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Tree clearing campaign wins 2018 philanthropy award

By Amanda Martin, CEO

Powerful collaboration won the day at the 2018 Philanthropy Awards, with the Purves Environmental Fund receiving the Environmental Philanthropy award on behalf of 28 AEGN members. Philanthropy Australia launched this year’s awards night at the Sydney Opera House, where funders and their grant recipients under 8 categories were celebrated for their achievements.

It was my great delight to hand the award to Erika Hosoyama from Purves Environmental Fund representing the funders, and Dermot O’Gorman of WWF representing the Tree Clearing Alliance. The selection committee chose this initiative from a strong field of strategic grants, based on the Tree Clearing Campaign’s high levels of leadership, courage and immediate and significant impact on the environment.

Members who attended the 2017 AEGN conference will recall the excitement when, surprising us all, Rob Purves showed vision and leadership by launching the Purves Tree-Clearing Challenge. Rob’s offer was that he would contribute $1 million to support a comprehensive action plan to end excessive tree clearing in Australia – provided this amount could be matched by other donors. Within 6 months, the challenge raised $1.50M in funding from 28 AEGN donors and a further $200,000 has been raised since. The award selection panel agreed that excessive tree clearing – especially in Queensland – is one of the greatest challenges to our environment here in Australia. The statistics paint a grim picture:

  • one million hectares – about 4 times the size of the ACT – have been cleared in Queensland alone between 2012 and 2016
  • in 2016, scientists estimated that 50 million birds, mammals and reptiles were killed each year in Queensland and NSW as a result of tree-clearing
  • and tree clearing has increased the sediment load of rivers flowing out to our beloved but imperilled Great Barrier Reef – the largest living thing in the world!

But philanthropy, combined with a group of smart community groups of varying shapes and sizes, came to the rescue. The Purves Tree Clearing Challenge enabled groups to work together on a strategy, knowing that there were funds on the table. The alliance has enabled groups to share strategy, learn together and utilise each other’s unique skills and strengths. It also enabled philanthropists to pool their funds to address one of the greatest environmental issues of our times in a strategic and efficient way.

Congratulations to all the AEGN members involved which includes:
Carawa Foundation
The NR Peace & Justice Fund
Mullum Trust
Norman Family
Katherine Barraclough
Melliodora Fund – ACF Subfund
Pixel Seed
Paddy Pallin Foundation Trust
Morris Family Foundation
Reichstein Foundation
The Water Dragon Foundation
Bokhara Foundation
Diversicon Environmental Foundation
Fouress Foundation
The Yulgilbar Foundation
The Garry White Foundation
Debbie Daddon
Phillip Cornwell
Josette Wunder
Madden Sainsbury Foundation
Diversicon Environmental Foundation
Edwina Kearney
Ross Knowles Foundation

A special thanks to Rob Purves and Erika Hoyosama for their leadership and ongoing efforts to build the funder collaboration.