Winning Landcare projects were announced yesterday at the Landcare ACT Awards at the historic ‘Lambrigg’ property beside the Murrumbidgee River, where community landcarers from across the Territory came together to celebrate their impressive achievements.
The awards celebrate the incredible efforts of individuals and groups, young and old, to protect the ACT’s natural resources, stewarding a more resilient landscape for the future. The award winners and their projects are diverse, from farming and indigenous land management, to educational and mapping tools.
Dr Maxine Cooper Landcare ACT Board Chair and MC for the event, thanked the award sponsors and paid tribute to the award finalists and winners as champions of the Landcare community.
‘Sunday afternoon’s Landcare ACT Awards event was a great celebration of the breadth of landcare volunteering in the Territory. The awards recognise individuals, groups and partnerships, importantly including First Nations custodians caring for country,’ Dr Cooper said.
‘On behalf of the ACT’s landcare community I congratulate all the finalists and winners in the award categories. We are seeing real and substantial outcomes from the dedication and commitment of community landcarers. It is so important that we continue to support and recognise their tremendous efforts.’
Winners in National Award categories will represent the ACT at the National Landcare Awards in Sydney in 2020.
Landcare Australia CEO, Dr Shane Norrish, commended recipients of the Landcare ACT Awards on their outstanding accomplishments.
‘It’s an honour to be able to recognise the great work being carried out by our Landcare champions in the ACT,” Dr Norrish said. ‘The Landcare Awards program provides landcarers the ideal opportunity to get together and celebrate individual and collective achievements of community landcare.’
He added: ‘Landcarers across Australia deserve to be acknowledged and we’re looking forward to seeing the Territory winners represent their community at the National Landcare Awards next year.’
2019 Landcare ACT Award winners
Australian Community Media Landcare Community Group Award
Red Hill Bush Regenerators – The Red Hill Bush Regeneration Group (RHR) are a volunteer group established in 1989 committed to restoring the native bushland ecology of the Red Hill Nature Reserve, one of the largest remaining remnants of endangered Yellow Box – Blakley’s Red Gum grassy woodland in Australia. When the group formed in the late 1980s, weeds covered more than a third of the reserve and woody weeds formed massive thickets. The hill was so devalued that rubbish dumping along the road in the reserve was a common occurrence. The regenerators have spent 30 years transforming the rubbish bush to nationally significant woodland , and today thanks to the many thousand volunteer hours, Red Hill boasts one of the largest, most diverse, best condition remnants of box-gum woodland in Australia and brims with over 50 regionally rare or threatened species.
Indigenous Land Management Award
Jackson Taylor-Grant – Jackson Taylor-Grant is a Wiradjuri man who since 2010 has worked in Aboriginal land management and engagement roles within the ACT Government. These roles have included urban reserve ranger, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Aboriginal Ranger, Senior Ranger with the Healthy Country team. With this trust he has been able to drive Aboriginal NRM projects which are inclusive, engage the local community and reflect the goals and aspirations of the Traditional Custodians and the broader Aboriginal community, and hence effect change.
Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award
Rainer Rehwinkel – Ag scientist and long-time Landcare advocate, Rainer has spent the greater part of his professional career on data-gathering to support best approaches to biodiversity conservation and connectivity, in particular grasslands. Of his long-list of achievements, Rainer was instrumental in challenging EPBC legislation to protect Natural Temperate Grasslands (NTG) using facts and hard science to prosecute his arguments. He also discovered the NTG at Yass Gorge and was active in its recognition through Yass Council.
