20 years of conservation – Simon McKeon

Published 21 Sep 2011 
Simon McKeonSimon McKeon. Photo by Bec Walton

“I’d never heard of Bush Heritage until one day in the early ’90s when I took a flight to Perth and happened to sit next to Doug Humann. When I asked Doug what he did, he told me about this new organisation he was leading, called Bush Heritage.

They had a vision of the Australian people taking part in conservation by helping to buy back the bush. I got it immediately and loved the idea, but I did think to myself, “Good luck though!”

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About ten years later our paths crossed again. I saw how far he and his organisation had come towards that vision, which was incredible. He’d brought together a wealth of good people and had built up an organisation that had serious hectares under its management right throughout Australia.

I’ve always thought big business should look to the passion that people in the not-for- profit sector have for their work – the kind of passion I’ve seen in Bush Heritage staff and volunteers.

“I've seen that everyone involved in the organisation is striving toward one big goal, but their decisions are not made hastily.”

Thankyou for 20 years of conservation

The planning is done from a solid basis of knowledge. I work with a lot of organisations that deal with poverty, and I think Bush Heritage deals with that too. I have a very broad definition of poverty. I think if we don’t have wild places, where land is dominated by nature, then we’re impoverished.

We all need those kinds of places. For me it’s the Mornington Peninsula, a beautiful piece of land that separates Port Phillip from the ocean. It’s only about an hour from Melbourne. After I’ve been there I feel reinvigorated, ready to get back to the city grind.

The days when governments handed over large tracts of land for the public or for conservation are over. What Bush Heritage is doing, especially in this era, is very significant.

Australians are incredibly well served by the fact that Bush Heritage has connected people who’ve been willing to donate very big sums with the machine in Bush Heritage that identifies, purchases and manages land, while planning for the future. That’s an amazing achievement.”

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