Volunteers from across the Territory gathered last Saturday (12 August) for the first ACT Environmental Volunteer Conference, which recognises the significant role that volunteers play in protecting and enhancing the natural environment in Canberra.
Minister for the Environment, Rebecca Vassarotti said that volunteers and citizen scientists are essential to protecting threatened species and ecosystems in the territory.
“Canberrans have such a strong connection to the environment, and we’re fortunate that we have so many people ready to step up and make positive contributions for our wildlife and our community wellbeing,” Minister Vassarotti said.
“We’re in a climate crisis, and the extinction of just one species is a sign of greater ecological collapse. Our environmental volunteers play a significant role in stopping these extinctions in their tracks.
“Saturday’s speakers included experts in environmental conservation and connection, including Professor Mark Howden from ANU, celebrated author Professor Bruce Pascoe, and Dr Kathy Eyles from the National Parks and Conservation Trust among many others.
“Having this calibre of speaker available to meet and engage with our volunteers shows the significant role of volunteers on the national stage.
“In the ACT alone, we have around 100 active environmental volunteer groups, providing over 300,000 hours of work each year, helping us manage and respond to emerging issues, build our climate resilience, and propel Canberra as a leader in conservation.
“Volunteers help in so many ways, from obvious things like planting trees that help build habitats for our local native wildlife, to researching and advocating for issues that will help fight the climate crisis and further safeguard the environment.
“We rely on findings and data from our citizen scientists to inform best practice activities and management strategies in the ACT, build government policies, and assist with developing and improving programs both within the Territory and on the national stage.
“The ACT Government will continue to invest in our volunteers, our community, and the environment with $13 million over the next four years allocated in this year’s budget to protecting, conserving and restoring Canberra’s natural environment and waterways.
"Given the huge interest and success of the conference, the ACT Government will continue to work with Landcare to program future conferences and other community partnership events that engage Canberra's wonderful environmental volunteers".
“I’m incredibly grateful to the many Canberrans that volunteer their time, energy, resources, and passion into making Canberra such a wonderful place to live and work.”
Learn more about environmental volunteers and how you can get involved on the ACT Environment website, or on the Landcare ACT website.
Quote attributable to Dr Maxine Cooper, Independent Chair of Landcare ACT
“The Landcare movement has been working tirelessly to restore, enhance and protect the natural environment right across the nation for over 30 years. With almost 100 local volunteer landcare groups across the Capital region, active community engagement in this essential work has never been greater.”
"As we come to the end of Landcare Week, we are delighted to celebrate landcarers across the ACT at this sold-out event, with over 200 volunteers and supporting staff in attendance. Their contributions to actively restoring, enhancing and protecting their local natural environments are critical as we work together to protect and restore the natural assets and resilience of our bush capital in the face of a changing climate."
Quote attributable to Professor Mark Howden, keynote speaker, Director of the Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions at The Australian National University
“An event like this is not only about sharing information but also about building social capital, which is so critical for addressing the challenges of a changing climate."
Quote attributable to Dr Jamie Pittock, Professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University
"Environmental volunteers are doing fantastic work on the frontline of climate adaptation, which is really a sign of the strength of our community.”