Expect the row between the new Australian Environment Foundation and the Australian Conservation Foundation
to step up a notch. The AEF has just appointed Don Burke – yes, that
Don Burke – as its chair. He’s marked his appointment with these

The established environment groups are too
preoccupied with headlines and publicity stunts rather than the hard
work of finding enduring solutions. They are poor at following through,
and often seem unreasonably prejudiced against people and industry.

The AEF wants to promote honest debate and discussion and a more evidence-based approach…

Once a National Park has been declared, the old conservation
movement too often decamped without asking whether the resources or the
will were there to properly maintain these areas. The result is
National Parks are full of feral weeds and prone to destructive wild fires.

Then there are global issues. What is the role for Australia in
feeding, clothing and providing energy to the rapidly growing Asian
economies? How do we cope with legitimate human aspirations in a world
of limited resources?

The AEF is about innovative solutions for real world problems. We are
a fresh group taking a fresh approach recognising that the old
conservation paradigms don’t always suit.”

Burke is an immediately recognisable figure. He has strong credentials
as a founding member of the Year of the Tree, Greening Australia, the
Decade of the Tree and Sustainable Development Australia. He has been a
board member of Landcare Australia and helped get the first ever
environmental weed legislation in NSW during his time as president of
the state branch of the Australian Institute of Horticulture.

He isn’t as scary-looking as Peter Garrett – but his appointment will
give the big boys of the green lobby a fright. The ACF has already
sicked m’learned friends on to the AEF alleging a Trademark Infringement
on the basis of its name.

Stay tuned for a brawl over what being an environmental organisation is all about.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey