Congratulations to the winners of this year's Environment Awards!
This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the conservation of the NSW Environment, and courageously challenged Government and non-Government decision-makers, in honour of Myles and Milo Dunphy. Myles Dunphy (1891-1985) campaigned for national parks and wilderness in NSW and Myles’ son, Milo (1928-1996) led the fight to preserve the Colong Caves and the Kanangra-Boyd wilderness.
Joint winner: Haydn Washington
Haydn Washington is a lifelong environmental campaigner and activist and scholar who has written extensively on ecological sustainability and people’s relationship to and dependence on nature.
Over his long career, Washington has worked as an officer for the CSIRO, as Nature Conservation Council director, and director of sustainability in local government. He is currently environmental scientist and adjunct lecturer at the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences at NSW University.
Washington is also the co-director of the Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy (NSW Chapter) and was an organiser of the 2014 Fenner Conference “Addicted to Growth?” at UNSW.
He is author of six books, including Ecosolutions: environmental solutions for the world and Australia (1991), A sense of Wonder (2002), The Wilderness Knot (2009), Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand (2011), Human Dependence on Nature (2013) and Demystifying Sustainability: Towards Positive Steps - 15 Real Solutions (2015). He has also written or co-authored journal articles and edited and contributed to Ecological Economics: Solutions for the Future.
Washington has worked on many iconic environmental campaigns, most notably the Colo Committee campaign to having the Wollemi wilderness declared a national park, the campaign to save the Daintree rainforest, and the campaign to protect the Gardens of Stone, which was achieve this year (2021).
Joint winner: Jan Primrose
Jan Primrose has dedicated years to protecting urban bushland and fighting for community rights in the planning system, preventing or significantly modified several developments in Sydney.
Two of the most notable campaigns she has led include those against the proposed Mirvac redevelopment of the former IBM site at West Pennant Hills and developments at Hornsby Park and Westleigh.
The former IBM site includes pristine bushland, including critically endangered ecological communities. Primrose helped form the Forest in Danger group in 2017 that forced Mirvac to substantially modify its plans, protecting powerful owls and blue gum high forest and Sydney turpentine-ironbark forest. She has also led the charge in Hornsby Park and Westleigh, where she identified critically endangered vegetation communities and held Hornsby Council to account in the planning redevelopment in these areas. She has countered lobbying of mountain bikers with information about the damage mountain bikes cause to remnant bushland.
Over the years, she has served on or helped a range of committees across Sydney, including Protecting Your Suburban Environment Inc., Forest in Danger, Residents Infrastructure Planning Alliance, the Powerful Owl Coalition, Better Planning Network, Friends of Berowra Valley, Galston Area Residents’ Association.
Ziggy Megne Volunteer for the Environment Award
The Nature Conservation Council acknowledges and appreciates the valuable contributions made by countless volunteers in a broad range of capacities in past and present environmental campaigns and efforts to make our world a more sustainable place. The Ziggy Megne Volunteer for the Environment Award celebrates these unsung heroes. The award is given to the most outstanding and inspiring individual who has voluntarily contributed his or her time for the cause of conservation and the environment over the past year.
Winner: Anna Christie
Anna Christie has been a tireless environmental advocate and opponent of the coal and gas industries in NSW and Queensland for many
years, frequently working 10 to 12 hours a day.
She is admired for a level of commitment to the protection of people, nature and environment rarely seen in grassroots activism. She has had a huge influence, quietly working behind the scenes and mentoring emerging environmental activists.
Chrisitie was a founding member of the Leard Forest Research Node, Wando Conservation Group and Northwest Protection Advocacy.
She is well known to the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN), regularly conducting tours to engage students at the frontline of the struggle against coal and gas. She has also been a tireless advocate for First Nations’ cultures.
Christie’s energy, strategic approach and marketing and media skills have been a thorn in the side of the fossil fuel industry for many years.
Allen Strom Hall of Fame Award
The Nature Conservation Council's Hall of Fame was established in memory of the late Allen Strom’s untiring dedication to conservation and education in NSW. Individuals for this award have been actively involved in the conservation movement for many years, have made a constant and invaluable contribution to the environment and have displayed qualities of integrity, reliability and commitment.
Winners: John and Patricia Edwards
Now in their eighties, John and Patricia Edwards both still work full time, volunteering their expertise and energy at an age when most people are enjoying a leisurely retirement.
The couple’s work as conservationists in the Clarence Valley began 35 years ago when they reported a colony of brush-tailed rock-wallabies at Shannon Creek, on what was then “vacant crown land”. Six years later it was declared the Chambigne Nature Reserve.
Then 25 years ago, they took up the fight to try to prevent the Shannon Creek dam being built and formed the Friends of Shannon Creek Action Group.
