Bush Heritage Australia
Bush Heritage Australia is a non-profit organisation based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, that operates throughout Australia. It was previously known as the Australian Bush Heritage Fund, which is still its legal name. It purchases land, assessed as being of outstanding conservation value, from private owners, to manage as wildlife reserves in perpetuity. It does so to protect endangered species and preserve Australia's biodiversity. By 2011 the organisation was helping to conserve 67 threatened vegetation communities and more than 236 threatened plant and animal species.
Bush Heritage Australia was founded in 1990 by Dr Bob Brown who purchased two forested properties in Tasmania, adjoining the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site, to save them from being woodchipped. He used the money of his Goldman Environmental Prize as a deposit, borrowing the rest and setting up the Australian Bush Heritage Fund.
The organisation subsequently developed, first in a small way in Tasmania, before expanding to the Australian mainland, and has grown with the assistance of regular subscribers and other donors.
In 1997 Bush Heritage acquired the lease of Erith Island, an island in the Kent Group, Bass Strait, used for cattle grazing. It was relinquished to the Tasmanian Government in 2002 for incorporation into the Kent Group National Park.
Bush Heritage Australia is striving for the long term protection of Australia's biodiversity through the acquisition and management of land, water and wildlife of outstanding conservation significance. In order to do so it focusses its attention and investment on five broad 'anchor' regions across Australia, selected for a combination of criteria, including the number of threatened species and ecosystems, the number of endemic species, and the general condition of the lands within the region. Care of BHA owned properties includes the rehabilitation of degraded land, the control of introduced herbivores and predators, the use of fire as a management tool, consultation and cooperation with neighbouring landowners and traditional owners, as well as with government departments, and the creation of habitat corridors. The goal of the organisation is to permanently protect 1% of Australia's natural environment. The five key anchor regions are the:
- Gulf of Carpentaria to the Channel Country (and Lake Eyre), covering much of the eastern Northern Territory, western Queensland and north-eastern South Australia
- Queensland Uplands and the Brigalow Belt, covering much of the Great Dividing Range in central eastern Queensland
- Grassy Box Woodlands of south-eastern Australia, mainly in Victoria and New South Wales
- Tasmanian Midlands - the grasslands of central Tasmania
- South West Botanical Province, the south-western corner of Australia
Bush Heritage is run by an independent board of directors skilled in land management and conservation, a small number of paid staff and many volunteers. Subscribers, who may also be volunteers, are given opportunities to visit the reserves. In the 2005–06 financial year, 83% of expenditure was on "land acquisition, equipment, and conservation management", 12% was on fund-raising, with 5% for administration costs.
The BHA the following ambassadors:
BHA has (as of October 2008) reserves totalling about 9,450 km² (945,000 ha) which it owns or co-owns, manages, or is in the course of purchasing:
- "Bush Heritage Australia". Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. 23 February 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- Our Patron. Bush Heritage Australia.
- Brothers, Nigel; Pemberton, David; Pryor, Helen; & Halley, Vanessa. (2001). Tasmania’s Offshore Islands: seabirds and other natural features. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: Hobart. ISBN 0-7246-4816-X
- BHA: strategy
- BHA: Finances
- "Our Staff". Bush Heritage Australia. Retrieved 20 March 2011.