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Sydney’s environmental champions celebrated

MORE than 100 of Sydney’s most dedicated environmental champions are set to be celebrated tomorrow as part of Greater Sydney Local Land Services Regional Landcare Bushcare forum.

The event will see representatives from Sydney’s 1000 bush and land care groups, made up of 10,000 volunteers, converge on Olympic Park for a day of field trips, community presentations and guest speakers.

Greater Sydney Local Land Services Regional Landcare Coordinator Vanessa Keyzer said it was an exciting time for volunteers and Landcare as a whole.

“Sydney is home to the largest number of bushcare and landcare groups in the whole of NSW, together they make up one third of all groups in the State and one sixth of all groups in the country,” she said. “The contribution they make to protect the environment is invaluable and today gives us a chance to give them something back.”

Ms Keyzer said the announcement of the NSW Government’s $15 million Landcare Policy 2015 – 2017 earlier this year has breathed new life into the organisation.

“Sydney will soon be home to five new Local Landcare Coordinators who will be on the ground throughout our region responding to our local environmental priorities and the unique challenges that come as a result of our high population density and eclectic mix of coastal and estuarine landscapes, river valleys and beaches.”

Pittwater resident Marita Macrae is very familiar with Sydney’s various environmental challenges. A volunteer since 1989, Marita has been behind some major revegetation projects in the area including founding the group behind the rehabilitation of the Avalon Dunes.

Almost 30 years later Marita continues to dedicate more than 20 hours a month to five different environmental groups.

“I remember starting work on the Avalon Dunes in 1989. Eighty per cent of the area was covered in bitou bush and erosion was evident. We set about stabilising the dunes and revegetating the area with native plant species. Back then we pulled the weeds out by hand. By 2007 with support through various funding grants the area completely transformed into the beautiful beach backdrop it is today.”

Marita said the support of government through funding and grant assistance was crucial to the success and longevity of the groups and their projects.

“We all have a responsibility to care for our environment and without the combined effort of volunteers, Local Land Services and Landcare it simply wouldn’t be possible,” she said.

Media contact: Nikki McGrath (02) 4724 2138 M: 0448 953 755