Lord of landcare honoured

Kate RastonCountryman

Greg Warburton has lost count of the number of trees he has planted and weeds he's killed to protect native vegetation.

After 15 years working in conservation, the Wheatbelt NRM officer has been awarded the top gong for an individual landcarer at this year's State Landcare Awards.

Mr Warburton's full-time job with the Northam-based natural resource management group doesn't stop there, with his spare time spent volunteering with Toodyay conservation groups.

"I spent my youth growing up in Kalamunda where I developed a love of the bush and nature," he said.

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"Fifteen years ago my wife Vicki and I moved to Toodyay, and this passion has grown into a career and a lifestyle.

"I'm a huge advocate for community-driven conservation, because I believe people can achieve so much if they focus and work as a team."

This is evident with the volunteer work he does through the Toodyay Friends of the River and the Toodyay Naturalists' Club, just two of many groups he's involved in.

Working with other local bird enthusiasts, Mr Warburton recently helped co-ordinate funding and work on a walking track and bird hide along a stretch of the Avon River near Toodyay.

The 5.6km Bilya Walking Track includes signage, seating, bridges, picnic tables and environmental weedcontrol.

"Through my work with Wheatbelt NRM, our weed team spent many months surveying a 150km stretch of the Avon River from Beverley to Toodyay, mapping infestations of tamarisk and bridal creeper using GPS," Mr Warburton said.

Both tamarisk and bridal creeper are listed as weeds of national significance. They were introduced as ornamental lants, but have consequently become highly invasive.

"My motivation in landcare is to try to restore and protect some of the land that has been poorly managed during European settlement," Mr Warburton said.

"It's very satisfying to see how landcare can improve degraded landscapes and water ways. This can be done more effectively with the help of the community."

Mr Warburton helped start landcare group Friends of the Dale near Beverley and CARE (Conserving the Avon River Environment), and has worked with Friends of Mortlock.

These groups are now actively engaged in revegetation, sediment removal, fencing and erosion control.

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