Gerard O'Neill, CEO
In October, the Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts of All Time were announced in Melbourne.
I am honoured and extremely proud that Bush Heritage was the recipient of not one but two of the extraordinary gifts recognised in this prestigious list.
The first was the purchase in 1991 of 275 hectares of magnificent forest in Tasmania by Dr Bob Brown. Bob used his Goldman Environmental Prize of $49,000 as a deposit to buy the land and save it from logging. From this single act of generosity, Bush Heritage Australia was born.
The second gift involved Bush Heritage's participation in The David Thomas Challenge. In 2007, David and Barbara Thomas made a $10 million commitment to six not-for-profit organisations, including Bush Heritage, aimed at encouraging new and increased levels of philanthropic support for conservation projects through matching gifts. Your generous donations along with the matching gifts helped to ultimately raise a total of $9.8 million for Bush Heritage.
The Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts of All Time were then opened for public voting to create the Top 10 People's Choice Awards.
I am personally delighted that Bob Brown's gift, which launched Bush Heritage, was among those chosen to be honoured by the people of Australia.
In recent months, we've had cause for double celebration on Yourka Reserve in far-north Queensland with confirmed sightings of both the rock-wallaby and Lumholtz tree-kangaroo. Yourka still has many secrets to reveal and is proving itself to be a real stronghold for rare and threatened animal species.
And in October, Bush Heritage celebrated a decade of ownership of Charles Darwin Reserve with an inspiring open day and evening blues concert, which I was privileged to attend.
The Open Day's nature-based reserve tours were popular right from first thing in the morning, and the sustainability talks by prominent academics and rural leaders were also very well-attended. There was much discussion about issues like conservation and production, animal ethics and climate change.
The formal sessions attracted around 200 people and included a Welcome to Country by Ashley Bell of the Badimaya people, followed by an address by local Shire President, Chris King.
The evening concert saw 500 more people arrive to enjoy a night of blues music under the stars.
Bush Heritage staff and volunteers were on the go all day, and were up early again the next morning to ‘bump out' and get on with their normal duties. A huge thank you to them, our sponsors and our many volunteers, as well as all who attended this magical day.
Gerard O'Neill, CEO