Across the country today, the Queen is honouring Australians during the celebration of her birthday.
Locally, Big Scrub Landcare President Dr. Tony Parkes has been appointed as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to conservation and the environment through the restoration of critically endangered subtropical rainforest in northern New South Wales.
Parkes says he is delighted that this award recognises services to conservation. ‘I accept this award on behalf of the many extraordinary people who are dedicated to saving from extinction, Australia’s many endangered species and ecosystems, particularly critically endangered lowland subtropical rainforest and its rich biodiversity,’ he said.
Dr Parkes co-founded Big Scrub Landcare in 1993 and has been its President since.
This is not the first time he has been honoured with an award for his work, he was a Banksia Award recipient for Community Environmental Leadership in 2016 and the NSW Individual Landcarer of the Year in 2001 and 2015.
He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Big Scrub Foundation, he was the co-founder and Chair (1999- 2006) of Rainforest Rescue, the Chairman (1993-2011) and he was the Vice-Chair (2012-2014) of Envite Environment.
Other appointments include the Chair of the Richmond Regional Vegetation Committee and the Vice-Chair of the Richmond Catchment Management Committee.
The Order of Australia is the principal means of recognising outstanding members of the community at a national level.
The honour of Officer of the Order of Australia recognises the commitment and service of people like Dr. Parkes to building a better and more positive Australia.
Today’s award recognises outstanding achievements of Big Scrub Landcare under Dr Parkes’ leadership including: facilitating 55 large scale projects at a value of $6 million for rainforest restoration on both private and public land including 10 of the 11 Big Scrub remnants on National Park land. These projects have contributed to the ecological restoration of more than 90 lowland rainforest remnants from Grafton to the Queensland border with a total area of more than 300ha and providing 7000 on-the-ground work days for bush regenerator days; facilitating the planting of two million trees across the Big Scrub region, leading to the re-establishment of more than 300ha of rainforest and increasing the area of rainforest by 30%; presenting 20 annual Big Scrub Rainforest Days with over 25,000 attendees and publishing books and comprehensive manuals on rainforest restoration and weed identification and control in subtropical rainforests of Eastern Australia; and the listing in 2011 of Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia as a critically endangered ecological community under the EPBC Act. Tony led the team of volunteer scientific advisors who prepared the nomination and contributed to its assessment; working in partnership with over 60 private landholders, businesses, NSW NPWS, councils and other government agencies.