Make 2021 a better year for nature

The year we make a big difference for nature

Bushfires and the global pandemic have made it clear we need local solutions, run by communities, for the recovery of people, wildlife and the environment.

Continental level change is also required to address the causes and impacts of the bushfires, which are a symptom of the climate crisis that is also driving species extinction.

We’re working for a future that does not rely on continued destruction of nature and our climate, but rather flourishes because of responsible custodianship of these core life support systems.

We will continue to establish and strengthen dialogue with First Nations peoples about decisions that impact their lands and waters, and walk alongside First Nations in pursuit of environmental protection and in recognition of their custodianship. (Image: Chris Tzaros)

Priority activities for 2021 include:

EXPOSE AND SHIFT THE BALANCE OF POWER

With your help, we’ll work to shift the disproportionate political power of particular destructive industries. Highlighting illegality, lack of enforcement and conflicts of interest.

POWER UP FOR COMMUNITY AND NATURE

We’ll continue to increase the power of the community in decisions about environmental protection and stewardship. We’ll also continue to expose the times when community wishes are ignored.

CELEBRATE AND PROTECT SPECIAL PLACES

With your help we’ll work to protect and defend terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems of global significance. Pushing for better management of these special places, while respecting First Nations’ rights and aspirations.

Make 2021 a better year for nature

Please join with Australians like Cassandra to make 2021 the year that we enable communities to exert their influence and protect the places we love.

Cassandra built her home in Nymboida, NSW, in 1981. Her four kids grew up playing in the bushland and swimming in the Nymbodia River. It was an idyllic place to raise a family. But over the years, Cassandra saw her beautiful environment change.

Logging thinned out the forest and drove a lot of animals away. The droughts got worse. When bushfires hit last summer, the rainforest was as dry as tinder.

Her community had little warning. The day before the flames reached her home, Cassandra climbed onto her roof to check her sprinklers. She saw a red, golden glow over the horizon. It sounded like a tornado. Cassandra didn’t even have time to grab anything. She jumped in her car with her terrified neighbour and drove. The next day, her house had burnt to the ground.

Last Christmas Day, Cassandra and her kids stood on what was once their bushland sanctuary. There were no trees, no birds, no animals. Cassandra said: ‘‘the loss is an injury to the soul.’’

Today, Cassandra is rebuilding her life around protecting nature and her community. She’s started women’s days to replant the bush, and is more determined than ever to fight climate change. (Main image top: Cassandra Plessman).

A home lost

The bushfire that tore through the Nymboida district last November claimed 85 homes and razed thousands of acres of bushland. Cassandra lost everything. She left with just the clothes on her back.

"We had more than thirty happy years in our home, surrounded by unspoilt wilderness. It meant a lot to give my kids a childhood spent playing in lush rainforest amongst tiger quolls and koalas, and swimming in a magnificent river system. And for me, it was a sanctuary. My safe place. No matter what, my bushland home was always there to welcome me," says Cassandra Plesman. ​

Cassandra's house in February 2019. Image: Cassandra Plessman.

Cassandra's house in February 2019. Image: Cassandra Plessman.

"When I first arrived, I saw a koala. There were tiger quoll, kangaroo and platypus down in the river. We named the property Aerie, because it means ‘eagles nest’. I built the house with my family. It was where I raised my children.

The wildlife was part of the family at Cassandra's home.

The wildlife was part of the family at Cassandra's home.

"A year ago, I lost everything. The home that I built with my own hands, where my kids grew up. Gone, in a devastating bushfire. There was no warning. I was checking the sprinklers and I saw a red glow on the horizon and a sound like a tornado. It was terrifying. I wasn’t sure I was going to get out in time. Within hours, there was nothing left.

Cassandra Plesman outside of her home after the bushfires. Image: Gemma Plesman.

Cassandra Plesman outside of her home after the bushfires. Image: Gemma Plesman.

"Now, there’s nothing there. The bush is slowly slowly starting to grow back, but the animals - and our home - are gone. Losing the home that I built, the nature that surrounded it and my life there has injured my soul. I can’t recover. Instead, I’ll recreate myself. I’m going to dedicate myself to making a difference with climate change. The Government isn’t addressing it, so it’s up to us."

What was left of Cassandra's property in December 2019 after the fires.

What was left of Cassandra's property in December 2019 after the fires.

A note from Cassandra

"Something wonderful has to come out of something so negative. I have to recreate myself. As part of that, I want to help my community and volunteer for organisations that are tackling climate change.

Cassandra with her daughter Gemma. Image: Gemma Plesman

Cassandra with her daughter Gemma. Image: Gemma Plesman

"It’s disgraceful our Government refuses to address the issues of climate change. But I am uplifted and comforted by all the Australians out there who are doing things in a positive way. We must stand together, every one of us, to make a difference for nature."