• Tony Bosworth

Hawkesbury landcare and bushcare groups hailed as “unsung heroes of our environment”

Landcare and bushcare volunteers in the Hawkesbury have continued to rally for the local environment despite the challenges brought on by Covid-19, fires and floods.

A Greater Sydney Local Land Services survey has found volunteer groups contributed more than 2510 hours of environmental service in the 2019/20 financial year.

Greater Sydney Regional Landcare Coordinator Madeleine Florin said the work equated to around $104,000 worth of conservation efforts to protect and restore the area’s natural environment.

“The Hawkesbury is home to 16 groups compromising of more than 150 regular and casual volunteers carrying out activities including bush regeneration, tree planting, community education and advocacy work,” she said.

“Local groups are coordinated by the Hawkesbury-Nepean Landcare Network who have been working with the Hawkesbury Environment Network to assess the health of 30 wetlands in the area.

“This project will provide great insight for landcare and local landholders on how to best protect and restore wetlands.”

Ms Florin said the latest data showed nearly 1000 groups engaged in bushcare or landcare activities, with 8850 regular volunteers and 4700 one-off volunteers, contributing more than 150,000 hours of environmental work across the Greater Sydney region.

“This equates to an incredible $6.3m in in-kind labour costs which is a truly remarkable achievement given the lockdown and impact of Covid-19 in 2020 which we estimate reduced the total number of volunteer work by about 50,000,” she said.

“Overall the number of active volunteers increased by 13 per cent compared to the last survey in 2017-18 and there was a 20 per cent increase in hours contributed.”

Ms Florin said landcare and bushcare volunteers were crucial to the protection and maintenance of our unique natural environment.

“They are very much the unsung heroes of our natural environment, working quietly behind the scenes purely for the love and passion for what they do,” she said.

GS LLS provided $220,814 to landcare and bushcare groups, supporting them to continue work restoring and maintaining environmental assets. Funding was provided to the groups via the NSW Landcare Program, the NSW Environment Trust Every Bit Counts Program, Catchment Action NSW, and the National Landcare Program.

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