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Tim Petrie Dedicates Tall Tree at AEF Launch

05, June 2005

A different kind of environmental organisation, the Australian Environmental Foundation (AEF), was launched today in Tenterfield, northern NSW. 

AEF members traveled from as far away as Brisbane and Melbourne to watch and listen as 18-year old local Tim Petrie dedicated a huge blue gum tree which measures seven feet wide and over 100 feet high to commemorate the occasion.  “Our family properties have a long history of grazing, logging and management burning.  We have demonstrated for generations that land management is not restricted to a choice between production and conservation. Clearly we can have both.”

“It is with great pleasure that on behalf of my family I dedicate this tree to commemorate the official launch of the Australian Environment Foundation” said Tim.

Tenterfield Mayor Keith Pickstone introduced AEF spokesperson Kersten Gentle. The Mayor said he hoped that the occasion would be remembered as a turning point in Australia’s environmental history, in the same way Tenterfield is remembered as the birth place of Federation.

Ms Gentle launched the new Foundation and introduced the first campaign, titled Environmental Education and our Children.  Ms Gentle said, “the time has come for children to begin to think about environmental issues and seek out the evidence, rather than just accept the sometimes false ideology that is often taught in schools today.”

Other planned AEF campaigns include ensuring that existing National Parks and Reserves are managed properly, and the adequate control of feral animals and weeds.

In the discussion that followed the launch, comment was made that after Sir Henry Parkes’s speech it took 13 years to achieve Federation, but it did happen.  Likewise the AEF acknowledges that it will take time to turn around the present focus on environmental problems rather than solutions.

While the launch itself took perhaps only 40 minutes, the audience was reluctant to leave for morning tea.  They clearly wanted to discuss the many ideas and issues raised.   So, an hour-long discussion followed with Kersten answering questions.

One member of the audience declared his frustration.  He said he was tired of beating his head against a brick wall – that there was lots of evidence, but wrong decisions were continually being made.  Kersten replied “the time has come to walk around the brick wall, and this is what the AEF is all about’. 

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