History & The Vault


NRCL History

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.

For over seventy five years, the League has maintained its dedication to conservation, wise use of native resources, and promoting awareness of the synecology of soil and water, plants and wildlife on public and private land.

It also developed community forests in partnership with local councils and communities in the 1940s and 1950s including at Charlton, Dandenong and Mt Martha. 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).

Along the way an impressive reputation was earned for numerous conservation initiatives, including annual production and distribution of over a million native trees for farms, local councils and schools, and for various publications and conventions, field days, training nrcl1972-VictorianConservationPrize_200programs, Junior Tree Lovers’ League and Arbor Day activities.

The NRCL sponsored the formation of a new conservation body, the Conservation Council of Victoria which later became Environment Victoria. In 1972, the League’s accomplishments were publicly recognised by the State Minister for Conservation with the inaugural ‘Victoria Conservation Prize’ for “the most significant contribution to the conservation of the natural resources of the State of Victoria over the previous five years”. The award related particularly to the League’s role in the statewide campaign to protect what became the Little Desert National Park.

NRCL was responsible for starting some other conservation movements and providing vital advocacy and support to several more. Education and training programs have historically been an essential part of the league’s activities with various programs provided to government authorities, local councils, farm members, schools, clubs and other interest groups.

Significant re-organisation in 2003, included divestment of four plant nurseries and withdrawal from the League’s long term home in Springvale. From 2004-10, the NRCL operated environmental education activities at Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre and the Waterwheel Centre at Warburton.

A history of the League was published in 1991, although currently out of print, this is available in some libraries. Reference: Robin, Libby (1991) Building a Forest Conscience: An robin1991-nrcl-smhistorical portrait of the Natural Resources Conservation League of Victoria (NRCL) 1944-1990, Natural Resources Conservation League of Victoria. In 2011, Dr Libby Robin (ANU) presented an insightful retrospective on the history and work of the NRCL since its formation 6 decades ago.

Today, the NRCL remains an independent, not-for-profit company committed to the promotion of the sustainable management of Victoria’s natural resources and supporting the efforts of community-based networks working to restore landscapes across the state.

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. A thriving and well resourced community sector is vital for effective action on landscape restoration. The NRCL Grants Program has provided funds and mentorship to a number of Landcare and conservation organisations across Victoria. Its latest project has supported the creation of the Bunanyung Landscape Alliance.


The Vault

 Early Film Footage
 1959_01_01_000a  Victoria’s Resources (1959-1980)
 treesnat4401-000  Trees and Natural Resources (1985-2003)
 treevic2604-000b  Trees and Victoria’s Resources (1981-1984)
 consnews_1955n03  Conservation News (1954-1958)
 highlights_nrcl1944-65-00  NRCL Highlights 1944-1965
 malleeconvention_nrcl1954-00  1954 Ouyen Convention
 development_nrcl1959-01  NRCL Inauguration & Development