pas­sion for preser­va­tion

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - by KYLIE WIL­SON

PETER Jacobs has spent much of his work­ing life ei­ther out in na­ture or work­ing to pro­tect it for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

A res­i­dent from near Bright, Peter has been work­ing at Trust for Na­ture, pre­dom­i­nantly based in Wan­garatta, since Septem­ber last year.

Prior to that, he worked for many years with the Na­tional Parks Ser­vice (which be­came Parks Vic­to­ria), first be­gin­ning at Mount Buf­falo Na­tional Park when he was still a stu­dent at Dookie Agri­cul­tural Col­lege and work­ing his way up in park man­age­ment to be­ing chief ranger for the Alps.

His role then in­volved ev­ery­thing from con­ser­va­tion and pro­tec­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment and mak­ing sure that it’s in good con­di­tion, to fo­cus­ing on vis­i­tors and tourism.

“I re­ally en­joyed work­ing across the whole spec­trum of things with parks and vis­i­tors,” he said.

“Vic­to­ria has some fan­tas­tic parks, but also I re­ally like work­ing in the whole in­ter­na­tional scene as well.”

Peter is in­volved in an in­ter­na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion called the World Com­mis­sion of Pro­tected Ar­eas, and is the chair of its Moun­tains Spe­cial­ist Group.

This po­si­tion has seen him visit moun­tain­ous ar­eas through­out the world, learn­ing and shar­ing knowl­edge with other coun­tries.

“Most of my ca­reer has been work­ing in the alps some­where,” he said.

“I find it re­ally in­ter­est­ing and chal­leng­ing,” he said of his Trust for Na­ture work, which he tack­led to make a change from his pre­vi­ous work and feed his broad in­ter­est in con­ser­va­tion.

Trust for Na­ture works with land­hold­ers to es­tab­lish covenants of pro­tected land on their prop­er­ties and also ad­vise peo­ple to help main­tain those pro­tected ar­eas, with ac­tiv­i­ties such as erad­i­cat­ing or min­imis­ing pest plants and an­i­mals, reveg­e­ta­tion works, fenc­ing and other tasks to help bol­ster the ecosys­tem.

Peter ex­plained that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has es­tab­lished a Na­tional Re­serve System, to have var­i­ous en­vi­ron­ments ad­e­quately rep­re­sented in pro­tected ar­eas, but “a lot of the re­ally im­por­tant en­vi­ron­men­tal val­ues that are less pro­tected are ac­tu­ally on pri­vate prop­erty.”

Fund­ing for covenants comes from a range of state and fed­eral sources.

“Covenants are nor­mally es­tab­lished on en­vi­ron­ments that have got re­ally spe­cial val­ues,” he said.

“They’re of­ten threat­ened or un­rep­re­sented veg­e­ta­tion com­mu­ni­ties, or threat­ened species, and are re­ally im­por­tant to be able to con­trib­ute to the na­tional re­serve system.

“Be­cause they do cost money to es­tab­lish… we do need to have fund­ing and they’re gen­er­ally quite tar­geted,” he said of the covenant system.

“But they’re pro­tected in per­pe­tu­ity and it be­comes a for­mally pro­tected area.

“But like parks, land does not just look af­ter it­self..

“Even though it’s pro­tected, it still needs con­ser­va­tion work, which we as­sist with.”

Peter said the Trust and the State Gov­ern­ment are work­ing to­wards a tar­get of hav­ing 200,000 more hectares placed un­der covenant over the next 20 years, which he de­scribed as a chal­leng­ing tar­get but one that the or­gan­i­sa­tion is con­tin­u­ally work­ing to­wards.

He said Trust for Na­ture also works closely with re­lated gov­ern­ment de­part­ments such as DEWLP, catch­ment man­age­ment au­thor­i­ties, Land­care, and Parks Vic­to­ria.

Peter has a pas­sion for the North East en­vi­ron­ment through his work on pub­lic and pri­vate land from the Alps to the Mur­ray River.

He is also pres­i­dent of the Up­per Ovens Val­ley Land­care Group.

“The North East has so much to value,” he said.

“I hope this work across the land­scape pre­pares us well for the chal­lenges of the fu­ture, such as cli­mate change.”

One of Peter’s col­leagues, con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Shae Bren­nan, said she has a sim­i­lar drive to help pre­serve the en­vi­ron­ment for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions and helps landown­ers de­velop their own man­age­ment plans for the land.

She be­gan work­ing at Trust for Na­ture in late 2017, but worked in sim­i­lar roles in NSW be­fore that, and said that work­ing with and en­gag­ing land­hold­ers was the best way to help en­cour­age pro­tect­ing land.

“Each land­holder is dif­fer­ent, but they all want to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment into the fu­ture,” she said.

Meet­ings will be held in the near fu­ture to get feed­back on the devel­op­ment of a Con­ser­va­tion Ac­tion Plan for the Lower Ovens River area that Trust For Na­ture is de­vel­op­ing in tan­dem with NECMA.

The meet­ings will be held in Wan­garatta on April 17 and May 9 and more in­for­ma­tion is avail­able by con­tact­ing Lach­lan Campbell at lach­lan.campbell@necma.vic.gov.au.

“That ac­tion plan will then guide any fu­ture works and fund­ing bids,” Peter said.

More in­for­ma­tion on the Trust For Na­ture and their work is avail­able on www.trust­for­na­ture.org.au.

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

COM­MIT­TED TO EN­VI­RON­MENT: Peter Jacobs, who has been the area man­ager of Trust for Na­ture in the North East for the past six months, has spent his ca­reer work­ing to pre­serve the en­vi­ron­ment.

WORK­ING TO­GETHER: Peter Jacobs dis­cusses work with Trust for Na­ture col­league, con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Shae Bren­nan.

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