Esperance environmental action group to mark 30 years

Green future: LEAF life member Cheryl Bradley and chairperson Jan Archer will be joined by founding LEAF members at Museum Village for the unveiling of a bronze plaque to mark the milestone. Photo: Sarah Makse.
Green future: LEAF life member Cheryl Bradley and chairperson Jan Archer will be joined by founding LEAF members at Museum Village for the unveiling of a bronze plaque to mark the milestone. Photo: Sarah Makse.

The Local Environmental Action Forum will return to the site where it all began on Sunday, November 10, to mark their 30th anniversary.

LEAF members past and present will gather at Museum Village to unveil a plaque and toast the group's years of environmental action.

It was at the same site in 1989 where a century old mulberry tree was chopped down without community consultation that inspired a concerned group of citizens to form LEAF.

Since that day, the group has focused on keeping environmental protection at the core of the community and assisted groups to take action on environmental issues.

Volunteers have met at least once a month for three decades with the group remaining strong with 30 members today.

LEAF chairperson Jan Archer said the group had always been a watchdog for the environment even when faced with dwindling numbers.

"It's got an important role in town, you don't know what is around the corner environmentally and we just need to be there in case something happens," she said.

The group has remained a trusted voice in conversations about the environmental issues facing Esperance.

LEAF has written many submissions to local and state government and successfully lobbied for an environmental officer at the Shire of Esperance.

They also campaigned for a recycling centre, led clean ups, citizen science projects and managed coastal rehabilitation works.

Defining moments for the group included fighting the establishment of the Esperance tuna farm, preventing open stockpiles of iron ore in the port and cleaning the aftermath of the 2006 lead disaster.

Mrs Archer said the group led an important community effort to save wildlife following the sinking of the Sanko Harvest in 1991.

"Our president got together 200 people and he had to make little pens for the seals, collect the birds, wash the oil off them, walk kilometres along the beach with wheelbarrows and fill them with oil, all the beach was covered, it was devastating to the town," she said.

The group is currently joining the Fight for the Great Australian Bight and Esperance Wind Farm, and is assisting the Shire to rehabilitate Dempster Head.

LEAF life member Cheryl Bradley said the group encouraged young, passionate locals to join in and keep the vision alive.

"The sanctity of the environment affects everybody right down to the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, what will and won't grow because of the climate," she said.

"LEAF has been working in partnership with numerous other organisations including the Shire, to bring a lot of successful outcomes to the town and the environment.

"The reputation of LEAF is well established and if there's going to be a development in town LEAF is generally invited to the table."

Mrs Bradley said the group had an important role to have global conversations that inspired local change.

"It's time that the governing bodies of the world paid attention, business as usual is not going to work anymore, it's caused damage to our world environment that is going to be irreparable in the living future," she said.

"If global action is not taken now, there will be consequences."

LEAF will hold a market stall detailing the history of the group at the Museum Village on November 10, followed by a plaque unveiling at 12pm and a finger food lunch at the Village Cafe.

To book lunch or find out more, contact Jan Archer on 0420638851.