75 years of conservation action – 1944–2019
The Natural Resources Conservation League (NRCL) has its origins in the devastating 1939 bushfires in Victoria. Formed in 1944, originally as the Save the Forests Campaign, the NRCL has a long history of building the capacity of the Victorian community to actively participate in, and influence conservation and natural resource management issues. It has always had a practical focus, seeking to promote change through education, partnering and promoting community engagement in revegetation.
The NRCL ran a number of nurseries across Victoria from 1946 to 2003. These nurseries promoted the use of native plants on farms as shelter belts and as all councils were members of the League, large numbers of plants were used by councils on nature strips and in reserves. It established a Land Owners’ Reafforestation Movement in 1949 supporting many soldier settlers to revegetate their properties. Millions of plants were supplied to landowners and councils across Victoria.
It also developed a large number of community forests in partnership with local councils. Many sites across Victoria were planted and a number remain today.
The NRCL ran regional forums on natural resource management issues for a number of decades. The first was held at Maryborough in 1953.
The NRCL produced a journal from 1954 to the early 2000s known variously as the Conservation News (1954-59) Victoria’s Resources (1959-1981), Trees and Victoria’s Resources (1981-1985), Trees and Natural Resources (1985-2003).
The NRCL was instrumental in the creation of the Little Desert National Park in 1969. It also sponsored the formation of a new conservation body, the Conservation Council of Victoria which later became Environment Victoria. The NRCL won the 1972 Victoria Conservation Prize for its significant contribution to conservation of the natural resources of Victoria.
From 2003 to 2011, the NRCL focused on environmental education, working with schools to promote greater understanding of conservation issues.
Since 2011, the board has sought to build on the NRCL’s proud heritage of supporting community engagement and building the capacity of community based organisations to undertake conservation projects that reflect our vision of protecting and enhancing ecosystems. The NRCL Grants Program has provided funds and mentorship to a number of Landcare and conservation organisations across Victoria. Its latest project in 2018-19, supported by a grant from Trees Victoria, has supported the creation of the Bunanyung Landscape Alliance.
Following the success of the Grants Program, the NRCL is launching a new charitable trust, the Natural Resources Conservation Trust that will build on the work already undertaken and provide significant funds to support community-based landscape restoration projects. Our new website, currently under construction will set out our future directions.