25-year history

Last updated: Thursday 20 October, 2016

Protecting land and wildlife since 1991

Bracken Fern, and Black Wattle at Liffey River Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
Bracken Fern, and Black Wattle at Liffey River Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
Our story starts 25 years ago in a wild slice of Tasmanian rainforest.

Back then, Bob Brown made an important decision – one that was to have some major consequences for Australian conservation.

Bob, then a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, had heard about two untouched blocks of Tasmanian forest that were doomed to be woodchipped. Luckily, he was able to use an unexpected windfall – the Goldman Environmental Prize – as a deposit to secure the two blocks.

White Stallion lookout, Carnarvon Reserve, Qld. Photo Cathy Zwick.
White Stallion lookout, Carnarvon Reserve, Qld. Photo Cathy Zwick.
Bob admits that he was ‘very anxious' about raising the rest of the money. But like-minded people helped out with donations, with paediatrician and environmentalist Judy Henderson playing a crucial role.

Bit by bit, the forest blocks were bought. These two blocks of Tasmanian forest in the Liffey Valley became our Liffey River and Dry's Bluff Reserves, and in 1991 Bush Heritage was born.

From small beginnings to a national presence

Since then, the Australian public has rallied behind Bush Heritage.

From just a few hundred hectares in 1991, we now protect over 6 million hectares across Australia. And it's all thanks to our supporters.

CEO Gerard O'Neil says 'Our supporters saw an opportunity to really do something about conserving our country. And their vision has paid off. If we're considered successful, they're the reason why. We can't thank them enough for what they've done.'

Where we work

Reaching out: partnerships in conservation

As the organisation grew, it became obvious that just buying land wasn't enough to safeguard our precious but threatened natural heritage. Much land that's vital to regional conservation is in private hands.

Tasmanian farmer Julian Von Bibra works in partnership with us to achieve conservation goals on his property. Photo Matthew Newton.
Tasmanian farmer Julian Von Bibra works in partnership with us to achieve conservation goals on his property. Photo Matthew Newton.
So in 2006 we started building partnerships with landowners – pastoralists, farmers and indigenous landowners – to help them manage their land for conservation.

For example, we partner with the Warddeken people of the West Arnhem Plateau in the Northern Territory, to support the conservation management of their lands.

Where to now?

Restoring Nature Step by Step, by Sarah Martin.
Restoring Nature Step by Step, by Sarah Martin.
From the dripping rainforests of Far North Queensland to the gentle grassy woodlands of NSW and Victoria; from the wide red plains of central Australia to the wildflower-strewn plains of southwestern WA, a suite of animals and landscapes are better off because of Bush Heritage's supporters.

In 2016, on the 25th anniversary of our beginning, historian Sarah Martin has written our history – Restoring Nature Step by Step. Central to this story are the ecologists, researchers, land managers, local Indigenous groups, staff, donors and a brigade of volunteers who have helped the organisation to grow from humble beginnings into a large non-profit with benefactors all over the world.

To supporters past and present, thank you for making all this possible.

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