Wildlife champions are reflecting on the blood, sweat and triumphs of the last two decades as South East Queensland’s iconic Land for Wildlife program commemorates its 20th anniversary in October.
Since 1998, the voluntary Land for Wildlife program – which Healthy Land and Water has coordinated in SEQ since 2004 – has encouraged and helped landholders to create and maintain wildlife habitats in their own backyards.
Land for Wildlife is South East Queensland’s (SEQ) most successful conservation program and now boasts more than 4400 properties equating to about 7000 members.
- The inaugural Land for Wildlife program was created by the Victorian Government in 1981
- The South East Queensland Land for Wildlife program was launched in 1998
- 20 years on, the SEQ Land for Wildlife program is the largest and most recognised voluntary private land conservation program in Australia
- There are 4400 Land for Wildlife properties in SEQ
- The program has over 7000 members in SEQ
- Land for Wildlife properties make up 10 per cent of all protected ecosystems in SEQ
Among those celebrating the milestone is Richard ‘Dick’ Tumman, one of Land for Wildlife’s inaugural members and a man who has dedicated many years of his life to restoring the environment.
Dick grew up in the Australian bush and developed a love for the land early on.
He forged a career as a geotechnician working on mining and constructions sites around the world, but he eventually became unhappy after witnessing the destruction of the environment through the course of his work.
Dick soon decided it was time to return to Australia and give back to nature.
In 1975, Dick purchased a picturesque, 20-acre slice of hilly land overlooking Upper Gold Creek Valley at Brookfield, west of Brisbane.
He named it Wongaburra, and when Dick took over the land all those years ago, it was far from the splendid nature refuge it is today.
The land was previously used to run horses, and by 1975 had become overrun with weeds including groundsel and lantana and pest animals like wild dogs and foxes.
It took many weekends and years of hard work to clear the weeds from large swaths of Wongaburra and revegetate the land with native plant species.
Slowly, the native species began to return, and Dick’s project to transform Wongaburra intensified in 1986 when he built a home on the land and moved in with his family.
Dick and his wife joined Land for Wildlife when it first launched in 1998, and Dick said the program and his fellow members have provided invaluable support over the years.
“The best part of being a Land for Wildlife member is being able to share information, learn from other experienced people and build relationships with your neighbours,” Dick said.
“It’s a great way of keeping people together and on the same path. We’re all passionate about protecting the environment and when you work together, you can get more done.”
Most of Dick’s neighbours are Land for Wildlife members, and Dick said they often help each other propagate trees, identify native species and find and manage weeds as part of a shared mission to create vital wildlife corridors in the Brisbane area.
More than 40 years after Tummans first took over the land, Wongaburra is now a self-sufficient nature habitat, filled with the sounds of singing birds and the scurry of native animals.
If you’re lucky you’ll spot brush-tailed phascogales, or red-legged pademelons, or maybe even pheasant coucals flitting amongst towering native trees that Dick has painstakingly nurtured for decades.
“It’s satisfying to see what we’ve all achieved over the years and how much the region around here has improved,” he said.
“It’s a legacy I want to pass onto my children.”
Healthy Land and Water Chief Executive Officer Julie McLellan congratulated Land for Wildlife on its 20-year milestone and said the program delivers an incredible contribution to the environment.
“From humble beginnings, Land for Wildlife has grown into a program helping to conserve over 75,000 hectares of land throughout SEQ,” she said.
“Because a large proportion of the bushland in SEQ is privately owned, the Land for Wildlife program is absolutely critical in ensuring we are able to protect our unique biodiversity.”
“I’d like to acknowledge all past and present Land for Wildlife members for your contribution over the last two decades and for the support of our valued SEQ local government partners for ensuring the program remains a success.”
To learn more about Land for Wildlife visit www.lfwseq.org.au