2008 Port Phillip and Western Port Landcare Awards
Environmental community group, Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater, have won the Community Group Caring for Public Land Award at the 2008 Port Phillip and Western Port Landcare Awards held at Zinc, Federation Square today.
The Group was selected from seven outstanding nominations from among the more than 230 ‘Friends of’ Groups within the Port Phillip and Western Port region, which encompasses Melbourne and its surrounding catchments.
The Awards celebrate Landcare Heroes and focus on the thousands of volunteers making a difference by tackling some of the big issues in Melbourne’s landscape and catchment environments.
Chief Executive Officer of the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority Mr David Buntine said 200-strong Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater continue to be leaders in their field.
The Group’s aim is to improve biodiversity health in the Woori Yallock Creek Catchment, focusing on restoration and expansion of habitat for the Helmeted Honeyeater in and around the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve.
“Since formation 19 years ago Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater has brought Victoria’s endangered bird emblem from only 40 birds in the wild to an estimated 110,” Mr Buntine said.
“The Group is widely recognised for excellence and innovation in conservation activities and has developed strategic links with other organisations, established an indigenous nursery producing 50,000 plans per year for restoration of public and private land,” Mr Buntine said.
“Their contribution in the Yarra Valley and particularly in the Yellingbo area has been significant, and their enthusiasm and commitment as a group continues to make outstanding difference to the protection of local flora and fauna.”
While releasing young captive-bred Helmeted Honeyeaters into the wild provides euphoria and a motivation for this dedicated group, co-ordinator Bruce Tardif says it’s the comprehensive planning and programs that are the substance of its success in conservation and Landcare.
“The HeHo (Helmeted Honeyeater) symbol is well recognised, but it’s the Group’s wider focus on conservation, its educational programs and the engagement of private landowners - which is not always easy - that are important to the long term achievements,” co-ordinator Bruce Tardif says.
“Working with the Macclesefield Landcare Group we support and encourage landholders on either side of the Yellingbo Reserve with planting, gaining Land for Wildlife status, conservation funding and covenance agreements. “
Collaboration with Macclesfield Landcare in 2005 saw the Group develop a Local Area Plan and implement biodiversity action plans that were supported by State Government and the PPWCMA.
Mr Tardif, a former bank manager, who has taken on nature conservation as a career, said he and his wife Sue are responsible for taking the Group’s education programs to hundreds of students in a year, with education days taking the message into the communities.
Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater are a major stakeholder in the PPWCMA’s environmental project Yarra4Life, playing a vital role in the creation of a biolink connecting Yellingbo with the Dandenongs and Kurth Kiln Parks.
Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater will now be nominated for the 2009 Victorian Landcare Awards.