Sutherland Shire Environment Centre celebrates 30th anniversary with coveted award

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre chair Tassia Kolesnikow (left) and members Catherine Reynolds and Greg Walker at State Parliament in 2020 with a petition with 10,700 signatures opposing mining under Woronora Reservoir. Picture: supplied
Sutherland Shire Environment Centre chair Tassia Kolesnikow (left) and members Catherine Reynolds and Greg Walker at State Parliament in 2020 with a petition with 10,700 signatures opposing mining under Woronora Reservoir. Picture: supplied

The Sutherland Shire Environment Centre, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, has been named Group of the Year in the Nature Conservation Council's NSW Environment Awards.

The award recognises outstanding commitment and successful campaigning by grassroots environmentalists and conservationists.

The panel of judges included Don White, chair of the Nature Conservation Council; Bob Debus, former Environment Minister and president of the Colong Foundation; Wendy Harmer, life member of the Surfrider Foundation; Sue McKinnon, from McKinnon Family Foundation; and Steph Cunio, from United Workers' Union, formerly of the Climate Action Network.

Chair of the centre Tassia Kolesnikow said, "We are so honoured to receive this highly coveted award and thrilled to be recognised for our strong commitment to conserving our local environment".

"We have turned 30 this year, so it's a great time to celebrate and reflect on our centre's history, campaigns and longstanding advocacy for the shire's beautiful natural environment," she said.

The centre was established in 1991 by historian and environmental activist Bob Walshe, supported by a group of passionate volunteers.

Mr Walshe, who died on March 6, 2018 at 94, was awarded an OAM and twice named the shire's Citizen of the Year.

Bob Walshe, OAM, founder of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre.

Bob Walshe, OAM, founder of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre.

During its 30-year history, the environment centre has been involved in many environmental protection campaigns in and around the shire.

Phil Smith, a member of the centre since 1991 said it was inspiring to see it among the many organisations working to protect and enhance the quality of the environment, often speaking out against damaging government policies and proposed developments.

"Bob would be proud the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre has been doing its bit for three decades... fighting for the environment, advocating for sustainability, and supporting other individuals and community groups to do the same.

"We would not exist without the important work of all our past and present volunteers."

A major campaign in recent years has been against mining beneath the Woronora Reservoir.

The centre has also raised public awareness about the local koala population and successfully lobbied both Wollongong and Sutherland Shire councils to implement local koala management plans.

Environment centre member and co-founder of SO SHIRE, Sarah-Jo Lobwein, has campaigned to stop plastic pollution on beaches across the shire.

The centre is also lobbying against the decision by Transport for NSW to move the route of the long-planned Cronulla to Sutherland Active Transport Link from the rail corridor to busy main roads.

Executive officer Sally Knight said, "We'd love anyone who is interested in protecting the Sutherland Shire environment to consider becoming a member to help support our advocacy".

"We also welcome those who can volunteer their time to ensure the Environment Centre continues protecting our stunning natural environment for the next 30 years and beyond.

"Giving nature a voice and fighting for our environment is one of the most important issues of our time."

WANT MORE LOCAL NEWS?

SIGN UP FOR YOUR FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER