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Message from our President

Published 10 Aug 2022 

Looking back and looking forward

This was a momentous year in more ways than one. Bush Heritage celebrated its 30th birthday and launched its strategy to deepen and double its impact by 2030. At the same time, Australians lived through the second year of the pandemic, and record-breaking floods devastated much of the east coast.

If you were like me, the year provided many opportunities to reflect about the future we are creating; to wonder if and how we will be able to protect our landscapes, and the people within them, through the confronting challenges that lay ahead.

Sue O'Connor. Photo Annette Ruzicka.
Sue O'Connor. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

In October, I joined a virtual celebration to look back at what this organisation has achieved in its 30 years. I heard stories from the grassroots days, back in 1991 when Bob Brown and a group of likeminded conservationists set the wheels in motion, and from those who have joined at different steps along the way.

It was moving to witness the commitment, adaptability and dedication shared by everyone on my screen and it reminded me that people are at the heart of everything we do.

Bush Heritage’s 2030 Strategy is no exception. Under its three pillars – doubling our reserve network; strengthening our Aboriginal partnership program; and growing our emerging focus in the agricultural sector – it is our people who are leading the way.

This financial year, we acquired five new reserves, including Buckrabanyule Reserve on Dja Dja Wurrung Country in Victoria, where we also strengthened our partnership with the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Clans Corporation (DJAARA) by developing a plan to walk together to Dhelkunya Dja (heal country).

We deepened our impact through increased resources, such as the newly implemented enterprise-level ecological database, ‘Project Echo’, which will enable our ecologists, field officers, reserve managers, partners and volunteers to better collate the vast amounts of data they collect every day.

And with more than 50% of Australia made up of agricultural land, we entered into new natural capital accounting projects to boost biodiversity, recognising that a collaborative approach will benefit the entire landscape.

Much of this work saw volunteers back in the field as COVID-19 restrictions lifted, a sight that was embraced by staff across the country and supported by Bush Heritage’s focus on growing our operational capacity and capability with an increased workforce, and development and training opportunities.

Revegetation with volunteers at Monjebup, WA. Photo by Krysta Guille.
Revegetation with volunteers at Monjebup, WA. Photo by Krysta Guille.

On top of this, we raised a significant $64 million in revenue towards our conservation activities.

This remarkable figure represents the generosity that enables our work and puts us in good stead to deepen and double our impact by 2030. I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the Board, members of each subcommittee and Heather Campbell, as well as our volunteers, supporters, partners, and staff.

We have the knowledge, the skills and the people. Together, we are confronting what lies ahead, with rigorous science, adaptability, and inimitable dedication at our core. Kind regards,

Sue O'Çonnor's signature

Sue O'Connor, President.