Australian private-sector cooperation for wetlands

14/03/2001

$1.5 million Business – Conservation Group partnership launched to rehabilitate 100 Australian wetlands

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In the tranquil surrounds of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens last Friday the 9th of March was an historic launch of a new partnership between one of Australia’s biggest industrial companies – BHP - and our largest conservation organization – Conservation Volunteers Australia. And, what made it special was that wetlands will be the beneficiary of this partnership valued at around Aus$1.5 million over three years.

aus-revive2.jpg (46241 bytes)The program is called ‘Revive! our Wetlands’ and was launched with appropriate gospel singing, brightly dressed children, a giant damsel fly (with a person inside) and dignitaries in gumboots!! While this may all sounds whimsical it was a serious occasion, albeit more a celebration, as Paul Anderson the Managing Director and CEO of BHP announced that they will provide Conservation Volunteers Australia with $1.5m to support teams of volunteers going out to Revive ! 100 of Australia’s most important wetlands. This support will translate into more than 14,000 volunteer-days of hands-on work at these sites to see them returned to their former ‘health’. Along with this, the program will see seven wetland environment officers trained around the country.

Mr Anderson advised that in addition to BHP’s support for this work by Conservation the company will also be encouraging its many thousands of workers to become part of the project. It’s understood one of the sites to be restored is close by one of BHP’s steelworks at Port Kembla/Wollongong just south of Sydney. In a leadership initiative Mr Anderson indicated that BHP had decided that from now on they have the target to contribute the equivalent of 1% of pre-tax profit to community development programs and partnerships. Come on you other multinationals out there – let’s see you match BHP’s offering.

In attendance at the launch was Australia’s Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Robert Hill. He congratulated both BHP and Conservation Volunteers Australia for this initiative and expressed the hope that other companies and conservation organizations would seek to undertake similar partnerships. The press release issued by the Minister indicates that he plans to write to 200 of Australia’s other top companies urging them to follow BHPs lead.

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At the launch ceremonies: Federal Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill (left), President of Conservation Volunteers Australia, Ms Susan Campbell (centre), and CEO of BHP, Paul Anderson (right)

Footnote – this report, photos and other materials was provided by Dr Bill Phillips, whom some may recall as the former Deputy Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention. Bill Phillips has been retained as an advisor to Conservation Volunteers Australia to help them with implementing the Revive! program. If you want to learn about this program, you can check out www.reviveourwetlands.net or contact Bill Phillips at Bill.Phillips@bigpond.com

-- reported by Bill Phillips, Australia

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