Australian Government Partnerships for Landcare Award
ACT Parks and Conservation Service and ParkCare Volunteers – The ParkCare Initiative is a partnership between environmental volunteers in the ACT region and ACT Parks and Conservation Service which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019. The ACT is unique to other states and territories in Australia with ACT Parks (the ACT Government) managing 60% of the land in the ACT. This includes Namadgi National Park, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and a network of reserves through the Canberra Nature Park. This is an enormous task and the landscape includes everything from endangered ecological ecosystems (EEC’s), alpine areas, 66km of the Murrumbidgee River and a wealth of Aboriginal and European heritage sites. The Canberra Nature Park where the bulk of ParkCare volunteering takes place is home to some of the best examples of lowland native grassland and the EEC of Yellow Box-Red Gum Grassy Woodland left in Australia. There are currently over 800 volunteers who are registered with ParkCare and these volunteers work with and alongside ACT Parks employees to care for, protect, enhance and promote the parks and reserves of the region
Australian Government Landcare Farming Award
Matthew and Sharon Gregory – After purchasing Willow Vale, a property including part of the fertile valley floor of the Gudgenby River near Tharwa, Matthew and Sharon Gregory were determined to increase productivity of the most suitable grazing country while enhancing overall environmental health through weed and pest management. Located near Namadgi National Park (NN Park), they pointed their efforts at the ‘inaccessible’ pasture land along 450 metres of Gudgenby River frontage over an area of approximately 5 hectares. Rendered useless and unmanageable by 40 years of fencing out, the riverine corridor had become choked by blackberries, basket willows and other trees and weeds enabling feral pigs and foxes to proliferate. ‘We used an ACT Government Environment Grant through the Southern ACT Catchment Group, to help fund removal of pest plants,’ Sharon explained. ‘It entailed coordinating work to undertake spraying, weed removal and tree planting, and collaboration with our adjoining neighbours along the River and NN Park staff.’
Australian Government Innovation in Agriculture Award
John Lilleyman – The Lilleyman family were new to farming when, 7 years ago, they took over Amberly Farm in Kambah. The beef cattle operation from that time was based on set stocking and drinking water for stock depended entirely on rainwater fed dams on the property. Picking up the beef business from scratch presented a steep learning curve but at the same time offered the opportunity to see everything with fresh eyes, to question all assumptions and use first principles to develop their farming methodology based on a willingness to take on evidence-based practices. Amberly Farm now operates as a multi species strategic grazing enterprise, managing vegetation for increased forage production, animal health considerations, reduced fire fuel loads, better wildlife habitat and noxious weed control. Benefitting from its prime location with large customer base on its doorstep the farm produces pastured eggs and garlic for the local chain of Independent Grocers across the ACT and farmers markets complimenting the beef cattle operation.
Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award
ACT Young Rangers Club – The ACT Young Rangers Club started in early 2016, in response to a growing number of young people who displayed a particular interest in the environment. Examples of project activities have included on ground works at the Jerrabomberra Wetlands and other Canberra Nature Park Reserves which benefit the whole community include tree planting, weed control, pollinator counts, catching turtles for monitoring, Frogwatch, Waterwatch, Latham’s Snipe capture, butterfly surveys, spotlight walks (survey) and construction of native bee houses. Recently, five Young Rangers were selected to travel to Japan to speak with authorities about the importance of Latham’s Snipe habitat conservation, and to work with the Wild Bird Society of Japan to survey Latham’s Snipe in Tomokomai (Hokkaido).
Austcover Young Landcare Leadership Award
Dhani Gilbert – A remarkable and proud young Wiradjuri woman who Iives on Ngunnawal country, Year 12 student Dhani has a solid cultural education and has grown up involved in Caring for Country practices inclusive of seed harvesting, cultural burning, weed eradication work and native vegetation restoration. She is passionate about pursuing a career in Environmental Science Communications & Species Recovery. Dhani has pursued work & study experience opportunities in these fields with the: ANU College Biodiversity course; work experience with Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve wildlife team; & Mulligans Flat ecology team. In 2018 Dhani joined the team at the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust as a casual Community Education Outreach Officer at Mulligans Flat. Ultimately, Dhani empowers other young people to participate widely in their community, whilst also being a part of positive social change in educational spaces, cultural education and in ecological recovery actions here in the ACT.
Editors: Please keep sponsor names in copy