Unfortunately, the dam was built, but the Friends uncovered dodgy deals and reporting that forced North Coast Water to rewrite its Environmental Impact Statement and provide 1,500ha of compensatory habitat.
John and Pat are a driving force behind the Clarence Environment Centre (CEC), which John began managing in 2005 and where he continues as honorary secretary.
The CEC's logging audits started in 2005, shining a light on breaches of environmental controls and resulting in major fines for logging of old-growth rainforest at Grange State Forest and of endangered coastal floodplain forest at Bungawalbyn.
Other notable campaigns included the Glenugie coal seam gas blockade, the illegal land clearing for blueberries at Halfway Creek, and forest audits that saw Boral's bid for Forest Stewardship Council accreditation thrown out.
The CEC has been the local coordinator for the Land for Wildlife since 2010. Pat keeps all the records and writes all the reports. John does the flora reporting and generation of species lists.
Pat’s experience led to an approach last year by the Environment Department to audit all Wildlife Refuge properties and properties under Voluntary Conservation Agreements in the Clarence Valley LGA.
Pat has been a volunteer member of WIRES for more than 20 years and has served as threatened species recording officer, local branch koala coordinator, and chairperson.
Pat is recognised by the Environment Department for her broad knowledge of koalas in the region and has helped specialist researchers on the North Coast.
Both Pat and John have been on the Committee of the North Coast Environment Council, for which John was treasurer for about a decade.
Eight years ago, the CEC partnered with the Nature Conservation Council on a four-year weed eradication program across 40 properties in the Pillar Valley area and helped deliver what became known as the Upper Coldstream Biodiversity Project, with an annual budget for weed work of $125,000. The Upper Coldstream project has morphed into a fully blown bush regeneration business, employing more than 10 contract workers with a $300,000 budget.
On the botanical front, Pat and John have successfully nominated eight plant species and one plant population to the NSW Scientific Committee for listing as threatened, and were responsible for discovering, co-describing, and naming the Shannon Creek Boronia (Boronia hapalophylla).
Two years ago, John was invited by the Environment Department to be on the flora experts’ panel for the North Coast, assisting with the Saving our Species program.
John and Pat’s whole-hearted efforts to protect the environment have not gone unnoticed. John has been twice nominated for Council’s Citizen of the Year, and Pat and John were awarded the Triumph over Greed Award (TOGA) by the North Coast Environment Council in 2020.
They are also declared Reweavers of the Tapestry, a local award from the National Parks Association and Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition, and declared winners of council’s sustainability awards.
John and Pat were involved in the foundation of the Clarence Catchment Alliance in 2018. John is an executive member of the alliance and is involved in day-to-day actions of the campaign. The CCA is campaigning to stop mineral mining in sensitive areas of the Clarence catchment and is lobbying government to change legislation. John’s reporting of breaches saw a mining exploration company’s activities suspended and a fine imposed.
John contributes articles on environment and conservation and whistle-blowing to newspapers regularly and is active as watchdog for Clarence Valley Council development applications.
John and Pat are motivated by their five grandchildren and the desire to leave them a world as wonderful as the one they grew up in.
Marie Byles Award
This award celebrates a group which has initiated an outstanding new environmental campaign, launched in the last 12 months, and has demonstrated strong commitment and passion for the conservation of the NSW environment, in honour of Marie Byles. Marie Byles (1900-1979), the first female solicitor in NSW and a passionate bushwalker, conservationist, explorer, mountaineer and feminist.
Save Yarra Bay Coalition (Maria Poulos Conklin)
The Save Yarra Bay Coalition was established in 2018 to defend a precious cove within Botany Bay from destruction by a proposed cruise
The group, led by Maria Poulos Conklin, is a rapidly growing movement of local residents, community groups, businesses and other citizens from all over Sydney working to protect this unique ecosystem.
A petition to stop the terminal has more than 13,000 signatures as well as active Facebook, Instagram and Twitter groups. A decision on the terminal is pending.
Botany Bay contains many marine, coastal and estuarine habitats and is home to hundreds of marine species, many of which are threatened.
Dolphins, whales, turtles and fairy penguins are regular visitors.
Molineaux Point is home to a seal colony and the rare pygmy pipefish, which is protected under federal environmental laws.
The cruise ship terminal threatens many of these values and would likely cause coastal erosion, the degradation of wetlands and sea grass beds, and the possible local extinction of species.
Conklin has been the driving the force in rallying and educating the public and local government about these threats.
She has also begun campaigning against the Kamay Ferry, that would land at nearby La Perouse, which would have serious negative impacts on Yarra Bay and Frenchmans Bay.
