Australian Conservation Foundation turns 50

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This year, Australia’s largest independent environment organisation the Australian Conservation Foundation and its supporters will come together to celebrate 50 years of standing up for our incredible country. What better place to celebrate our 50th than right here in St Kilda at the St Kilda Town Hall – and you’re invited!

In the past half-century we have been part of keeping the Franklin River flowing, protecting our beloved Great Barrier Reef, witnessing the creation of Kakadu National Park, preserving Tasmania’s ancient rainforests and overseen the creation of Landcare -and much more besides. In some ways, ACF’s story finds root in the forest metaphor – nurtured from a seed, its branches now spread far and wide, its canopy protecting and nurturing the life within.

Like many success stories, it started with one person’s vision and has grown to become a well-recognised and respected organisation with national reach – Australia’s first national conservation organisation. Since our beginnings in 1965, our ranks have swelled to more than 75 staff, 40,000-plus members and donors, and an active supporter base of nearly a quarter of a million people.

Our story began with an Oxford zoologist, Francis Ratcliffe, who came here in 1929. As Francis travelled across Australia, conducting ecological experiments for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the country got under his skin. Through his observations of this stunning, mysterious land, he felt a need to protect it. In a letter to his family he wrote: “the more I looked, the more I realised that never in my life or dreams had I been in such an incredible country”.

When the World Wide Fund for Nature (now WWF) was set up, and there was talk of an Australian branch, Francis was concerned that there was no national body charged with looking after the flora and fauna of Australia. So he brought together scientific, business, public service and political decision-makers to set up a committee. His friend, Max Day, had the foresight to know that this was not just any committee – something more enduring was needed. The Australian Conservation Foundation was born. People came together for our inaugural meeting in Canberra, held on 18 and 19 September 1965, and from there our membership grew, as Australians heard about what our new foundation could achieve and were inspired to take part.

The achievements made by the ACF community working with many others are long lasting; the names and places iconic. You only need to take a boat down the ancient Franklin and Gordon rivers in Tasmania – so nearly lost to us, but now preserved for eternity to feel the power of nature. It is a power that has continued to inspire people to stand up for these beautiful places for the last 50 years.

The power of people standing up together has saved so many places. Consider the coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef, the Gondwanian rainforests of the Daintree and Queensland, the ancient Kakadu National Park, the moss-filled forests of South West Tasmania, the breathtaking Kimberley, vast white Antarctica, sand-infused Fraser Island, the mighty Murray Darling River Basin, and the snow-chilled mountains and valleys of the Australian Alps. These are places ACF and others have worked to protect, and we will continue to do so.

Our story is yours too. It is about the people from across Australia and beyond who make up the ACF community and generously give their time, energy, money and love to preserve the incredible country that first inspired Francis Ratcliffe to plant the ACF seed. People who are holding the baton today will make all the difference for the generations that will follow.

We warmly invite you to ACF’s 50th birthday to revel in community spirit, toast the places we love, and remind ourselves what it is that inspires us to be nature’s advocates.

ACF 50th Birthday – St Kilda Town Hall | Saturday, 21 November 2015 at 7:00pm to 11:00pm

To book your tickets call – 1800223669 or book online www.acfonline.org.au/get-involved/events/acf-50th-birthday

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