2016 Environmentalist of the Year

The 2016 Environmentalist of the Year, with $5000 prize money, is Peter Owen, Director of The Wilderness Society South Australia.

Over the past decade, Peter has been instrumental in the protection of large areas of land and seascape including the Nullarbor Plain, South Australia’s Offshore Islands, the Arkaroola Mountains, the Mawson Plateau and the declaration of the State’s 19 marine parks – Australia’s first representative marine park network outside of the Great Barrier Reef.

In January 2016 Peter spearheaded the formation of the Great Australian Bight Alliance, a platform for people and organisations to stand together against fossil fuel mining in the Bight and prevent a Gulf of Mexico scale oil spill which would decimate the marine environment from Western Australia to Tasmania and beyond.

“Peter Owen is in the front rank of ecological achievers world-wide.”

“Thanks to Peter’s tireless campaigning over more than a decade, vast swathes of South Australia’s unique landscapes, islands and marine environments have been protected.”

“This South Australian environmental champion is now determined to see the Great Australian Bight rid of the threat of fossil fuel mining. Peter is leading the campaign to drive BP, and other would-be environmental despoilers, out of the Bight’s wild and pristine waters once and for all”, Bob Brown said.


 

Peter Owen

2016 Environmentalist of the Year

                                                                                               

Peter Owen is Director at The Wilderness Society in South Australia. Over the past decade, he has been instrumental in the protection of vast areas of land and seascape including the Nullarbor Plain, South Australia’s Offshore Islands, the Arkaroola Mountains, the Mawson Plateau and the declaration of the State’s 19 marine parks – Australia’s first representative marine park network outside of the Great Barrier Reef.

Peter and his partner Lisa have two children, Audrey 4 and Hugh 2.

Peter studied at the University of Adelaide, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (1992) Graduate Diploma of Environment Studies (1998) and Bachelor of Law in (2002).

He worked as a lawyer at the Environmental Defenders Office SA from 2002-03 and then as a Campaigner at the Conservation Council of SA from 2003-05.

From 2005-14 Peter was the Campaign Manager at the Wilderness Society SA before becoming the Director of The Wilderness Society SA in 2014, a position he continues to hold.

Since 2005, as Campaign Manager, and then Director, of The Wilderness Society SA, Peter has spearheaded some remarkable gains for the South Australia’s environment.

In 2005, The Wilderness Society SA launched a campaign to protect the iconic Nullarbor Plain under the South Australian Wilderness Protection Act 1992. In 2013, over 900,000ha of the Nullarbor Plain was proclaimed a Wilderness Protection Area, the size of Yellowstone National Park in the US. The spectacular Bunda Cliffs and the intricate cave systems are protected within the area, and when connected to the Great Australian Bight Marine Reserve, creates a land and sea conservation estate of global importance.

Also in 2005, The Wilderness Society SA launched the campaign for marine protected areas in South Australia. In 2007, the South Australian Marine Parks Act 2007 passed the Parliament and then in 2009, the outer boundaries of 19 marine parks covering 44% of state waters were proclaimed by the South Australian Government. Finally, in 2014, zoning plans for each of the marine parks passed both Houses of the SA Parliament, creating highly protected sanctuary zones.

Thanks to pressure from the Wildernesss Society SA, in 2011, South Australia’s Offshore Islands were proclaimed wilderness protection areas under the South Australian Wilderness Protection Act 1992.

Some of the most important marine sanctuaries connect with the Offshore Island wilderness protection areas. The Pearson Islands Group Sanctuary, within the Investigator Marine Park and The Isles of St Francis Sanctuary, within the Nuyts Archipelago Marine Park, are considered the ‘jewels in the crown’ of South Australia’s marine parks network. Connected to the Offshore Island wilderness protection areas, they create land and sea conservation estates of incredible significance: Australia's Galapagos!

In 2011 Peter won South Australia’s top two Environment Awards.

He was named South Australian of the Year in the Environment Category for a list of remarkable achievements including the protection of the Nullarbor Plain, South Australia’s Offshore Islands, the Arkaroola Mountains, the Mawson Plateau and the declaration of the State’s 19 Marine Parks.

He also won the Conservation Council’s annual Jill Hudson Award for Environmental Protection in recognition of his role in the protection of vast areas of land and seascape across South Australia, often under extremely difficult circumstances.

This was the first time both the State and Community Environment Awards have gone to the same person.

