Raised by her parents to be practical, Heather Campbell has translated this into making a meaningful difference, dedicating nearly her entire career to the environmental space. For her, life is about working with like-minded people with the goal of making a positive impact on the world—and she has done just that. As CEO of Bush Heritage Australia, an independent not-for-profit, Heather leads over 100 staff members and 1,000 volunteers in their extraordinary conservation and environmental efforts to bring the bush back to good health.
Heather joined Melbourne-based Bush Heritage Australia 18 months ago. Born and raised in New Zealand, she is a proud “Kiwi” who grew up on farm, spending much of her time going into the bush. Now, as an adult, she is proud to help drive Bush Heritage’s mission to protect it. “Nature was always a happy place for me, and it’s great to be able to lead an organization that does work on the ground and makes an impact,” she says.
Bush Heritage was started 30 years ago by Dr. Bob Brown, who, after winning an environmental award, used the money to purchase blocks of land in Tasmania to protect them from logging. The organization has since grown into 1.3 million hectares, making up 36 reserves throughout Australia, including desert and rainforest areas. Bush Heritage team members partner with Aboriginal people and farmers to help them on their land and to assist in protecting Australia’s irreplaceable landscapes and wildlife.
With a daily mantra of “Fire, Ferals, and Weeds,” Bush Heritage’s primary focus is working to tip the balance in favor of native species. As part of their landscape management program, they manage fires, monitor feral animals, and work to keep weeds from getting out of control. During the cooler season, team members use controlled burning to reinvigorate the landscape and to prevent fires from spreading as a result of lightning. As a science-based organization, Bush Heritage uses internationally agreed-upon standards at scale. On their properties, staff members and volunteers have recorded over 6,700 species, of which 226 are threatened. Teams complete ecological monitoring, and they maintain habitat complexities and balance for all species.
Bush Heritage is also proud to work with Australia’s First Nations people, who have graciously extended invitations to them. The partnerships afford the organization a unique opportunity to not only help, but also to learn from Aboriginal people’s 60,000 years of knowledge. “We utilize a right-way scientific approach, which means sitting down and taking the time, with a deep respect, to help each other and work where they need it,” she explains. “The collective vision is a healthy country protected forever.”
Heather joined Bush Heritage with an eclectic background. She served as CEO of Landcare Australia, a movement of people focused on environmental and sustainable agriculture issues such as weeds, introduced animals, and planting in bush areas. She is also the former chair of Sustainability Victoria, a government agency that supports the community by providing grants and information on how to reduce waste, effectively use resources, and become more energy efficient. With 14 acres of her own land in Melbourne, she sees what it does for the spirit. “To be able to work across all environmental areas with a focus on action has been really uplifting,” she shares.
Chief Executive Officer
Bush Heritage Australia
P.O. Box 329 Flinders Lane, Melbourne Vic 8009
Level 1, 395 Collins Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
LinkedIn: Heather Campbell
Instagram and Twitter: @BushHeritageAus