife Fund will also dedicate funds to wildlife, both in the most urgent times and after the fires to restore ecosystems. Donate here.
3. New South Wales Rural Fire Service (for Families of Firefighters Who Passed Away)
Battling the Australia fires is a dangerous job. Thousands of brave men and women are risking their lives to limit the damage of the fires. They don’t always come home; three have lost their lives so far in this wildfire season. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service is accepting donations for the families of those firefighters here.
How to Help Impacted Animal Habitats
Wildlife affected by the fires need aid right now, but they will also need new habitats when the fire season is over. The organizations below have laid out plans to tackle one or both of these issues.
1. WIRES (for Wildlife Rescue)
New South Wales Wildlife, Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc. is the country’s largest wildlife rescue organization. WIRES volunteers carried out over 3,300 rescues in December alone. Donate here.
2. Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital (for Injured Animals)
Run in part by Steve Irwin’s daughter, this zoo has started the Wildlife Warriors program, which is raising money for new enclosures to house the influx of flying foxes and koalas injured in the fire. Help build these new facilities by donating here.
3. World Wildlife Fund Australia (Planting Trees and Restoring Lost Habitats)
One of the organizations mainly focused on the repercussions of habitat loss, the WWF Australia has set a goal of planting 10,000 native trees in what were previously highly populated koala habitats.
Their action will begin at the conclusion of the fire season and are accepting donations here.
Companies That Have Provided Support During the Australia Fires
Another way to help Australia is to support companies who have helped the country fight the fires. Airbnb, for example, has offered temporary free housing to those in New South Wales and Melbourne, the places the fires’ effects have been the worst, who have been displaced.
Amazon contributed AU$1 million to aid fire relief efforts. Coca-Cola Amatil has given paid leave to workers volunteering with emergency services to fight the fires and provide relief, and 250,000 bottles of water to volunteers.
Additionally, several retail chains in Australia like Levi’s and The North Face pledged to donate 100% of profits from a day last week to the Australian Red Cross.
Beyond Donations: What Should Businesses and Government do About the Australia Fires
Donations now, or helping out however you can, is, of course, selfless and highly impactful. However, we also need to think about how these fires could look in the future if current environmental practices around the world continue.
While climate change may not have started the fires, the increased temperatures dry out plant material, essentially increasing kindling for the fires, making it easier for them to grow and spread.
In 2018, Australia’s national science agency and Bureau of Meteorology concluded that a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperatures has likely contributed to increased intensity in the Australia fires.
Hopefully, these fires can help spur some changes in environmental policy worldwide. So even if donating is not possible at this time, help out Australia by pressuring businesses and governments to put in place more environmentally friendly practices.