To begin a series of posts showcasing the valuable work of our members, we recently caught up with Harry Burkitt from our newest member organisation, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness. We asked Harry to explain a little about the history of the Colong Foundation, their current activities and their reasons for joining ACIUCN:
‘The Colong Foundation was founded in 1968 by a fraternity of bushwalkers and cartographers who were concerned about the threats posed to the southern Blue Mountains by limestone mining and pine plantations. The Foundation is the successor to the National Parks and Primitive Areas Council, established in 1932 by Myles Dunphy, our first patron. This makes us the longest-serving community advocates for Australian wilderness.
The Colong Foundation not only played a leading role in realising Myles Dunphy’s plan for a Greater Blue Mountains National Park, it pushed for its World Heritage listing, as well as the reservation of a Border Ranges National Park. It has initiated successful campaigns for the protection of two million hectares of wilderness and proposed the NSW Wilderness Act, accepted in 1987.
The realisation of Myles Dunphy’s vision of a comprehensive system of NSW national parks with protected wilderness areas remains the primary objective of the Colong Foundation. We monitor NSW wilderness areas, identify threats and formulate site specific protection remedies. There are now 2,087,240 ha of wilderness in NSW, but many beautiful and environmentally highly significant wilderness areas are not protected. These include the Macleay Gorges, Pilliga and Bebo on the north west slopes, the Deua Valley on the South Coast, and the Mount Tabletop and the Main Range in the Snowy Mountains.
As well as broader initiatives, such as lobbying for a ban on native forest logging, a major focus for us at present is the ‘Give a Dam’ campaign, which aims to halt the proposed raising of the Warragamba Dam wall and the subsequent flooding of 6000 hectares of the World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains Area, including significant cultural heritage sites and important wildlife habitat.
The Colong Foundation is becoming increasingly international in outlook, and has strong ties to the IUCN World Heritage Foundation. Membership of the Australian Committee for IUCN was a logical next step.’