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By Elizabeth Byrne – Posted Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:25pm AEST

A group of ecology experts has assembled in Canberra to form a national response team that will assess damage immediately after a major bushfire.

The interstate team will make rapid judgements about the extent of environmental damage after major fires like those in Victoria and Canberra, and offer timely advice to government authorities about remediation.

The team includes experts in soil, forestry, wildlife and geographical systems.

Dr Margaret Kitchin formed the group after working with a United States team in the wake of the Victorian fires.

Dr Kitchin says there were many examples where the work of the group contributed to rehabilitating damaged areas and bringing back wildlife like the leadbeater possum.

“The team got into some areas that had been really affected by the fires – totally scorched trees and loss of habitat – and identified that putting in possum boxes for the leadbeater possum could actually help with the habitat,” she said.

“Parks Victoria rapidly implemented that and provided that, so leadbeater possum has had some recovery in that area.”

Dr Kitchin says the response team is based on similar teams operating in the US and Canada.

“We’ve come up with one that we think is appropriate for Australia – it’s about seven or eight people and it’s really working on the key parts of the environment,” she said.