By Kath Tuft
General Manager

We recently won an award for one of our most incredible but ordinary-sounding achievements; just hanging around for 20 years!

The Roxby Downs Business Longevity Awards was a swish evening where local businesses gathered to celebrate sticking it out in Roxby Downs and Olympic Dam, and share their stories of endurance and success. It might seem tokenistic, but it is no small feat.  And the key to Arid Recovery’s success is the unwavering commitment from our founders and partners; BHP, the SA Department for Environment and Water, the University of Adelaide and most recently, Bush Heritage Australia.

Roxby Downs Business Longevity Awards 2018; Nicole Montgomerie (BHP), Hannah Bannister (UNSW), Melissa Jensen (Arid Recovery), Milly Breward (Arid Recovery), Kath Tuft (Arid Recovery) & Andrew Winterfield (BHP). Photo: Mike Nelson.

It is generally easier to get funding for something new and exciting, compared to “old stories” or ongoing efforts. “Help us keep things ticking along” is not a great sales pitch. Indeed, there are at least four other fenced reserves similar to Arid Recovery that were built on a surge of enthusiasm but that have quietly fallen to pieces over the years – losing their animals and so much of their hard work forgotten – because the ongoing commitment faltered for various reasons.

Our longevity as a small not-for-profit conservation organisation way out in the desert is due in large part to the consistent support of our corporate partner BHP, and WMC before them. We have never had to invest large chunks of income back into raising more funds. Keeping Arid Recovery running is no small thing – all the fence maintenance it requires, the people needed to be available 24/7 to respond to incursions, carefully guiding reintroductions, and coordinating all the fantastic volunteers who want to contribute. None of that is possible without a consistent commitment of support.

Also critical to our long term success are our founders John Read and Katherine Moseby who have stayed with us through thick and thin. John worked as an environmental scientist at the Olympic Dam mine in the 1990s, and Katherine worked as an ecologist in the region. Together, their enthusiasm for the project inspired many Roxby Downs locals and businesses to volunteer their time and services to construct the first fence and do the first reintroductions. Their institutional knowledge continues to assist us on a weekly basis. Read more about their stories here.

Arid Recovery’s founders; John Read and Katherine Moseby.

Olympic Dam also celebrates a milestone this year – with BHP marking 30 years of operation. I had the pleasure of meeting BHP’s other South Australian community partners at an event last week: the Art Gallery of South AustraliaKokatha Aboriginal Corporation and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. We talked about the great work they are doing and flagged some interesting collaborations we could pursue. This year we’re working with Kokatha to ramp up control of introduced predators on Kokatha land around the Arid Recovery Reserve, aiming to have that country support bettongs, bilbies and quolls again one day.

We’re looking forward to catching up with many of you at the Roxby Downs Family Day celebration this Saturday. As our community marks 30 years of Olympic Dam and the Roxby Downs community, I want to thank BHP for their consistent and generous support of Arid Recovery over the years and look forward to all that we’ll achieve together in the next 30.