River

2009 Conservationist of the Year Awardee: Ray Thomas

Monday 19 October, 2009
Ray Thomas has been awarded the Australian Geographic Society Conservationist of the Year for 2009.

Ray Thomas has been awarded the Australian Geographic Society Conservationist of the Year for 2009.

Ray works with the Department of Conservation & Environment as a Land for Wildlife Officer, one of his roles was to initiate community support for the threatened regent honeyeater in Benalla, Victoria.

Starting out as a secondary schoolteacher of chemistry, maths and sciences in the early 70s, Ray Thomas became a self-taught botanist during many years spent bushwalking. He has discovered three new plant species and throughout his two decades of teaching has instilled in his students a love for and understanding of the natural world - through seed collection, propagation and protection of rare plants near Euroa, Victoria.

Taking up full-time work with the Department of Conservation & Environment as a Land for Wildlife Officer, one of Ray's roles was to initiate community support for the threatened regent honeyeater in Benalla, Victoria.

Ray is now the project coordinator for the Regent Honeyeater Project in Benalla. Under his watch, the project has become one of the most active volunteer conservation projects in the nation, involving roughly 17,000 adult volunteers.

Project work includes improving remnant box-ironbark habitats for endangered species still living inthe region and large-scale tree-planting. Almost 900 ha of restored habitat is reducing salinity and erosion; and improving water quality, stock shelter and natural pest control.

With Ray's passion for protection and preservation of the environment it's no wonder he has been named the Australian Geographic Society 2009 Conservationist of the Year.

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Marli Kelly 0409 410 178