Hunter Region Landcare Network congratulate Bill Dowling and Stephen Thatcher for having their hard work and dedication to the environment recognised at their regional 2023 Australia Day Awards.
Dungog Shire Council – Environmental Citizen Award
Bill Dowling and Dungog Commoners Landcare Inc were two of the three finalists chosen for the award from a larger list of nominees. The award went to Bill Dowling, the vice-president of Dungog Commoners Landcare Inc.
Bill has been caring for the environment for most of his life, working on conservation projects in state forests, Barrington Tops, and throughout Dungog Shire.
Bill actively supports his Landcare group through weed removal and installing nest boxes around the Common. He conducts educational walks and talks for school children and TAFE students, adult educators, and service clubs throughout the Common, all voluntary.
With a lifelong interest in the flora and fauna of the shire, Bill was responsible for identifying the presence of the Vulnerable Slaty Red Gum (Eucalyptus glaucina) and the Critically Endangered White-flowered wax plant (Cynanchum elegans) on the Common. He is also a key contributor to the herbarium at the Hunter Botanical Gardens, where he has been identifying, collecting and processing plant specimens from the Common for several years.
Muswellbrook Shire Council – Sustainability Award
The Hunter Region Landcare Network staff and committee were all proud as punch to learn that our very own Chairperson, Stephen Thatcher, was the recipient of the Sustainability Award.
As a former hydrographer, Stephen Thatcher has a passion for healthy water systems. After his retirement he formed Muscle Creek Landcare in 1995 with the ambitious goals of bringing the mussels back to Muscle Creek. The groups work focused on reducing the weeds and introduced species and replacing them with native species that would improve the water quality in the creek and create a healthy ecosystem.
Stephen is a strong advocate for the environment, and is recognised for his commitment to strengthening community/industry connections through his numerous roles on management boards and committees. He is the long-time chairman of the combined Landcare and Hunter Catchment Management Trust and Lake Liddell Recreation Area Trust Board, as well as vice-president for the Upper Hunter Country Tourism, and member AGL community Dialogue Group.
It is through these positions that he has forged positive outcomes for the local environment. An example is Lake Liddell Recreation Area where he has been instrumental in having Scouts, Landcare and other community groups plant thousands of trees and expand on the previously degraded green space.