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John and Pat Edwards were inducted into the Allen Strom Hall of Fame at the Nature Conservation Council’s NSW Environment Awards over the weekend. Image: Contributed

Environment defenders inducted into hall of fame

Geoff Helisma

Clarence Valley environmental defenders John and Pat Edwards were inducted into the Allen Strom Hall of Fame at the Nature Conservation Council’s NSW Environment Awards.

The awards, which were conducted via a Zoom meeting on Saturday November 6, “celebrate the outstanding commitment and achievement of campaigners, grassroots environmentalists and conservation groups across the state”.

“The Nature Conservation Council’s hall of fame was established in memory of the late Allen Strom’s untiring dedication to conservation and education in NSW,” the conservation council’s website states.

“Individuals for this award have been actively involved in the conservation movement for many years, have made a constant and invaluable contribution to the environment and have displayed qualities of integrity, reliability and commitment.”

Mr Edwards said he was honoured that he and his wife, Pat, were inducted into the hall of fame, however, he was a little shy about the attention.

“I always find these things embarrassing,” he said, “I’d rather be off in a corner doing my own thing, Pat is much the same.

“We do the things we do because we believe in them.

“We have five lovely grandchildren who deserve to experience a world like the one we grew up in – one of the things our generation has done is stuff it up for them; so whatever we can do to conserve nature is worth doing.”

Mr Edwards has been one of the people integral in conducting the Clarence Catchment Alliance’s ‘No Mines Clarence Valley’ campaign.

“This was our submission [below] when Elizabeth Parker and I put in the nomination on behalf of Clarence Catchment Alliance,” said coordinator Shae Fleming.

“Our nomination was to show our appreciation for the constant work John and Pat do for conservation, and for their huge contribution to the No Mines Clarence Valley campaign.”

Anyone in the Clarence Valley who is active in conservation knows John and Pat Edwards.

Their story is of constant and tireless conservation activities.

Both in their 80s, they are dynamic and fearless crusaders for conservation and the environment, taking on causes via laptop, media, changes to legislation, and on the ground – with pickaxe in hand.

Pat and John’s work with the Clarence Environment Centre (CEC), WIRES, Land for Wildlife, North Coast Environment Council – to name a few – has been of enormous benefit to the environmental community; human, flora and fauna.

They both certainly epitomise the saying, ‘Think global act local.’

With her work with WIRES, Pat is recognised by the Department of Environment for her broad knowledge of koalas in the region and has assisted in specialist research – Land for Wildlife is Pat’s ‘baby’.

Pat keeps all the records and writes all the reports; John does the flora reporting.

Their expertise includes audits of all wildlife refuge properties, weed and vegetation mapping, managing volunteer bush regeneration teams, and weed eradication.

Pat and John have nominated eight plant species and one plant population to the NSW Scientific Committee, for listing as threatened, and work with Save Our Species.

Their knowledge and dedication have uncovered and reported illegal activities that threaten the environment and taken the offenders to task.

As leaders in Friends of Shannon Creek Action Group, they exposed dodgy deals and North Coast Water were forced to rewrite its entire environmental impact statement.

CEC’s forest logging audits shone a light on Forests NSW’s massive breaches of the Integrated Forests Operations Approval, which led to major fines.

Other logging audits saw Boral’s bid for Forest Stewardship Council accreditation thrown out.

Other campaigns include the Glenugie CSG blockade and the illegal land clearing for blueberries at Halfway Creek.

John has served on numerous council committees including Floodplain Risk, North Coast Weeds Advisory, Biodiversity Management Plan Development, Bushfire Advisory, River Water Monitoring, Council’s Water Efficiency Team and the River Monitoring Committee.

John’s current involvement in the Clarence Catchment Alliance’s ‘No Mines Clarence Valley’ campaign is where he works with us to lobby changes to NSW legislation, to prohibit mineral mining in our sensitive water catchment and places of high ecological and cultural significance.

John’s reporting of breaches saw a mining exploration company’s activities suspended and a fine imposed.

Over many dedicated years, John and Pat Edwards have contributed selflessly to conservation and we believe their extensive knowledge and incredible passion, together, are truly deserving of acknowledgment.