In 2013, Peter started work on a campaign to stop BP and other ‘big oil’ companies pushing to expand the fossil fuel industry into the Great Australian Bight, putting at risk one of the planet’s most significant wilderness areas and a liveable climate.

Much of the recently proclaimed conservation estate across the Bight, including the Nullarbor and Offshore Island wilderness protection areas and the extensive marine parks network would be devastated by an oil spill disaster.

In January 2016 Peter was instrumental in establishing the Great Australian Bight Alliance to create a platform for people and organisations to stand together against fossil fuel mining in the Bight. The Alliance is growing quickly and the campaign is fast becoming an international issue.

Peter Owen is available for interview on 0423 550 018

https://www.wilderness.org.au/articles/petes-journal

https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-owen-7b4b6032

https://www.wilderness.org.au/articles/wild-profile-peter-owen

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2016 Community Environment Prize

The 2016 Community Environment Prize, and $2000 prize money, goes to Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO).



GECO is a grass roots community group based in the small town of Goongerah in far East Gippsland, Victoria. GECO have been campaigning for protection of East Gippsland’s forests since 1993.

Using a variety of strategies including education, political lobbying, non-violent direct action, citizen science and forest monitoring, GECO have successfully protected a number of important forest habitats for a range of threatened species.

“Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) are local environmental heroes. Time after time, the authorities have failed to enforce their own laws designed to protect forests and their wildlife, and this brave band of activists have stepped in to ensure the law is upheld.”

“Thanks to GECO’s persistent and innovative campaigns, hundreds of hectares of habitat for threatened species like the Greater Glider and Long-footed potoroo have been saved from destruction.”

“Incredibly, GECO’s activists have been prosecuted for exposing illegal logging.  We think they deserve accolades, so it’s a great pleasure to present them with the Community Environment Award for their courageous work”, Bob Brown said.


 

Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO)

2016 Community Environment Prize

 

Goongerah Environment Centre Office (GECO) is a grass roots community group based in the small town of Goongerah in far East Gippsland, Victoria. GECO have been campaigning for protection of East Gippsland’s forests since 1993.

Using a variety of strategies including education and raising public awareness, political lobbying, non-violent direct action, citizen science and forest monitoring, GECO take action to protect high conservation value forests from logging.

Through their forest surveys and citizen science camps, GECO have been successful in stopping illegal logging in several East Gippsland forests.

The state-owned logging agency VicForests regularly breaches environmental laws by logging threatened species habitat and protected forest types. Through their Citizen Science Program, GECO takes action in the face of inadequate government regulation, collecting data on threatened species and ecological values that are protected by Victorian law but threatened by logging, reporting the results to the Victorian government.

GECO have undertaken surveys for species such as the endangered Long-footed Potoroo, Greater Glider and large forest owls in areas scheduled for logging. The program has protected habitat by creating reserves and stopped several unlawful logging operations.

GECO’s citizen science program was nominated as a finalist in the 2015 United Nations World Environment Day Awards.

Regular educational forest survey camps based in Goongerah are organized by GECO, with participants learning about forest ecology, logging threats and ecological survey skills.

Although DELWP are supposed to regulate VicForests logging operations, inadequate and irregular auditing of their operations means logging often occurs in breach of environmental laws.  GECO audits logging areas for compliance to the law and searches for threatened species before logging occurs.

GECO campaigners are being prosecuted by the Victorian Government for exposing rainforest logging, charged with entering a logging area to document and expose logging of protected rainforest.

In March operations at Cabbage Tree Creek were stopped after GECO reported logging of rainforest buffers and several rare and protected slender tree-ferns. The operation remains under investigation by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

Earlier in 2016, 100 hectares of forest on the Errinundra plateau were saved for Greater Gliders after GECO surveys earlier in 2016 with DELWP declaring they will now formally protect the area.

While VicForests reported to the media that they protected habitat for nine threatened species in 2016 because of surveys they had conducted, it was in fact the incredible work of GECO and their surveys that halted the logging in these areas.

Ed Hill, GECO Forest Campaigner, is available for interview on 0414 199 645

http://www.geco.org.au

https://planetfunder.org/projects/GECO

http://wild.com.au/news/citizen-scientists-protect-kuark-forest/

 

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2016 Young Environmentalist of the Year

The 2016 Young Environmentalist of the Year, with $2000 prize money, is Josh Creaser.



A 25 year-old born and bred Canberran, Josh is 350.org Australia's Frontline Projects Coordinator, working on national campaigns to stop the expansion of the coal and gas industry and support a rapid and fair transition to a fossil free energy system.

