CAPE YORK, QLD
Indigenous man Trevor Meldrum and Vera Scarth-Johnson, the English botanist who ‘adopted’ him, have saved more farming land around Cooktown in Queensland than most people will ever realise.
Trevor, the Environmental Operations Manager with the small not-for-profit Cape York Weeds and Feral Animals Incorporated (pictured), is working closely with community groups and farmers to restore areas of Cape York.
Trevor knows that fixing environmental problems and eradicating noxious weeds and feral animals takes a long time and a lot of commitment. But he relishes the chance to work with people who share his passion for the land.
He loves his country and says his determination was strengthened by his very early years with Vera, whose work and botanical illustrations helped so
many Australians grow to love and value the flora and environment around Cooktown and the Endeavour River Valley, on Cape York Peninsula. Trevor’s organisation, with support from Highways and Byways, has run training field days where locals come and discuss their land management, weeds and feral animal issues. It also provides one-on-one support to farmers and organisation interested in restorative land management.
“We help heal our land and ourselves by training our people to reduce the loss of natural habitats, degradation and fragmentation, and to protect and conserve important World Heritage Areas.”
Trevor said a recent project illustrated the work of his organisation, which is run, by part-time officersand volunteers with decades of land management experience. “We worked closely with a landholder who bought a large cattle property in Endeavour Valley. The property was a mess and we had to start from scratch working with them on weed identification, the use of herbicides and animal trapping techniques. These people were passionate about the country and wanted to make the land well again. They were willing to change behaviours rather than go for the quick fix which could be bad for the environment,” Trevor said. “I blame Vera, my grandma, who was a true environmentalist. I love my work; it gives me a reason to get out of bed every day.”