Nature Conservation Council Member Group Award
This award is given to a Member Group of the Nature Conservation Council which has demonstrated outstanding commitment and success in the conservation of the NSW environment.
Winner: Sutherland Shire Environment Centre
Established in 1991 by historian and environmental activist Bob Walshe and a group of passionate volunteers, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre has driven many campaigns in and around Sutherland Shire, including opposing:
- Expansion of Lucas Heights waste depot as Sydney’s megatip (1992).
- Expansion of Helensburgh that would have polluted the Royal National Park (1994).
- The Metromix proposal to mine huge quantities of sand off-shore from Botany Bay, Cronulla and the Royal National Park (1994).
- Building Sydney’s second airport at Holsworthy (1997).
- A co-generation plant at Kurnell that would have damaged Botany Bay (1998).
- Construction of the M6 which would split the Shire in two.
- Development of 3,000 homes in West Menai.
Over the past two years, SSEC has campaigned to:
- Stop mining under Woronora Reservoir.
- Raised public awareness of the local koala population and promoted road safety and wildlife corridors with Transport for NSW and local council.
- Maintain the proposed Sutherland-to-Cronulla Active Transport Link maintained and built beside the railway corridor as originally planned and promised.
Rising Star Award
This award is given to a young individual under the age of 30, who has demonstrated outstanding effort and commitment to the conservation of the NSW environment.
Winner: Joshua Gilbert
Josh Gilbert is the Indigenous Co-Chair of Reconciliation NSW. Josh is driving an agenda to develop a sustainable organisation that protects the rights and interests of Indigenous people through reconciliation.
This includes environmental and agricultural interests for Indigenous communities. Mr Gilbert has been included on panel sessions for NAIDOC Week, with the theme Heal Country, for Reconciliation NSW.
He presented to Cancer Australia, PwC Australia and Services Australia for NAIDOC Week in 2021, reaching thousands of people across NSW and beyond.
He is the first Aboriginal person to conduct higher degree research in the agricultural sector, exploring the role of Indigenous identity and culture through Western agriculture, post colonisation.
Mr Gilbert is developing a new narrative in the agricultural sector that represents Indigenous agricultural interests that have a strong links to environmental land management and stewardship.
He was instrumental in campaigning against the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Legislation that has led to broad acre land clearing.
Mr Gilbert resigned as chairperson of NSW Young Farmers over that organisation’s stance on that issue and worked with conservation groups to advocate against these policy changes.
He developed the first pro-active climate change policy of a political farming organisation that recognised that farmers were on the frontlines of climate change.
This led to him attending the Paris Climate Change summit as a representative of the agricultural sector.
Mr Gilbert was a founding member of Farmers for Climate Action in Australia.
Jack Mundey Award
This award is given to a person or group who has contributed the most to cooperation between the conservation movement and the trade union movement. In honour of Jack Mundey (1929 – 2020) who was a visionary who understood the struggles for social justice and environmental justice are part of the same broader project — to preserve human dignity in the face of unconstrained development.
Winner: Georgina Woods
After years of campaigning in the Hunter to raise awareness of the harm caused by coal and the Hunter's role in global coal markets, George
Woods has been instrumental fostering a trusting and cooperative working relationship between environment groups and unions.
The Hunter Jobs Alliance aims to ensure the future of mining communities and workers is considered well in advance of the transition to clean energy.
Woods continues to make an outstanding contribution to the economic diversification of the Hunter Valley through her work with Lock the Gate, Hunter Renewal and the Hunter Jobs Alliance, leading Lock the Gate's work on this project.
She is passionate about the long-term future of the Hunter and committed to ensuring a positive future.
Every year, the Nature Conservation Council hosts the NSW Environment Awards which celebrate the outstanding commitment and achievement of campaigners, grassroots environmentalists and conservation groups across the state.
This year's awards covered 2020 and 2021 and a new award has been added in honour of the late Jack Mundey, leader of the Green Bans movement that saved environmental areas and heritage. This award is for the person or group who has contributed the most to cooperation between the conservation movement and the trade union movement. Jack Mundey was a leader in the conservation movement in NSW and we hope to immortalise his work in the field and encourage others to follow in his path through this award.
The panel of judges for this years NSW Environment Awards were Don White, Chair of the Nature Conservation Council; Bob Debus, President of the Colong Foundation; Wendy Harmer, life member of the Surfrider Foundation; Sue McKinnon, from McKinnon Family Foundation; and Steph Cunio, from United Workers’ Union, formerly of the Climate Action Network.
Nominations close on the 18th of October so make sure to get your nominations in! We’re very excited to bring the awards back this year and will be holding the ceremony after our Annual Conference on the 6th of November.