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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

2 March 2000


Bellingen Island Landcare Group, from the New South Wales North Coast, received top honours at the International Landcare 2000 Conference Awards last night for their efforts to rehabilitate Bellingen Island, home to 70,000 grey-headed flying foxes.

Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, presented the volunteers with the Bushcare National Conservation Award for their efforts over the past 15 years to restore and protect a tract rare lowland subtropical rainforest.

"Recognising and celebrating the hard work of volunteer land carers, like the Bellingen Island Landcare Group, is crucial. Like thousands of other groups around Australia they represent the heart and soul of natural resource management in Australia," Sharman Stone said.

"Over hundreds of hours the Bellingen Island Landcare Group has worked to remove massive infestations of Maderia Vine and Wandering Jew and replant the area with fast-growing native species sourced and propagated on-site."

"The group's work has kick-started the natural regeneration process, resulting in an increase in native scrubs and ferns, improved tree canopy cover and the discovery of a new native herb species."

A group of eight local residents formed a working party in 1984. They attribute their success to the "'natural selection' of persistent weeders, and maintenance, maintenance, maintenance!"

The site is now used as a learning centre by schools, local residents and tourists, with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service conducting tours throughout summer.

Other finalists in the Bushcare Nature Conservation Award included Bend Island Conservation Association (Vic), farmer Adam Clark (Qld), Trees for Life (SA), Malleefowl Preservation Group (WA), Katherine Landcare Group (NT), North-east Coast Landcare Group (Tas) and Greening Australia's Community Nursery (ACT).

"The Federal Government is delighted with the commitment that local communities have made to environmental protection and sustainable agriculture through these projects. They represent the most outstanding work done over the past year," Sharman Stone said.

Dr Stone said project work undertaken by the finalists had been supported by the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust, the single largest investment in the environment by any Australian Government.

Media Inquiries:
Simon Frost, 0419 219 415

Commonwealth of Australia