My wife Lucy and I do some occasional volunteering at a property near Bredbo, on the NSW Monaro. Its owned by a national conservation organisation (Bush Heritage Australia) which acquires and manages land to restore and recover its conservation values.

Scottsdale isn’t one of the most remote properties in their portfolio, nor at 1328 hectares is it one of their biggest.

But we like visiting the place for a few days each time to help out with jobs like weeding and revegetation.

Scottsdale sits on the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee River and part of it was originally cleared and then run for sheep grazing and cropping. But it is a place of grassy box woodlands and temperate grassland which also harbours many rare birds, mammals, fish and reptiles. Scottsdale is also an important part of the Kosciuszko 2 Coast project – a partnership helping landowners create connections between remnant woodlands and grasslands between Kosciuszko and Namadgi National Parks across to the escarpment forests on NSW’s far south coast.

When the property was acquired much of what remained was a degraded landscape with eroded gullies and a multitude of weeds like St Johns Wort and African Lovegrass. However, there were sufficient remnants of vegetation and less disturbed areas to provide a foundation for landscape rehabilitation. And then of course there are the platypus in the Murrumbidgee. Scottsdale’s bit of the Murrumbidgee contains platypus as well as a host of other creatures.

A lot of people would question why bother with Scottsdale – just a bit of clapped out old sheep country. But obviously Bush Heritage saw something there which was worth investing time, money and people. Conservation is not just about the fabulous pristine areas deep in the remote interior of Australia.
Lucy and I are a small part of that. But as well as enjoying the landscape of Scottsdale, we also enjoy meeting the other people involved in the conservation work there. Some are scientists and managers but others are volunteers from all walks of life. They all have different motivations and interests but what unites this small community at Scottsdale is a desire to repair, rebuild and restore.

Already we have noticed how the property seems different for the better. The shrubs and trees which are growing, the effect on erosion in the gullies from soil conservation works and the return to a more ‘natural’ appearance of the property from things such as removal of old fence lines. A nursery has also been established to produce seedlings and grasses for re-vegetation projects.

Seeing a place improve over time is an important motivator for doing conservation volunteer work. It makes the challenge of environmental problems less abstract, less remote.

Scottsdale has become a place where we hope to do volunteer work for many years to come.

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