$198,000 over three years
As we reach one year since last summer’s devastating bushfires, the Ross Trust has provided an advocacy grant of $198,000 to The Wilderness Society, for East Gippsland’s Emerald Link, part of a strategy to protect the region’s high conservation value forests.
The Emerald Link is an economic development strategy for the East Gippsland region that aims to create a large, new protected area for wilderness tourism.
East Gippsland has world renowned biodiversity, rainforest, botanical, zoological and geological sites.
The high value nature of the area cannot be overstated – it is the only place on mainland Australian with unfragmented natural ecosystems that connect alpine to coastal environments and the project’s vision is to protect this last unbroken forest wilderness area.
The recent Black Summer fires destroyed 84 per cent of forests across East Gippsland including more than three-quarters of the region's state forests.
The Wilderness Society is working with Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) on the Emerald Link project, as they have done on previous collaborative forest protection work.
GECO has been operating in the heart of East Gippsland for 25 years. The Wilderness Society is Australia’s largest nature-based conservation organisation.
The Trust’s funding – part of its commitment to biodiversity conservation in Victoria – will fund four part-time Emerald Link Advocates, who will undertake a wide range of advocacy activities to generate local support.
Each advocate will engage with the community, business sector, tourism bodies and other networks to cultivate at least two long term champions for the project every year.
They will also train and support champions of the project, to advocate for the Emerald Link within their networks.
Strong community advocacy for the conservation economy proposals will be crucial to establishing the Emerald Link.
It is expected business, tourism and community leaders will collaborate to advocate for the business opportunities and jobs that the new proposals will provide.
This community-led strategy seeks to balance human and environmental needs, providing economic development that is based upon the protection and conservation of the environment.
Due to the impact of the fires on the landscape and the locals, combined with the impact of COVID-19, work on the Emerald Link in 2020 was paused. This new funding will help the project make strong progress in 2021.
For more information about the Emerald Link, visit: https://www.emeraldlink.com.au/