It's been a wonderful 12 months at Bush Heritage, and you, our supporters, have achieved some extraordinary things. The bush, our wildlife and some of Australia’s iconic landscapes have been the beneficiaries. And your support has helped to reduce the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions as we store atmospheric carbon dioxide in the recovering habitats and revegetated land on our reserves, and provide species with habitats to move into as conditions deteriorate.
Cravens Peak Reserve, Qld. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
Over the past year Bush Heritage has nearly doubled the area of land in its care. We've added Cravens Peak Reserve (233 000 hectares in far western Queensland), Yarrabee Wesfarmers Reserve (923 hectares in south-western Western Australia), Boolcoomatta Reserve (63 000 hectares in the arid zone of South Australia) and Nardoo Hills Reserve (245 hectares in north-central Victoria).
Now, with the addition of Scottsdale in New South Wales, Bush Heritage owns 25 reserves. They protect:
- a total of 674 155 hectares of Australia’s key habitats, including at least 192 vegetation communities, of which 69 are listed as threatened
- at least 2658 plant species, of which 112 are considered to be at risk
- at least 530 species of birds, mammals and reptiles, including at least 126 that are classified as either critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near threatened.
Flowering foxtails Ptilotis sp. at Cravens Peak Reserve, Qld. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
The reason for the remarkable progress this past year has been your support. Together you've contributed over $8.6 million in donations, bequests and special gifts for large projects, an increase of 111% on the previous financial year. Once grants and income from other sources are added, our total income was $13 328 000.
The Australian Government (through the National Reserve System program and Envirofund), The Nature Conservancy, Nature Foundation SA, The Thomas Foundation, Wesfarmers, and also Flight Centre, Lotterywest and an anonymous foundation deserve special mention. The Bush Heritage annual report for 2005–06 lists other significant contributors.
We also have more supporters this year and our Friends of the Bush, who give through automatic debits, have increased their support substantially, up 18% this financial year.
The number of supporters who've confirmed gifts in their wills has also increased by 26%. Volunteers have again provided vital and irreplaceable support both on the reserves and in the Conservation Support Centre in Melbourne.
One hundred and sixty-two people volunteered, through the Conservation Partnerships Program, and contributed more than $300 000 of value towards reserve management and administration costs. A total of 53 people participated as volunteer rangers, with most staying between two and four weeks on the reserves to assist the reserve managers with major projects and daily tasks. Between July 2005 and June 2006, 105 people joined working bees for periods ranging from one day to three weeks.
Our financial position is sound and growing strongly. We finished the financial year with another operating surplus and a greater percentage of our spending going towards conservation programs and land purchases. The amount of money in long-term ethical investments has also grown, with the income helping to support the management of the reserves into the future.
Media coverage has soared this year with the appointment of our Communications Strategist. We achieved stories in 59 media outlets from July 2005 to June 2006. Stories about Bush Heritage had significant national coverage as well as coverage at the state and local levels.
Partnerships with research organisations continued to develop. We're now working with Edith Cowan University, the University of Sydney, the Mammal Survey Group of Victoria, the University of Southern Queensland, Griffith University, the University of South Australia, Charles Sturt University and RMIT University. These institutions are helping us to monitor environmental changes on the reserves and/or providing technical advice on the management of the reserves.
It's been a great year and shows what can be achieved in partnership with others. Whether your contribution has been through your donations, your time as a volunteer or your professional skills, you've contributed to protecting the environment in tangible and practical ways.
Thank you all for this wonderful contribution.