2023 Greater Sydney Regional Landcare Awards

The 2023 Greater Sydney Regional Landcare Award winners were announced at ‘Connectivity’, the 2023 Greater Sydney Landcare Forum and Awards.

Thank you to all who nominated the outstanding selection of groups, partnerships and individuals.

Congratulations to the following winners and highly commended.

Landcare Community Group Winner – CEN Wildplant Community Nursery

CEN Wildplant Community Nursery has provided the Central Coast community with provenance plants endemic to the area since 2009. The nursery stocks plants that are either rescued or propagated onsite and run almost entirely by volunteers. Volunteers are trained in seed collection, seed banking, propagation and care. Through online bulk orders for major regeneration programs and monthly sale days, the Wildplant Community Nursery plays a pivotal role in protecting the survival of endemic flora across the Central Coast. The nursery works with many community groups, including local Landcare, Bushcare and Dunecare groups, local community gardens, schools, councils, state government agencies and corporations. Today the group is much more than just a community nursery. The nursery is a hub for the local community to find environmental information, join workshops, volunteer and learn from monthly talks from professionals and knowledgeable locals.

Landcare Community Group Highly Commended – Galong Creek Bushcare

The Galong Creek Bushcare Group, supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, has been active for 15 years. South of Blackheath, Galong Creek flows through Green Gully in the Megalong Valley and the Blue Mountains National Park into the Cox's River. Many of the group’s volunteers were actively involved in the successful campaign to raise funds for National Parks to acquire the site (previously Carlons Farm) through the Dunphy Wilderness Fund 1998. When the group formed in 2006, they were initially concerned with weeds infesting the creek lines and walking tracks connecting Carlons Farm with the Coxs River. The group saw the potential for revegetating the 12 hectares of cleared farm paddocks and reconnecting the forest fragmented by agricultural use. The group has employed staged planting on the cleared land and gradually transformed weed-infested grassland into a native eucalypt forest. They have revegetated steep slopes to address erosion and manage priority weeds. The group is building a relationship with the 4WD Association of NSW and is working to encourage a greater sense of environmental stewardship amongst the 4WD community. The long-term and unwavering commitment of the Galong Creek Bushcare volunteers is evident through the improved resilience and connectivity between once-farm land and an intact native forest.

Landcare Community Group Highly Commended – Little Wheeny Creek Landcare

In 2019, a group of neighbouring landholders along Kurrajong’s Little Wheeny Creek united to restore koala habitat and create the Kurrajong Koala Corridor. The Little Wheeny Creek Landcare group, with support from Hawkesbury-Nepean Landcare Network, applied for funding from Local Land Services for on-ground restoration works. In a relatively short time, the group has expanded to about 20 private landholders connecting and restoring about 30 hectares of land. The group protects and enhances the habitat for one of the most genetically diverse koala populations in Australia and manages the critically endangered Western Sydney Dry Rainforest. The group meets for working bees on each other’s properties, and property walks and talks, plant identification training and social activities. They supplement their labour with professional bush regeneration works, engage with the broader community, and participate in scientific research tracking and monitoring koalas.

Coastcare Winner – Clean4shore

Clean4shore has been mobilising volunteers, especially students, to remove litter from waterways since 2010. Clean4shore achieves educational and environmental outcomes. Clean4shore operates in the Hawkesbury River, Brisbane Waters, Tuggerah Lakes and the Hunter River. Between 2014 and 2022, Clean4shore has worked with 28 different schools, community and youth organisations and partnered with Floating Landcare. They organised 815 litter collection trips involving more than 5000 volunteers and removed more than 529 tonnes of litter. Clean4shore carefully documents and reports on all activities and contributes to greater engagement from the public and agencies such as Central Coast Council. Clean4shore is tackling the massive impacts of plastics, polystyrene and marine debris on native marine life. Their efforts are reducing entanglement risk and improving visual amenities and safety for swimmers and fishers.

Coastcare Highly Commended – Friends of Bungan

Friends of Bungan works on an 8.65 ha reserve to protect and conserve Bungan Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The group's roots go back to 1969 when resident Betty Morrison left her property to the community to protect the coastal environment in perpetuity. The Bungan Reserve Management Committee was renamed Friends of Bungan in 1995. For the past 25 years, Friends of Bungan have been restoring a degraded dune system and tackling weeds, pest animals, including domestic dogs, and illegal dumping. The group has partnered with councils, schools, and local businesses, engaged the local community and raised funds to enable professional bush regeneration works on site. The group has transformed the once degraded site into a functioning ecosystem that is home to a range of species, including Powerful Owl, Sooty Oyster Catchers, White-Face Herons, sea eagles, Nankeen Kestrels, Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos, water dragons, swamp wallabies, seals, and turtles.

