The Foundation's conservation interests stem from the inspiration and commitment of our founders - in particular Thistle Stead.
Thistle was actively involved in the campaign to save Lake Pedder, a unique glacial lake in south-western Tasmania which was threatened from the late 1960s by government plans for a hydro-electricity scheme. Thistle’s role involved regular travel to Tasmania to support those opposing the scheme and to address interested parties, while in the interim maintaining pressure through continuous lobbying from her Sydney base. The loss of Lake Pedder had direct bearing on the creation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area ten years later, and on much of the history of the green political movement from 1972 forwards.
Thistle's philosophy of conservation grounded in social and humanitarian values and transcending any simple acceptance that the natural environment deserves preservation. Thistle linked the ideal of preservation to her belief that humanity had a deep-seated, ‘primitive’ need which could be fulfilled only through meaningful connection with the natural world, and she further linked environmentalism with other social causes, including world peace. As the world confronts climate change as a global issue, Thistle Harris’s arguments take on a new relevance.
The Foundation's primary conservation activity has been establishment and maintenance of the 95 hectare site in the NSW southern Highlands, Wirrimbirra Sanctuary. Wirrimbirra incorporates 83 hectares of natural Bargo Brush, native to the local area - as it was when white settlers first found the Lyrebird, Wombat and Koala in the area, over 200 years ago.