The Gold Coast region was the big winner at the recent Queensland Landcare Awards held at the Cairns Aquarium.
Landcare champions from across Queensland came together to celebrate impressive achievements in the Landcare community, with the City of Gold Coast Beaches to Bushland Program and environmentalist Rosalinde Brinkman beating off strong opposition to claim top honours.
In winning the Australian Government Partnerships for Landcare Award, the Beaches to Bushland Program has been rewarded for sustained excellence. Celebrating 20 years and now comprising of ten local groups, Beaches to Bushland has seen over 120 hectares of land restored through assisted restoration alone and is now under active maintenance while an additional 450,000 native trees have been planted in areas that required revegetation.
25-year-old Rosalinde Brinkman, from Gold Coast Catchment Association, won the coveted Austcover Young Landcare Leadership Award. Rosalinde’s work with GCCA’s long-running PlatypusWatch program and fledgling WaterWatch and WaterBug programs, as well as inheriting the SeaGrass program, were instrumental in her success. This allowed GCCA to employ Rosalinde full-time, employ two part-time assistants, and initiate a new Cane Toad Program.
On behalf of City of Gold Coast, Saraya Robinson spoke of the excitement and honour this award has brought to the Beaches to Bushland Program.
“It really is a team award,” she stressed, “but I’m really proud to be able to lead the program and be in a role that allows me to work directly with the community and make a real difference to our environment. Most people when they think of the Gold Coast they usually think of high rises and beaches but we are a lot more than that. We are fortunate enough to live in a unique and highly biodiverse area and to have such an active Landcare community that want to help with conserving and protecting these areas is something special and it’s great this has been showcased. We have formed some wonderful partnerships through the program that have lasted over two decades and it’s great to see these acknowledged and continue on.”
Such awards come about through team efforts, with each person a vital cog in the process.
“The recognition is for the City’s Beaches to Bushland program as a whole,” Saraya said, “and the partnerships we have fostered through the program. We currently partner with 10 Bushcare/Landcare groups across the coast but also engage more than 4500 volunteers annually and plant up to 60,000 native trees through a range of specialised projects such as koala tree planting, Junior Landcare (ages 3-13 years) and National Tree Day etc.”
While this award was for a collaborative effort, Rosalinde’s, as the recipient of the Young Landcare Leadership Award, was more the result of what an individual can achieve with the right team behind them.
“Professionally it means that I am very fortunate to work with like-minded people that are all working towards the same goals,” she nodded. “Personally winning this award means that it is recognition that I am on the right path and that following my heart and doing what I love most, works! This award does not only reflect my personal work, but it also entails the work of 50+ community groups that our organisation supports, our partnering organisations and the combined efforts of everyone in the GC Environmental sector.”
Like most things that are relative to environmental awareness, programs such as these rely on the generosity of the public and funding from various sources, with Rosalinde acknowledging the role outside beneficiaries play in her success.
“We have been very successful in receiving grants and sponsorship money to continue all our existing programs and to expand them at the same time, like our Cane Toad Challenge and our Cats Claw Jewel Beetle Breeding program. We furthermore initiated our new annual event, the Gold Coast BioBlitz which is a 24-hour flora and fauna survey event where scientists and community team up to find the hidden creatures in our hinterland. I would love to invest a bit more time in project management and create a new hub for ourselves and our member groups! We also want to keep expanding our current programs and events.”
Both victors now proceed to the National Landcare 2020 awards in Sydney, with Rosalinde remaining coy on her chances.
“That is a hard question,” she laughed. “It is already an honour to have won the State’s awards so I am just very excited to meet the other winners and hear about their initiatives and stories. Fingers crossed!”
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to represent not just the City but also our state and showcase the program to the wider Landcare network across Australia,” added Saraya. “We think we have a special program that achieves a great deal by working in partnership with the community so our fingers are crossed for nationals.”