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From the CEO: World Parks Congress, Sydney

Published 21 Dec 2014 

Gerard O'NeillCEO Gerard O'Neill. Photo by Peter Morris.

It was with great pride that I recently led a delegation of staff from Bush Heritage in attending the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney.

This once‑in‑a‑decade event brought together our peers from around the globe and I was very proud to present our work in this context – on our home soil but a global stage.

The congress brought together conservation leaders with a refreshing range of perspectives and, for those interested but unable to attend, many of the best presentations and resources have been made available online and are well worth exploring (see

Highlights for me were the strong representation from diverse indigenous groups and their incredible traditional knowledge, as well as a much stronger presence from private conservation groups.

While attending the congress we also enjoyed the announcement that the Midlands Conservation Fund (MCF), developed by Bush Heritage Australia and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) had won the Banksia Natural Capital Award for its conservation work in the Midlands of Tasmania.

Focusing on the Midlands’ International Biodiversity Hotspot in Tasmania the partnership with pastoralists, farmers, environment groups, State and Commonwealth governments is powered by philanthropic investors in the Fund.

Prominent in this field are the Myer Foundation, The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and the JT Reid Trust who supported the vision behind this market‑based conservation program.

Occurring almost entirely on private owned land, the threatened grasslands and grassy woodlands of Tasmania’s Midlands contain many threatened species and communities such as the Tasmanian devil, spotted tailed quoll and wedge‑tailed eagle.

The MCF enters into stewardship agreements with private pastoralists supporting them to manage the land to improve conservation outcomes. With over 2,000 hectares of grassland protected and stewarded across 12 properties the fund truly is a remarkable achievement that has delivered results where more traditional approaches weren’t possible.

Special acknowledgement must be given to the leadership of Pip Walsh and Jane Hutchinson, CEO of the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, and to our ecologist Matt Appleby and Andrew Cameron of the TLC, who have done an outstanding job developing relationships with landholders.

I must also recognise the participating landholders of the Midlands without whose commitment we could stand to lose the last remnants of these precious native grassland communities.

Gerard O'Neill's signature
Gerard O'Neill, CEO

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