As our President of 30 years steps down we want to thank a man who devoted three decades of unwavering service to the rainforest.

Dr Tony Parkes AO was a co-founder of the Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group when we first formed in 1993. He was instrumental in unifying the first group of concerned community members – a gathering of over 100 land owners and conservationists – after a meeting in Clunes.

Since that time, he relentlessly applied his formidable skills from the business world to rally together land owners, philanthropists, business and government – and focus their attention on the plight of the Big Scrub. Under Tony’s leadership, Big Scrub Landcare grew into Big Scrub Rainforest Conservancy, one of the country’s largest and most successful community conservation organisations.

From an Order of Australia to leading multiple community organisations and most importantly inspiring us all, his achievements are too many to count. To name just a few:

  • 30 years at the helm of Big Scrub Rainforest Conservancy, presiding over its care of 50 rainforest remnants that were heading rapidly towards almost certain destruction from weeds and the planting of over 2.5 million trees on 700 hectares of land, doubling the size of the remaining Big Scrub,
  • Multiple NSW Landcarer and Landcare Group awards, the prestigious Australian Minister for the Environment’s Banksia Award for Community Conservation Leadership and an Order of Australia,
  • Chair of the Richmond Regional Vegetation Committee and Vice-Chair of the Richmond Catchment Management Committee,
  • Co-founder and Chair for eight years of Rainforest Rescue, set up originally to raise money for the Big Scrub,
  • Co-founder and chair for fourteen years of Envite, a leading ecological restoration services group in the region,
  • Co-founder of the Big Scrub Rainforest Day, now recognized as Australia’s largest annual Landcare community engagement and education event,
  • He was instrumental in the process that led to the listing of lowland subtropical rainforest being as critically endangered under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity and Conservation Act,
  • Established the Big Scrub Foundation to provide permanent ongoing funding for Big Scrub rainforest restoration work,
  • Coordination and publication of our highly regarded practical manual on subtropical rainforest restoration which has sold thousands of copies and is used up and down the east coast,
  • Planting 40,000 trees to restore 12 ha of rainforest on his own property with skilled helpers including Darren Bailey and Mark Dunphy,
  • Carrying out the design of planting trials on his own property that led to industry changes in tree spacings, ground covers and fertilisers,
  • Conceptualising and running the world leading Science Saving Rainforests program.

His long-term friend and co-founder of Big Scrub Rainforest Conservancy, Mark Dunphy, paid tribute to Tony at December’s Annual General Meeting, where it was announced that Tony will be stepping back to the role of President Emeritus.

“When I first met Tony and discovered he was an investment banker from Mosman I thought ‘how is this going to work’?

He then spent 30 years full-time, unpaid running the Big Scrub Rainforest Conservancy to amazing heights, and he would say it was a team effort, but without Tony and his energy and skills – the original ‘Wolf of Rainforest Restoration’ – the Big Scrub Rainforest Conservancy would not have thrived to what it is today.”

Tony will continue to be a guiding hand for Big Scrub Rainforest Conservancy as President Emeritus. What he has achieved in the past 30 years has set us up for many many years to come. Thank you Tony!