Following an announcement by the then NSW Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Bob Debus in March 2007, the Great Eastern Ranges initiative began its journey with a small team in the former NSW Department of Environment and Conservation with funding from the NSW Environmental Trust. Surveys and analysis of satellite images were used to identify connectivity gaps and threats. In response, five regional partnerships were established in NSW that included community organisations, government agencies. local government, landholders, Aboriginal groups, research organisations and businesses.
Lead Partners Group
In July 2010, leadership of GER was transferred to a coalition of five NGO’s – Greening Australia, OzGREEN, the Nature Conservation Trust of NSW and the National Parks Association of NSW in partnership with the NSW Department of Environment Climate Change and Water. These Lead Partners provided the high-level vision, leadership, coordination, strategic planning and policy needed to position GER to continue working with its partners to achieve its national goals. A small central team helped to maintain essential national functions such as co-ordination, science and communications. The NSW Environmental Trust continued to provide crucial funding for the GER during this time.
National Wildlife Corridors Plan
In 2012, GER influenced the development of Australia’s National Wildlife Corridors Plan, a world-leading policy developed to link broader community involvement in landscape conservation.
Between 2013 and 2015 there was an increasing focus on building on existing partnerships and delivery of voluntary on ground habitat protection and restoration projects with private landholders in key connectivity gaps. The five Regional Partnerships increased to ten encompassing a network of more than 250 national, state and regional partner organisations with a presence across the three eastern states and the Australian Capital Territory.
In 2015 the NSW Government’s Environmental Trust announced investment of $8 million for bush regeneration in the Great Eastern Ranges as part of its co-branded ‘Bushconnect in the GER’ program. The program has invested in 15 projects throughout the Ranges in NSW, enabling our regional partnerships and other local consortia to plan and deliver voluntary direct action on ground conservation projects with private landholders during the next 10 years.
Transition to an independent board
In addition to the above project funding, the Environmental Trust also provided $300,000 to June 2018 to assist the GER transition and develop its next generation strategic plan and investment strategy. In 2018 Great Eastern Ranges Ltd was formed with leadership by an independent board of directors.
Today, GER has grown to become one of the world’s largest conservation initiatives and is recognised by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of several significant continental-scale connectivity conservation projects.