Gerard O'Neill – Bush Heritage CEO
Twenty-five years ago, a small group of people changed the fate of a precious block of forest, destined otherwise for timber harvesting.
They did something practical. They purchased the land, since known as Liffey Reserve, for conservation of its wonderful forests. They didn’t see themselves as visionaries – they just saw an alternative to a future they didn’t much like, and they pursued that alternative faithfully.
Did they know at the time, that they were starting something that would keep rolling, keep gathering momentum, 25 years and more into the future? Perhaps not. But they certainly hoped there were enough Australians that cared about the diminishing bush and that were willing to act, to make a difference.
They had every reason to hope. In 2016 there are 40,000 people who donate regularly to the alternative that Bush Heritage offers them. Alternatives like buying and protecting the habitat of the recently rediscovered Night Parrot – working with the Wunambal Gaambera people on long-term management plans for their traditional lands – and re-introducing the nationally vulnerable Red-tailed Phascogale to our Kojonup Reserve.
We know now that we can make a difference. In 2016 we have come so far. Bush Heritage, together with our partners, protect over 6 million hectares of land and sea, where fire, weeds and feral animals are managed and over 200 threatened plant and animal species Australia-wide find protection and a brighter future.
There is so much more to do. Habitat continues to be destroyed and climate change will continue to challenge our bush and its species. But thanks to people like you, Bush Heritage can make a difference. Our financial model, including our new capital endowment fund, gives us the ability to act nimbly when opportunities arise, while the foundations beneath us remain strong and steady.
But in 2016, our biggest asset is you. Our supporters make all of our work possible. Just like those handful of people, 25 years ago, who hoped that enough people cared enough to make a difference, we rely on you to prove them right. Thank you for showing that you do care.
Please celebrate with me, as we embark on our 25th year of protecting the Australian bush, and pause for a moment to recognise how far we’ve come together. And keep a look out, later in the year, for our Spring newsletter edition, to mark 25 years to the date, of Bush Heritage Australia.
Gerard O’Neill, Chief Executive