Is there a patch of Victoria you love? A towering forest right on your doorstep? A pristine beach you’ve been visiting since you were a kid? A shady river running through the heart of the city?
For a group of us more than 50 years ago, it was the Little Desert in western Victoria. It’s a beautiful area of mallee bushland, rich in wildflowers and rare native animals. When the government wanted to subdivide the area for agricultural development, volunteers from across the state came together to protect this place they loved.
They realised that environment groups acting together can influence policy and decision making more powerfully than each working alone. With passion, dedication and a clever new approach, they saved this unique landscape, which later became the Little Desert National Park.
The declaration of Little Desert was a watershed win for the Victorian environment community, marking the beginning of a new environmental awareness. Fired up by their pioneering victory, this small group of Victorians realised we needed a peak organisation that focused on environmental issues across the state. In 1969 they formed the Conservation Council of Victoria, which later changed its name to Environment Victoria.
We’ve now grown into one of Australia’s leading environment organisations – independent, not for profit and mostly funded by donations. We have 40 grassroots member groups and 100,000 individual supporters, all working to look after Victoria for our children, and their children.
Times have changed and so have the issues we work on. But the solutions are often the same. It still takes a group of people, working together, to protect the natural world they care about.
And while we’re still holding our governments to account and shining a light on irresponsible polluters and developers, the debate is no longer about industry versus the environment (if it ever was). It’s about investing in the future with clean energy, efficient technology, responsible businesses, and smarter, more sustainable homes and lifestyles. It’s about doing the right thing so the next generation of Victorians can enjoy the same beautiful natural environment and quality of life that we do today.
We’ve had many successes over the years, continuing to confront the big environmental challenges that Victoria faces. But we’ve never forgotten our roots. The Little Desert National Park still stands today and is one of Victoria’s truly special places. It’s home to more than 600 species of native plants, 140 species of birds, 19 native mammals and 24 reptiles.