There is never a dull moment with Jimmy Malecki. Professional photographer/film maker meets SCUBA instructor, festival thrower and passionate conservationist; Jimmy has an infectious spirit that inspires a love and fascination for nature and drive to protect it.
We paid Jimmy a visit last month to take a walk around The Bog, a 39-hectare conservation area located approximately 60km north of Grafton in the Richmond River catchment area.
Jimmy is originally from the States where a bog means ‘swamp’. The conservation area is protected in-perpetuity under a conservation agreement that Jimmy and his partner Richard signed with the Nature Conservation Trust in 2010. This agreement is now managed by the Biodiversity Conservation Trust.
The Bog lies within the traditional lands of the Bundjalung people and is perfectly nestled in between the Bundjalung State Conservation Area, Doubleuke State Forest and Bungawalbin Nature Reserve. The conservation area is formed by two endangered ecological communities listed under the NSW Threatened Species Act 1995 including Swamp sclerophyll forest on Coastal Floodplains and Freshwater wetlands on Coastal Floodplains. It is also home to a range of native animals including the threatened brush-tailed phascogale, little lorikeet, squirrel slider, and endangered coastal emu.
On 16 November 2019, The Bog was engulfed by flames. That morning Jimmy was still rigging up the last of the sprinklers around the house when he heard the sirens and was told to evacuate. It wasn't until he went out the back to see if the wildlife cameras had survived and found one melted but with the memory card intact, that he discovered a spot fire had started in the conservation area of the property earlier in the day. He had had no idea his property was burning.
Jimmy stayed to protect his home for as long as possible. Thanks to this effort and that of the RFS, all the main buildings, and the grave site where his partner Richard is buried – were spared. The conservation area however was affected. Being an exceptional photographer and film maker, Jimmy managed to document the whole bushfire event.
Almost a year later, the amount of regrowth visible is quite remarkable.
“We lost a few old growth trees, but the more I walk through the site the more I notice the habitat trees and hollows that have survived,” Jimmy said.
During our visit we kept our eyes peeled for the rare coastal emu, but according to Jimmy there have been fewer sightings since the bushfire. Clearing the tracks of debris and weeds on the site to help bring back the local population will be the next management action Jimmy tackles with the help of one of the BCT’s conservation partner grants.
The Bog conservation area is a hub for research, education, events, collaboration and building a sense of community in the region. To see more photos of The Bog and stay up to date with the work that Jimmy is doing on the property, check out The Bog Conservation Area on Facebook.
The rare Coastal Emu spotted in The Bog, Photo by Jiimmy Malecki