Leon Hall and Steve Douglas

(Volunteers with Robertson Environment Protection Society): “Plants and animals can’t vote so we must represent them – and we can’t survive without them”

Leon and Steve have worked together on many projects in the Robertson area, and are founding members of the highly regarded Robertson Environment Protection Society Inc. (REPS). For 27 years they have been engaged in regeneration work at Hampton Park and along Caalang Creek. This area was, at that time, overgrown with blackberry, willows and the usual weeds. Today the site has been restored to a place of serene beauty with a clear-flowing creek.

Prior to settlement, the Robertson area was covered in thick rainforest, known as the Yarrawa Brush. The rich forest was cleared for agricultural uses such as potato growing, and only a few remnants of the original rainforest continued to survive in less accessible pockets and gullies. Propagation of the local plant species associated with the Yarrawa Brush has led to successful plantings such as are seen on the Hampton Park area. It is challenging to obtain such local provenance rainforest species and Leon and Steve were so successful, that they were able to supply a local nursery with rainforest plants for Robertson residents, thus increasing the general biodiversity throughout the town.

Planting rainforest species has its own challenges. Preparation for planting is very important and planting cannot take place if the weather is dry. At least half the species need a canopy established first. In Hampton Park they achieved this with Eucalypts and Blackwood first. Since, they have found that, as the environment recovers, some plants will regenerate by themselves. Steve and Leon consider there is a definite improvement both in the expanding of remnants and greater acceptance in the general community. Newer residents are found to be more willing to listen to advice, while a ‘patch of rainforest’ is now a selling point for the Real Estate Agents.

Working in Robertson has not been confined to Council-owned land, and Steve and Leon have also carried out bush regeneration and revegetation projects on a range of land tenures, including private and public lands including roads and rail corridors. They have kept an eye on water quality in the creek with participation in the original Streamwatch program.

Both Leon and Steve have served on the Executive of REPS, and between them, they have clocked up ten years in the President’s chair. Leon served on the Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee for several years, and was also active researching and taking action on the proposal to drain the Kangaloon aquifer to provide extra water to Sydney.

Here is a short video about Steve and Leon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QETj0xpEcY4