On Wednesday 16 November 2016, Greening Australia hosted a Friends of Conservation event. Intended to provide an opportunity for Greening Australia supporters (government, business, members and donors) to meet with Greening Australia’s Board, key staff and advisory councils in a cocktail reception setting to network, the event also allowed guests to share ideas and stories of success in conservation and restoration of Australian landscapes for people and nature to thrive.
Professor Tom Healy, Board Member of The Ian Potter Foundation, was invited to speak about the Foundation's long history of support for environment and conservation projects and in particular the reasons for its support of Greening Australia.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to say a few words about the importance of philanthropic funding to achieve successful environmental outcomes.
First, let me thank Greening Australia for bringing us all together. I will say something in a moment as to why we have worked with and funded Greening Australia.
It was a $1 million grant in 1982, which enabled the Potter Farmland Plan, that set the direction for the Foundation’s future environment and conservation funding.
This visionary grant focused on supporting and working with a group of farmers in the Western District of Victoria to achieve sustainable farm management practices. The Potter Farmland Plan ultimately contributed to the creation of Australia’s Landcare movement.
Let me illustrate our philosophy by saying a few words about two projects we have funded with Greening Australia.
The Ian Potter Foundation support allowed Greening Australia to start a modest project targeting recovery of remnant native grass areas in the important farming communities of the Tasmanian Midlands. Our $1 million grant was used to leverage a further $5 million from government, business and other donors to restore over 1,000 hectares of critical biodiversity habitat. This is now being ramped up to a $25 million program to create over 5,000 hectares of new habitat for Eastern Barred Bandicoots, Eastern Bettongs and Tasmanian Devils.
I congratulate Greening Australia for their outstanding work in the Tasmanian midlands. That is the good news.
Sadly there is bad news. You may have seen the 'Lateline' report of yesterday which noted the following.
In a country with one of the highest land clearing rates in the world, laws making it easier for farmers to clear native vegetation from their properties are expected to be passed in New South Wales within days.
Indeed a sad commentary.
I now move to another Greening Australia project of which we at The Ian Potter Foundation are a partner. You have seen some of that Great Barrier Reef project in the video just presented.
Our Foundation's support of $1 million has enabled Greening Australia to secure matched funding from the Australian and Queensland Governments and other donors. They have now secured $7 million toward a $20 million campaign to manage water loss from riparian zones along the Queensland coast to improve water quality run-off to encourage resilience of the Great Barrier Reef to the impacts of climate change.
Key recent grants that epitomize the Foundation’s approach to environment and conservation funding in the recent past also include:
- the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists: to develop their environmental accounts program.
- the Australian Environmental Grantmakers' Network in support of their important work to link environment and conservation groups to funders
- the Australian Wildlife Conservancy: our grant assisted the AWC to win the right to manage National Parks in NSW & QLD and to train indigenous land managers.
- funding for Climate Works at Monash University to support their work with the private sector to control greenhouse gas emissions from industrial and urban workplaces.
Finally, let me note that while our support is often focused on private land assets across Australia, that holding represents the vast majority of the land. However, we also work with State and National park enterprises to support their management of our National Parks.
Our hope is that both the private and public land assets of Australia are conserved for future generations.