Passionate conservationist who loved the Far South Coast

ONLY days before his death in January from lymphoma, former ACT Conservation Council executive director John Hibberd helped finalise proposals for two new national parks.

One was a vast urban park for Canberra, stretching from Mulligan's Flat in the north to Red Hill in the south, and protecting one of Australia's biggest remnants of critically endangered yellow box grassy woodlands.

The other is an expansion of national parks in south-east NSW, which will protect koala habitat in the Wapengo catchment south of Bermagui.

Now the late John Hibberd (1945-2012) has been honoured for his outstanding contribution to the environment movement at the NSW Nature Conservation Council’s 2012 NSW Environment Awards last week.

Mr Hibberd’s name has been added to the Allen Strom Hall of Fame for long-standing service and commitment to the conservation movement, and for having had the courage to challenge government and non-government decision-makers.

NCC chief executive Pepe Clarke paid tribute to Mr Hibberd, who was the organisation’s executive officer and manager of the NSW Environment Centre from 1976 to 1979.

“The protection of koalas along the NSW south coast and bringing an end to logging in the area was very close to John’s heart and he worked alongside environment groups such as the South East Region Conservation Alliance to raise awareness of the importance of preserving forests for koala habitat,” Mr Clarke said.

“John joined the NCC executive in 2006 as the convenor of the SERCA. He was the NCC representative on the Biamanga National Park Board of management since the freehold was handed over in 2008 to local Aboriginal Land Councils, something which gave John great satisfaction.

“John was the founding secretary and treasurer for the Australian Committee of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and worked for the National Parks and Wildlife Service from 1979 to 1989.”

Mr Hibberd spent much of his professional life as an environmental consultant both in Australia and overseas, largely on various aid projects.

Gulaga (Mt Dromedary) Protection Group chairman Sean Burke said John worked to look after our special places here on the Far South Coast over many years and his assistance was sorely missed by those trying to carry on his tireless work.

John lived at Wapengo but spent most of his time around the country, particularly in Canberra in his later years, Mr Burke said.

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