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Conservation volunteers earn praise

04/12/2007

Conservation project volunteers were today singled out as the champions of helping protect reserves managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) in the state's north.

PWS general manager Peter Mooney praised the helpers at a celebration of their work called "Behind the Vision" in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston.

Mr Mooney said they were making a significant contribution in assisting the PWS to protect and conserve the natural, cultural and historical values of the many reserves in northern Tasmania.

"In the north of the state alone, there are 63 volunteer groups as well as nearly 600 individual volunteers," Mr Mooney said.

"Many of our volunteer programs are collaborative efforts with locals NRMs, Wildcare, Landcare, CoastCare, local councils, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Green Corps."

Mr Mooney said volunteers contribute more than 20,000 hours per month (in northern Tasmania) to projects that deliver conservation gains that cannot be achieved by the PWS alone.

"Volunteers participate in activities as diverse as operating the Tamar Island Wetlands Centre to weed management and revegetation on coastal reserves and remote islands," he said.

"Their efforts vary from spending several hours to a full day at a working bee to commitments of up to two months on Deal Island."

Mr Mooney said that with the changing demographics of Australian society, there was an increasing number of early retirees who have the time, interest and enthusiasm to participate in conservation programs on land in their neighbourhood as well as more remote locations.

"In holding this event we wanted to publicly recognise the significant contribution made by volunteers and highlight the value the PWS places on relationships with the local community," he said.

"We'd also like to highlight the fact that we value each and every volunteer, regardless of the size of the project."
The PWS created several specialist volunteer coordinator positions about five years ago.

"I'm convinced that having those roles has made a big difference, particularly in the way we work with community groups," Mr Mooney said.

"Previously, there were lots of groups working independently, but the Parks and Wildlife Service just didn't have the capacity to engage with them.

"I believe that now, thanks to the efforts of our three volunteer coordinators, Jaqui Scarborough, Craig Saunders and Caroline Shemwell, both PWS staff and community groups better recognise the value of these partnerships."