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40th Anniversary40th Anniversary

VEAC celebrates 40 years

It’s 40 years since the first meeting of VEAC’s predecessor, the Land Conservation Council.  Minister Ryan Smith joined VEAC Chairperson Duncan Malcolm to celebrate the anniversary with former ministers, chairs, council members, staff, and representatives from community, science, public service and industry.

The council was established by the Bolte government in 1971 to provide advice on public land use. At the first meeting of the Land Conservation Council on 1 April 1971 Minister Bill Borthwick told the new councillors to make their recommendations on the use of public land “as if for a thousand years”.  One of the 12 council members from that first meeting, Dr David Wishart, then Director of Agriculture, was an honoured guest at the celebration.

Former and current Chairs and Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Prof Kate Auty reflected on an organisation that has had a profound effect on the way Victorians perceive and use public land, literally changing the map of Victoria. “The Land Conservation Council and its successors the Environment Conservation Council and the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) have transformed the manner in which Victoria manages its public land and natural resources,” said the Minister. “The model pioneered by the Land Conservation Council meant the use of public land wasn’t decided in an ad hoc manner but reviewed systematically on the basis of comprehensive information and public input. This process has seen our state lead the way in public land use planning in Australia.”

The Minister also highlighted the impetus that the LCC studies and investigations provided for flora and fauna work in Victoria from the 1970s onwards. The surveys conducted for the LCC by scientists based at the Museum, the Herbarium and the Arthur Rylah Institute were an enormous boost to the flora and fauna databases for this state, he said.

As a tribute to the vision of Bill Borthwick, Australia’s first Minister for Conservation, VEAC has established the Bill Borthwick Student Scholarships. These scholarships are intended to assist with some of the costs of research for students undertaking Honours, Masters or PhD research projects relating to public land in Victoria in the fields of natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, economics or politics. Applications for the first round will be advertised later this year.

Photos of the event are available to view on our flickr site.