Congratulations to Maroondah resident Dr Graeme Lorimer, who has been named the recipient of the Bill Wilkins Volunteer Award for 2020.
The long-serving volunteer is the second person to receive the prestigious award in recognition of his 32 years of volunteering in Maroondah.
Mayor of Maroondah Cr Kylie Spears said Dr Lorimer’s outstanding contribution to the community as a dedicated conservationist has led to many positive environmental outcomes as well as recognition on a global scale.
“Dr Lorimer has been a tireless campaigner with enormous persistence for the conservation of the Kilsyth South Spider-orchid, which is considered to be one of the rarest plant species on earth. If not for his hard work and diligence, the species would likely have become extinct many years ago,” Cr Spears said.
In nominating Dr Lorimer for the award, Friends of Bungalook Conservation Reserves treasurer Kate Davies said:
“The beauty, naturalness, conservation values and fire safety of bushland across Maroondah have increased due to Graeme’s use and advocacy of new management approaches such as burning practices and approaches to weeding.
“The Kilsyth South Spider-orchid and perhaps the Porphyry Wallaby-grass would probably be extinct by now if not for Graeme’s voluntary efforts.
“In 2012, Graeme persuaded Council to deviate from policy and cooperate with him to organise a trial of controlled burning. The burn’s success led Council to change policy and organise burns in many reserves in Maroondah. The most recent burn at Bungalook Conservation Reserves more than doubled the world’s known population of Kilsyth South Spider-orchids.”
Dr Lorimer has spent three decades volunteering in Maroondah as a taxonomist and in government advisory and community education capacities. He is also a member of the Maroondah Environment Advisory Committee and has played a prominent role in groups including Friends of Bungalook Conservation Reserve and the Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association.
Cr Spears said Dr Lorimer’s contribution to science through his taxonomic work had proven invaluable, including the conservation and taxonomy of Wallaby Grasses (Rytidosperma) of which he is a global authority.
“Year after year, he is always more than willing to help whenever called upon by community organisations to provide free technical support and guidance for conservation management, identifying plants, leading guided walks, presenting at seminars, holding festival displays, and providing policy and legislative guidance. These have included the numerous community organisations within Maroondah, such as CRISP Nursery Inc, Croydon Conservation Society, Maroondah Bushlinks, among so many others, both in Maroondah and beyond.
“Dr Lormier is a brilliant communicator of complicated science and ecological issues, de-mystifying difficult topics to make them accessible and understandable and in helping the community become more aware and compassionate about conservation,” she said.
“I am delighted to present this award on behalf of Council to such a worthy recipient,” Cr Spears added.
Dr Lorimer was named the 2018 Maroondah Citizen of the Year and is the author of the current research informing Maroondah City Council’s Vegetation Review – Biodiversity in Maroondah.
Of his work he says: “I have a sense of duty that is too great for my own good.”
Named in honour of community stalwart Bill Wilkins, the award is presented annually in recognition of those volunteers who inspire and embody the spirit of volunteerism through their exemplary contribution to the community.
The award was presented by Bill Wilkins OAM and the Mayor, Cr Kylie Spears, on 2 December. The ceremony was attended by all award nominees and those who nominated them, under COVID-safe guidelines.