In August 1991, Martin Copley purchased Karakamia, a block of intact Jarrah forest on the outskirts of Perth. Inspired by trailblazers like John Wamsley, Martin established our first feral predator-free fenced area at the sanctuary. It was a prescient move, made in recognition of the fact that native animals were rapidly disappearing and the conventional model of conservation on public land was failing. A business-like approach was needed: one that used evidence, data and knowledge to inform management on the ground. And so, Australian Wildlife Conservancy was born.
From these first steps and this early vision, AWC has grown to now protect more than 6.5 million hectares across the country, deploying Australia’s largest nongovernment field ecology team to inform practical conservation land management programs that include fire management, feral animal control and weed management. AWC has constructed a vast network of feral predator-free areas across multiple states, protecting species like the Mala (Rufous Hare-Wallaby, Lagorchestes hirsutus) and Woylie (Brush-tailed Bettong, Bettongia penicillata) that simply cannot withstand the ravages of feral cats and foxes. Where fenced areas are not practical, we boost ecological resilience for native species through landscape management programs. Thirty years on, and the mission of AWC is as important as ever. There is much more to do if we are to prevent more species sliding into oblivion.
Providing effective conservation for Australian animals and their habitats remains our mission and primary objective. We establish AWC sanctuaries in strategic locations, and increasingly we look to form mutually beneficial partnerships – with government, Indigenous groups, pastoralists and private landholders – to help deliver our unique model of conservation.
As we celebrate the milestone of thirty years of effective conservation, our focus remains fixed on improving ecological health across our existing estate, while exploring new opportunities to unlock conservation at a continental scale.
The start of 2021 has already seen some impressive achievements, including the launch of the Western River Refuge with our partners on Kangaroo Island, the start of the massive annual prescribed burning program in the Kimberley, and preparations for construction of the first feral predator-proof conservation fence in northern Australia at Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary. We are also developing a robust strategy to address the impact of Australia’s changing climate on current and future conservation programs. 2020 taught us a lesson in resilience, so despite the ongoing uncertainties caused by COVID-19, we are excited about the year ahead.
Our work is only possible through the dedication of the whole AWC family: from land managers and ecologists on the front line, the wider team who support the organisation, our hardworking volunteers and, importantly, you. AWC would not be what it is today – a leader in the deployment of effective conservation across Australia – without your support. Nor can we achieve our mission going forward without you.
Thank you for contributing to our continued success.
PS: As June 30 approaches please consider making a tax-deductible donation to AWC. Under the $3 million Matching Challenge, you’ll be making an even bigger difference to Australia’s wildlife where it counts – in the field.
Read and download this full issue of Wildlife Matters here.