MEDIA RELEASE  8 November 2018 |

A joint message from the Landcare Victoria Inc., Victorian Environment Friends Network and Victorian National Parks Association.

Future governments need to commit to massively improve their support for volunteers working on public land, according to the three peak environmental volunteer organisations.

In a joint statement, the Victorian Environment Friends Network (VEFN), Landcare Victoria (LVI) and the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) said that their organisations believe there needs to be much greater recognition of the role that community volunteers play in improving the health and the accessibility of Victoria’s public park lands for everyone.

The statement called on the Victorian Government to increase support for volunteer programs and increase investment in public land management.

“Much of the public land would not be available to the public, or would not be in as good condition, if it were not for the work of volunteers,” said VEFN convenor Paul Strickland.

“Many Landcare Groups are active in improving public land but are put off by the increasing administrative burden and associated costs imposed on these efforts,” said LVI chair Terry Hubbard.

“Governments often miss out on the leverage that could maximise the benefits provided by the many thousands of hours of volunteer work across the state by not providing consistent strategic support,” added VNPA Executive Director Matt Ruchel.

Over 2016–17, volunteers contributed over 221,794 hours of time to our programs and activities in managing Victorian parks and reserves – equal to more than 29,183 days. Volunteers undertake tree planting, weeding, citizen science, and whole range of other activities to help protect, restore and enhance our unique natural areas. See here for more detail.

While volunteer conservation groups already do a large amount, organisations also see an urgent need for a significant boost in funding to control pest plants and feral animals, including deer, on public land, and in the development of a landscape-wide approach to management and containment of pest plants and animals.

“Friends groups, Landcare and VNPA volunteers all offer commitment, passion, local knowledge and established networks, but need similar recognition to that given to volunteers in organisations like the CFA or SES”, said Mr Strickland.

“Taking care of volunteer communities is integral to the long-term health of the public lands they care for,” added Mr Hubbard.

The Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) have released a strategy for environmental volunteers, Victorians Volunteering for Nature -Environmental Volunteering Plan, but there is not yet any funding attached to it.