Former natural resource leader dies

Many people in the K2C region will be saddened to learn about the death of Val Wiseman who died on 24 Feb.

Val Wiseman was a former Executive Officer of Greening Australia's ACT and southeast NSW office from 1989 to 1996. 

She joined GA when it was commissioned to manage the Hawke Government's One Billion Tree program and in that role she built up a network of farmers, newly-created Landcare groups, policy-makers and schools in order to plant trees across southeast NSW. 

She established a new plant nursery on Acton Peninsula  to create tubestock for direct planting. This was run by a pool of enthusiastic volunteers she recruited. Soon after, in 1990, she acquired GA's first machine for direct seeding, to help re-establish native trees on a large scale. Val. also organised staff and volunteers to collect seed from local species, and she shared the seed-collection techniques with local farmers. While GA had been commissioned to oversee the planting of a billion trees, Val recognised the importance of establishing complete plant communities, including grass and understorey species, and she made these part of GA's approach throughout the 1990s. 

She was also instrumental in establishing weed eradication programs. A particular focus in the ACT region was the management of willows - efforts which eventually led to willows being declared a weed, and the establishment of a national willow management plan.

In 1997, she was instrumental in the rehabilitation of the Upper and Middle Murrumbidgee River, removing seedling willows and revegetating the eroding river banks - a project run by GA, but guided by a committee chaired by Val. In addition, she set up community groups and policy structures to support revegetation, and was energetic in encouraging people to form Landcare groups. A key group in which Val. took a leading role in was the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment Committee (UMCC) - an umbrella group which brought together the ACT and NSW Governments, local governments, community groups, and non-government organisations with an interest in environmental management. She chaired the Committee until 2008. This Committee developed the first catchment plan for the Upper Murrumbidgee. Val also was elected to the Australian Landcare Council.

Grassroots action was the cornerstone of Val's approach. Her own property in Wallaroo, NSW, became a laboratory for testing different approaches to revegetation, with direct planting, direct seeding, and de-stocking all explored, along with various methods for capturing seed and preventing losses to rabbits.

K2C expresses its condolences to her family, especially to her son Rob who wrote this account of Val's contribution to natural resource management.