The year 2004 is off to a flying start. I am delighted to tell you that the purchase of our new Ethabuka Reserve in western Queensland, our largest reserve yet, has just been completed.
It's thanks to you, our generous supporters, that another unique reserve has been created. Our next job is to begin the exciting process of bringing this 214 000-ha property under conservation management.
Windswept vegetation on Hunter Island, Bass Strait.
We're well placed to deal with its remoteness and size. Your ongoing donations will help us to protect Ethabuka and all our reserves around Australia, and also enable us to purchase new properties as they become available.
Another exciting piece of news is our intended purchase of the grazing lease on Hunter Island featured in this newsletter.
The transfer of the lease is yet to be finalised but is likely within days. The island has outstanding conservation values and is visually spectacular. It will be a wonderful destination for Tasmanian and Victorian visitors in particular.
The volunteer ranger program should begin this year and will provide vital assistance to the reserve manager on the island. We have also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC), one of the largest rural land purchasers in Australia.
We hope to begin a free exchange of information that will enhance the conservation management and protection of indigenous interests on both Bush Heritage and ILC properties.
The progress report on Carnarvon Station Reserve illustrates that we're actively protecting the land that you help us to buy. You can be confident that we'll be good neighbours, control weeds and feral animals, promote sustainable visiting opportunities and manage fire, whether by reducing the risks of wild fire or using it as a tool to enhance habitats.
The past summer has seen unplanned fires at two of the Liffey Valley reserves in Tasmania. Neither caused serious damage to either property or to the ecology.
The Liffey River Reserve interpretation trail is now open. I hope you, your family and friends can visit and experience what will be the first of many such trails on Bush Heritage reserves.
I thank you for your valuable support during 2003 and encourage you to continue your assistance in 2004.This will be another exciting year for us all as we further expand our conservation work.
Doug Humann, CEO