Winners of 2019 NSW Landcare awards announced

NSW Local Land Services chief executive David Witherdin with Individual Landcarer Award finalist Don Durrant, of the Kyogle Landcare Group, winner Nerida Croker, of Upper Lachlan Landcare and Lindy Davis, representing finalist Jane Ireland, of Coffs Harbour Jetty Dunecare. Picture by Pennie Hall
NSW Local Land Services chief executive David Witherdin with Individual Landcarer Award finalist Don Durrant, of the Kyogle Landcare Group, winner Nerida Croker, of Upper Lachlan Landcare and Lindy Davis, representing finalist Jane Ireland, of Coffs Harbour Jetty Dunecare. Picture by Pennie Hall

Environmental champions from across NSW have been recognised in the latest NSW Landcare Awards.

The awards - in 10 diverse categories, ranging from farming to coastal care, school groups and Indigenous land management - celebrate efforts to protect land, water and biodiversity.

The winners were announced at Broken Hill as part of the 2019 NSW Landcare and Local Land Services conference.

Landcare NSW chair Stephanie Cameron and Local Land Services chair Richard Bull paid tribute to the award finalists and champions.

"The awards recognise individuals, groups and partnerships across the state as well as, and most importantly, First Nations custodians caring for country," Mr Bull said.

"On behalf of the Landcare NSW community, I congratulate all the nominees and recipients of the awards," Mrs Cameron added.

"Landcare is about communities working together to create positive outcomes for the environment and the agricultural landscape across NSW. It has never been more important that we continue to support and celebrate the dedication and commitment of our Landcarers and recognise their tremendous efforts."

Teachers and students from Megalong Valley Public School accept the Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award. Picture by Pennie Hall

Teachers and students from Megalong Valley Public School accept the Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award. Picture by Pennie Hall

Winner of the Individual Landcarer Award, Nerida Croker of Fullerton Hadley Landcare said she was thrilled to be nominated and receive the award.

"I was honoured to be nominated for this award and to share our story. I would like to thank everyone who has supported the Landcare community over the years. It has really been a team effort to keep the Landcare community alive.

"Landcare is not just about planting trees, it's about investing in your community and enabling your community to work towards their own solutions."

Upper Lachlan Landcare co-ordinator Ruth Aveyard, said she nominated Nerida as "she was a perfect example of an individual who had demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to Landcare".

Lorroi and Justin Kirkby, of Amarula Dorpers, near Moree, won the Landcare Farming Award.

Lorroi and Justin Kirkby, of Amarula Dorpers, near Moree, won the Landcare Farming Award.

"Nerida is a persistent, quietly driven and capable Landcarer. She has been involved with her local and regional Landcare groups for over 18 years and her level-headed approach has enabled her to support individuals and build valuable partnerships across the community.

"My role, and the role of each Landcarer from across our region is richer for Nerida's involvement in the movement," Ms Aveyard said.

Landcare NSW chief executive Dr Adrian Zammit said the conference and the awards were a chance for Landcare groups to share their stories and successes with their fellow Landcarers from around the state.

"Our regions are diverse but the state of our environment concerns everybody in NSW, and events such as [this conference] are crucial in ensuring that everyone has the best knowledge and practice to be able to implement changes to ensure we have healthy landcare and healthy communities.

"The NSW Landcare Awards highlight the incredible work our Landcare community do. On behalf of the Landcare NSW community, I congratulate everyone for their outstanding efforts," Dr Zammit said.

Landcare Australia chair Doug Humann presents the Indigenous Land Management Award to Aunty Francis Bodkin. Picture by Pennie Hall

Landcare Australia chair Doug Humann presents the Indigenous Land Management Award to Aunty Francis Bodkin. Picture by Pennie Hall

2019 NSW Landcare Award winners:

Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award - Nerida Croker, Upper Lachlan Landcare/Fullerton Hadley Landcare

Australian Government Partnerships for Landcare Award - Floating Landcare, for its program to restore weedy hotspots within national parks and on other public lands along the Hawkesbury estuary, Pittwater and waterways of the Central Coast.

Australian Government Landcare Farming Award - Justin and Lorroi Kirkby, of Amarula Dorpers, near Moree, who discovered they can be profitable without degrading natural resources. Justin and Lorroi share what they have learnt and inspire others by welcoming landholders to their property

Australian Government Innovation in Agriculture Award - Land to Market, a group of more than 30 farmers who are dedicated to maintaining the ecological health of their farmland and have adopted the Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) tool to monitor and verify the health of primary production land.

Virgin Coastcare Award - Take 3 Ltd, a group which aims to reduce plastic pollution of our oceans. Two friends - marine ecologist Roberta Dixon-Valk and youth educator Amanda Marechal - set about identifying a solution to the problem and then joined forces with environmentalist Tim Silverwood to take simple but profound actions.

Australian Community Media Landcare Community Group Award - Martindale Creek Catchment Landcare Inc, for its program to reduce invasive weed threats in the local area and support farmers to address issues of sustainability and biodiversity on farms.

Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award - Megalong Valley Public and its Guulong Landcare group. The group was formed to regenerate bushland and save the Callistemon megalongensis from functional extinction. Students and teachers have partnered with parents, neighbours and Indigenous land managers to spread the word about protecting the natural environment and local species.

Indigenous Land Management Award - Aunty Francis Bodkin, a descendant of the D'harawal people of the Bidgiagal clan, and Adjunct Fellow at Western Sydney University. Aunty Francis played a vital role in the establishment of the Mount Annan Royal Botanical Gardens in the 1970s and has helped many Landcare groups over the years, including North Head Sanctuary Foundation and IndigiGrow.

Austcover Young Landcare Leadership Award - Richie Benson, who founded the Cumberland Reach Landcare group. While he was still in high school, Richie rallied his neighbours to tackle the weed problem along the riverbank near their properties. He has since established Koala Fest, using a Landcare approach to managing koala habitat.

These winners will now go on to represent NSW at the 2020 National Landcare awards in Sydney.