Partnerships for Landcare – Land For Wildlife

Land For Wildlife is a non-statutory registration scheme for landholders who wish to manage conservation values on their property. The scheme started in Victoria in 1981 and extended to other states, including NSW, in 1997. The Community Environment Network (CEN) on the Central Coast has been coordinating the delivery of Land For Wildlife in NSW and the ACT since 2008. At a local level, CEN partners with regional providers to deliver the program in 70 LGAs. Regional providers are trained and supported by CEN. In 2021, Land For Wildlife trained many Landcare groups and networks as regional providers to expand the program in the Greater Sydney region. Hawkesbury Environment Network, Cattai Hills Environment Network, Mulgoa Valley Landcare and Greater Sydney Landcare are supported by Land For Wildlife to conduct site assessments and provide management advice to landholders in their respective areas. LFW successfully activates private landholders to practice conservation on their land. In many instances, Land For Wildlife provides landholders an opening into the Landcare community and is a stepping stone to higher conservation agreements with the Biodiversity Conservation Trust.

Individual Landcarer Winner – Bev Debrincat

Bev Debrincat is an individual landcarer with activities that span her local area, Greater Sydney and NSW. Bev has been involved in Bushland management since 1995. Bev and fellow Hunters Hill Flora and Fauna Preservation Society members are responsible for starting the City of Ryde’s Bushcare Program in the late 1990s. In 2003, Bev started the Habitat Network. With the Habitat Network, Bev has partnered with communities and councils for many small bird habitat corridor projects resulting in kilometres of habitat corridors in a highly urban environment. Through the Habitat Network, Bev also worked to establish the Habitat Community Nursery and Food Garden in 2012. Bev was a founding member and currently chairs Greater Sydney Landcare. Bev has represented Greater Sydney on the Landcare NSW Council since 2015, making sure Greater Sydney is on the NSW Landcare map. Bev keeps busy with on-ground works with two bushcare groups and a nursery, educational talks on small bird habitat, and committee work with Greater Sydney Landcare and advisory work with Landcare NSW! Bev’s commitment to on-ground work and partnership building make Bev’s contributions to Landare genuinely outstanding.

Junior Landcare Team Winner – Lorien Novalis Landcare

Lorien Novalis is a K to 12 Steiner School in Dural with an awesome Landcare group. The Landcare group started after a group of Year 9 students removed an infestation of Lantana from the bushland at the back of the school during class time. This grew into a Landcare group involving students, families and teachers. Now, 15-25 dedicated school community members join Lorien Landcare working bees. With support from Hawkesbury-Nepean Landcare Network and Cattai Hills Environment Network, Lorien Landcare is addressing woody weed challenges in bushland, an important habitat for many species, including Powerful Owls and Platypus in the creek. Bi-monthly working bees involving weeding and planting where appropriate are informed by the weed management plan they developed with Hawkesbury River County Council. They are taking a holistic approach and addressing nutrient and runoff issues with a rain garden on the school grounds. Lorien Landcare is demonstrating what stewardship means, improving threatened species' habitat and teaching students and community to care for remnant urban bushland.

Young Landcare Leader Winner – Lilian Wycisk

Lilian is keen and passionate about sharing ecological knowledge of the Cumberland Plain and works hard to encourage others to join in on its restoration. With a few years of experience as a volunteer and as a professional, Lilian’s contribution to Landcare in Western Sydney is appreciable. Lilian’s combination of communication and ecological restoration skills enables her to share her passion and interest with a wide audience and encourage others to get involved. Lilian is the creator of the Wildflowers of Western Sydney Facebook group, where she painstakingly shares accurate and beautiful species information. It is not uncommon to find Lilian out on the Cumberland Plain with a camera capturing species endemic to the area. And while not taking photos, Lillian is a dedicated Bushcare volunteer at several sites on the Cumberland Plain. All of Lilly’s work contributes to greater awareness and appreciation of the threatened ecological communities of western Sydney.

Young Landcare Leader Highly Commended – Jude Bennett

Jude is a year 10 student at Katoomba High School keen on growing sustainable food with regenerative practices. 3.5 years ago, with a broken foot, Jude was inspired by a Gardening Australia episode featuring Farm it Forward. This episode sparked his mission to connect with like-minded communities and environmentally oriented projects and kick-started his productive garden. Jude has volunteered for many dynamic and community-based initiatives over several years, including supporting the running of a community kitchen and up-skilling others in sustainable food practices. Jude led Katoomba High School’s initiative to set up a Farm it Forward plot and continues to work with his peers and share knowledge on growing sustainable food. Jude’s passion and talent for education and sustainable food production have been picked up by Costa from Gardening Australia. Look out for Jude as he presents as a guest on a youth-focused series of episodes.

Landcare Farming Winner – Farm it Forward

Farm It Forward is an innovative and leading organisation putting the principles of regenerative agriculture and social enterprise into practice here in the Blue Mountains. In a few short years, they have achieved financial stability, meaningful social outcomes and are working towards environmental resilience.  Farm it Forward connects young people passionate about growing food with landowners with space to create a market garden. Farm it Forward inspires and is a practical model for others to follow. Farm it Forward addresses social isolation and nurturing the mental health of those involved. At the same time, the cumulative impacts of Farm it Forward’s growing practices, including no-dig techniques, companion plantings, and using matured compost, have seen measurable improvements in the soil health on each site. They are contributing to more robust and more resilient local food systems.

If you have any questions, contact Madeleine Florin, Regional Landcare Coordinator on 0427197860 or madeleine.florin@lls.nsw.gov.au.

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