Bush Heritage Australia

Bush Heritage 2Since I dedicated my last book Billabong Bend to Bush Heritage, I thought I should write a post about it. Bush Heritage is a non-profit conservation organisation dedicated to protecting Australia’s unique animals, plants and their habitats for future generations. They have a simple and practical formula for protecting the bush – buy land of outstanding conservation value, then care for it

Liffey Valley Reserves in Tasmania – the first Bush Heritage Reserve. Photo: Wayne Lawler

Liffey Valley in Tasmania – the first Bush Heritage Reserve. Photo: Wayne Lawler

The organisation began in 1991, when Dr Bob Brown bought several hundred hectares of old-growth forest in Tasmania to save it from logging. Using prize money from an environmental award as the deposit, he sought donations to gather the remaining funds, and Bush Heritage was born.

My fictional property of Billabong Bend is based in part on the beautiful Naree Station, acquired by Bush Heritage in 2012. Located on the inland floodplains of northern NSW, Naree sits at the head of the nationally significant wetlands of the Cuttaburra Channels and Yantabulla Swamp. During flood events it becomes home to an incredible fifty thousand breeding water birds and is rated as one of the twenty most important water bird sites in Australia.

Bush Heritage 4Bush Heritage currently owns and manages thirty-five reserves throughout Australia, covering nearly one million hectares. Reserves are managed like national parks – the land is legally protected, with the intention of safeguarding it forever. Bush Heritage also builds partnerships with farmers. These partnerships account for a further 3.5 million hectares of land under conservation management. Their long term goal is to protect more than seven million hectares by 2025. This will only be possible with our help.

Bush Heritage 2If you need a gift for someone who cares about the environment, how about sending a Bush Heritage WILDgift? Not only does your friend or family member receive a beautiful card featuring stunning photography from the Australian bush, but together, you also make a real and lasting contribution to nature conservation in Australia. For ten dollars you can provide a warm, safe nesting box for the endangered red-tailed phascogale. For twenty-five dollars you can save a slice of the outback, helping to buy one hectare of native habitat. Every hectare makes a difference!




A Victory For Whales

Whales 1Last week the International Court of Justice upheld Australia’s bid to ban Japan’s Antarctic whaling program. Australia argued that the program was commercial whaling in disguise. It was a great day for whales and Tokyo’s ‘scientific whaling’ was finally exposed as a fraud. Japan said it would abide by the decision which is considered legally binding.

Whales 3Founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Paul Watson, says the court’s decision justified the group’s sometimes courageous actions at sea. “I am so pleased that after a decade of anti-whaling campaigns in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, we won’t have to go there again,” he said from his home in Vermont. “We feel vindicated, this has always been an illegal whale hunt, I’ve always felt that way and for the the International Court of Justice to agree and for people to see that this has been the right thing to pursue, well, that’s just great.”

Whales 2Former Greens leader and director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Bob Brown,  listened to the court’s judgment on his car radio in Tasmania and was ready for the worst, he said. “I stopped by the side of the Midland Highway,” Dr Brown said. “I’m used to very long judgments going right back to the Franklin Dam court case, and I’m used to hearing the bad side first up, and the good side last. I was surprised and extremely pleased at how clear and unqualified the ruling was. Of course, the Sea Shepherd stands ready for immediate reaction, stands ready to go in case Japan changes its mind.”

Sea ShepherdSea Shepherd is now challenging the Western Australian government’s decision to cull sharks off its coast in court, an action Dr Brown described as “absurd and bloody “It is almost unbelievable that in this day and age in Australia it would be happening. It destroys the fragile ecosystem and most of these sharks are already threatened.”

So I pay tribute to everyone who has worked so hard to bring about this terrific result. The Rudd government for instigating the action against Japan at the Hague way back in 2010. Former attorney-general Mark Dreyfus for his stellar prosecution of Australia’s case. And the Sea Shepherd, for facing the Japanese whaling fleet head on each summer, risking their lives while most of us were enjoying a Christmas break. Thank you!

For those of you near Melbourne, why not come and welcome the Bob Barker and crew as they finally return home to Williamstown after enduring the longest and most successful Antarctic campaigns to date.
The ship will join the Sam Simon & the Steve Irwin docked at Seaworks.
When: Wednesday 9th April – current ETA is 9am approximately. Check out Sea Shepherd’s Facebook page for possible changes to this arrival time.
Where: Sea Shepherd Australia Operations Base – Seaworks, 2 Ann Street, Williamstown, Victoria.