Our history

Last updated 20 Feb 2018 

Protecting land and wildlife since 1991

Bracken Fern, and Black Wattle at Liffey River Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
Bracken Fern, and Black Wattle at Liffey River Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
Our story began in 1990 in a wild slice of Tasmanian rainforest. Two blocks of forest adjacent to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area were put up for sale and marketed as 'ideal for woodchipping'.

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. The fundraising campaign to recover this debt was the birth of Bush Heritage in 1991.

White Stallion lookout, Carnarvon Reserve, Qld. Photo Cathy Zwick.
White Stallion lookout, Carnarvon Reserve, Qld. Photo Cathy Zwick.
Bit by bit these forest blocks in Tasmania's Liffey Valley were paid for (becoming our Liffey River and Dry's Bluff Reserves). However, 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.

From small beginnings to a national presence

Since then, the Australian public has rallied behind Bush Heritage.

From just a few hundred hectares in 1991, we now protect over 6 million hectares across Australia. 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." – CEO, Gerard O'Neill

Where we work

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.

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

Where to now?

Restoring Nature Step by Step, by Sarah Martin.
Restoring Nature Step by Step, by Sarah Martin.
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 wildflower-strewn plains of southwestern WA, a suite of animals and landscapes are better off because of Bush Heritage's supporters.

In 2016, on the 25th anniversary of our beginning, historian Sarah Martin documented our history in her book Restoring Nature Step by Step. Central to this story are the ecologists, researchers, land managers, local Indigenous groups, staff, donors and a brigade of volunteers who've helped Bush Heritage Australia to grow from humble beginnings into a large non-profit with benefactors all over the world.

To supporters past and present, thank you for making all this possible.

WILDgift cards
2017-18 Annual Report