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Our history

It's our 30-year anniversary! Founded by Bob Brown, Bush Heritage has been protecting natural bushland since 1991.

Our story began when two rainforest blocks adjacent to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area were put up for sale and marketed as 'ideal for woodchipping'.

It was 1990, and unwilling to see this patch of forest destroyed, politician, activist and local resident Bob Brown used $49,000 awarded to him as recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize as a down payment on the land, borrowing the rest from friends and the bank.

Fern leaf in the Liffey Valley. Photo Annette Ruzicka.
The fundraising campaign to recover this debt was the birth of Bush Heritage in 1991.

Bit by bit these forest blocks in Tasmania's Liffey Valley were paid for (becoming our Liffey River and Dry's Bluff Reserves).

Once they knew they could pay off the debt, Bob urged expansion to employ staff, to make a new purchase, then another, and then to an official presence outside Tasmania.

White Stallion lookout, Carnarvon Reserve, Qld. Photo Cathy Zwick.

Partnerships in conservation

As the organisation grew, it became obvious that just buying land wasn't enough to safeguard our precious but threatened natural heritage. Much land that's vital to regional conservation is in private hands.

So in 2006 we started building partnerships with landowners – pastoralists, farmers (such as those in the Tasmanian Midlands) and Aboriginal landowners – to help them manage their land for conservation.

Tasmanian farmer Julian Von Bibra works with us to achieve conservation goals on his property. Photo Matthew Newton.

A national presence

Since then, the Australian public has rallied behind Bush Heritage. From just a few hundred hectares in 1991, we now help protect over 11.3 million hectares across Australia on our reserve and partnership properties. And it's all thanks to our supporters.

Our supporters saw an opportunity to really do something about conserving our country. And their vision has paid off. If we're considered successful, they're the reason why. We can't thank them enough for what they've done.

Where we work

30 years and counting

From the dripping rainforests of Far North Queensland to the gentle grassy woodlands of NSW and Victoria; from the wide red plains of central Australia to the wildflowers of southwestern WA, a suite of animals and landscapes are better off because of Bush Heritage supporters.

Historian Sarah Martin documented our history in her book Restoring Nature Step by Step. Central to this story are the ecologists, researchers, land managers, Aboriginal groups, staff, donors and volunteers who've helped Bush Heritage to grow.

Today, in 2021, it's 30 years since our humble beginnings. Thank-you to supporters past and present, for making this wonderful journey possible.

Restoring Nature Step by Step. A book by Sara Martin.

Key milestones