ARARAT - Ararat Landcare Group has recognised the work of long standing members Keith Little and Peter Forster by awarding them life memberships.
The story of Landcare Australia is about an initiative that was launched in 1989 by the then Prime Minister Bob Hawke in the Statement on the Environment, and it began as a joint initiative of the National Farmers' Federation and the Australian Conservation Foundation. It is uniquely Australian.
Now, the Landcare Australia movement has 4000 Landcare and 2000 Coastcare groups. It is a partnership of community organisations, government and business, protecting the environment in many ways with weed control, re-vegetation projects large and small, and education; by raising community awareness.
Ararat Landcare Group started in 1999 when Peter Forster called a public meeting with the possibility of forming an urban Landcare Group in Ararat, and Keith Little attended that meeting - and so the march on the war on Gorse in Ararat began in earnest!
Peter Forster took on the role of secretary from 1999 until 2012, and Keith Little was the president for nine years from 2001 until 2009. Together they have organised, planned and weeded and sprayed and sorted, purchased and planted and gathered a group of willing members/workers, up to 30 strong, along the way.
"Ararat Landcare might not exist without Peter and Keith's great work in those early days, and we decided at a business meeting earlier this year that formal recognition of their work should be acknowledged," long time member Geoff Ryan said.
"Everyone thought this was a really great idea.
"Peter and Christine have resettled to Anglesea in their retirement, and so we felt it was a perfect time to have this dual presentation."
Ian Foster and Geoff Ryan respectively presented Mr Forster and Mr Little with their framed Life Membership certificates. They were typically humble in their responses at the dinner, attended by 30 Landcare members and supporters.
Mr Foster reminded the gathering of Mr Forster's input.
"Special thanks must go to Peter who for 12 years did so much more than a secretary needed to do," he said.
"He was hands on, involved in on the ground works, but Peter also applied for grants, liased with Council and with Government, with Ararat Biolinks, he attended conferences, and set up displays at community events like the Eel Festival and the Ararat Show. Peter's enthusiasm was infectious."
As well as the long time generosity of spirit given in his lengthy responsibility as president, Mr Ryan talked about Mr Little's organisational skills and his keen interest in a better environment and community.
"This resulted in Landcare gaining funding and building the now well named Keith Little Bridge across the Cemetery Creek," Mr Ryan said.
"It is part of the Cemetery Creek walk track, all a result of Keith's hard work in Landcare."
Mr Ryan also described how Mr Little co-ordinated the indigenous planting around the new wing at the Ararat East Grampians Health Service, selected as an example of the use of hardy local plants in relation to water conservation.
Landcare vice president Joan Pitaro presented a bouquet mix of native flowers to Christine Forster for Christine's early involvement and constant support to Peter in the Ararat Landcare Group.