“The climate action movement is a powerhouse of young activists and Josh Creaser is one making a huge impact.”

“Josh has helped organise some of the most inspirational direct actions of the last few years, involving thousands of people in creative, peaceful protests against the coal and gas giants responsible for dangerous climate change”, Bob Brown said.

“Young, articulate and with a vision for a clean energy future backed by science and public opinion, campaigners like Josh must be a nightmare for the coal and gas industry”, Bob Brown said.


 

Josh Creaser

2016 Young Environmentalist of the Year

 

Josh Creaser is 25 years old and lives is Canberra.  Josh is 350.org Australia's Frontline Projects Coordinator and works on national campaigns aiming to stop the expansion of the coal and gas industry and support a rapid and fair transition to a fossil free energy system.

The current campaign focus for Josh is AGL Energy - Australia's biggest carbon polluter.

Josh studied environmental science and human ecology at the ANU, where he discovered the world of campaigning and activism.

He's been an active member of the 350.org Canberra group since its founding in 2013 and worked with that team of volunteers to secure a commitment from the ACT Government to divest from fossil fuels.

Josh supported mass action at the Leard Blockade at Maules Creek and was one of the core organisers for the People’s Parliament in Dec 2015 when 300 people staged a sit in at Parliament House in Canberra, to coincide with the Paris Climate talks.

Josh instrumental in organising the visit by the Pacific Climate activists to Parliament in Canberra and the flotilla to the Break Free flotilla that shut down Newcastle coal port in early 2016. 

 

Josh Creaser is available for interview on 0410 745 005

https://350.org/about/team/

http://thegenerator.com.au/a-house-of-cards-josh-creaser-350-org-australia/

 

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2016 Deni Greene Award

The 2016 Deni Greene Award, and $2000 prize money, goes to Phil Wilkinson.



Phil Wilkinson works for the Australian Institute for Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), currently as its Executive Manager, Government Relations and Technical Services. Over the last 15 years, in roles with the organisation from Technical Manager to CEO, he has been instrumental in bringing together people from a range of disciplines across academia, industry and government to work together on improving sustainability in the built environment.

A founding member of the Green Building Council of Australia, Phil is a mechanical engineer who has demonstrated an amazing ability to achieve regulatory and behavioural change in an industry that has the potential to contribute significantly to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. His courage and tenacity, underpinned by great communication skills and a strong technical background, have resulted in practical outcomes with far-reaching impacts.

“Phil is a rare find – the combination of technical expertise, a passion for effective communication and a deep commitment to improving sustainability of the built environment is a boon to us all and makes him a deserving winner of the Deni Greene Award.”

“This award commemorates the life work of my late friend and engineer, Deni Greene, who came to Australia from the USA to join the campaign to save the Franklin River," Bob Brown said.


 

Phil Wilkinson

2016 Deni Greene Award

 

Phil Wilkinson works for the Australian Institute for Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), currently as its Executive Manager, Government Relations and Technical Services. Over the last 15 years, in roles with the organisation from Technical Manager to CEO, he has been instrumental in bringing together people from a range of disciplines across academia, industry and government to work together on improving sustainability in the built environment.

A founding member of the Green Building Council of Australia, Phil is a mechanical engineer who has demonstrated an amazing ability to achieve regulatory and behavioural change in an industry that has the potential to contribute significantly to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. His courage and tenacity, underpinned by great communication skills and a strong technical background, have resulted in practical outcomes with far-reaching impacts.

Just one example was his leadership in the creation of ‘PRIME’, a broad strategy for transitioning his industry to a low-emission future, which required overcoming considerable opposition and disparate views.

Phil has also been responsible for the development of a number of industry best practice guides and fact sheets with a strong sustainability focus, across energy efficiency, water conservation, the indoor environment and refrigerant gas management. The flammable refrigerant safety guide, with its focus on both emissions reduction and safety, was a particular achievement due to the range of government regulators involved and tensions between competing sections of the industry.

Phil continues to be tireless in his work and his commitment to sustainability, whether this is through improving industry knowledge, refining national standards and rating tools, fostering collaborative networks or simply making people feel valued for their contribution.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/philwilk

http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/articles/so-whos-really-going-to-save-the-planet-airah-reckons-its-at-the-front-of-the-charge/43580

https://www.facebook.com/people/Phil-Wilkinson-Airah/100011163373665

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