Environmentalists who are saving the planet & showing the way forward

He who cups the flame can enlighten a few — Anonymous

Not all are born free not all are born to lead, yet he who breaks the shackles can free mankind of the vice. Very few people know how to love back.

The nature since Day-I has been kind to mankind with occasional bouts of wrath like the 40-day flood, the pandemics, the cholera and now the novel coronavirus. But amid all have risen some extraordinary men and women who have given back nature what it deserves. They have nurtured nature like it has always done to us.

Here are some famous environmentalists who have cupped the flame to enlighten humans on how a little bit of tweaking in lifestyle can change the nature of nature. We apologize in advance if we miss out some of the prominent names in environment conservation but thus goes the list:

Aila Keto

  • Age: 75
  • Birthplace: Tully, Australia
  • Who: Aila is the founder and president of Rainforest Conservation Society in Queensland, Australia, now known as the Australia Rainforest Conservation Society.
  • Why: She has made major contribution to conservation science, policy and practical programmes over decades and is widely acknowledged for her leadership, influence, knowledge and experience. Because of her work more than 15,000km² of Queensland’s rainforest is protected today. A further 15,000km2 of other forests have been scheduled. Three areas have been successfully nominated for World Heritage status: Wet Tropics, Fraser Island and the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.
  • Awards: In 2005, Keto was a recipient of the Queensland Greats Awards. Keto bagged the Officer of the Order of Australia in 1994 and was also nominated in 2000 the Queenslander of the Year. She was awarded Centenary Medal for service as an expert on wet tropics and as a leading conservationist and academic in 2001.

Peter Cundall

  • Age: 91
  • Birthplace: Manchester, England
  • Who: Peter is an English-born Australian horticulturalist, conservationist, author, broadcaster and television personality. He lives in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley and till the age of 81 he continued to be a presenter of ABC TV program Gardening Australia.
  • Why: Cundall became a household name for Australian gardeners. The television show and magazine, Gardening Australia, Cundall represented had both young and old gardeners and admirers. At Gardening Australia Live shows, Cundall’s presentations attract millions of viewers. In a 2008 issue of Reader’s Digest, he stood 8th in a poll of the 100 most-trusted Australians.
  • Awards: He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2007 for service to the environment, particularly the protection of wilderness areas in Tasmania, and to horticulture and also as presenter of gardening programs on TV and radio.

Bob Brown

  • Age: 74
  • Birthplace: Oberon, Australia
  • Who: Brown is a doctor and environmentalist and a former senator and former Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens.
  • Why: Brown was the principal protester of The Franklin Dam or Gordon-below-Franklin Dam project, which was proposed on the Gordon River in Tasmania, Australia. The dam was never constructed. The movement became one of the most-significant environment campaigns in Australian history.
  • Awards: Brown was elected to the Australian Senate on the Tasmanian Greens ticket, joining with sitting Greens Western Australia senator Dee Margetts to form the first group of Australian Greens senators following the 1996 federal election. He was re-elected in 2001 and in 2007.

Peter Garrett

  • Age: 65
  • Birthplace: Wahroonga, Australia
  • Who: Garrett is an Australian musician, environmentalist, activist and former politician. Garrett was the lead singer of Australian rock band Midnight Oil.
  • Why: As minister for the environment, Garrett was key in the campaign against “scientific whaling” in the Antarctic, which culminated in Australia’s successful challenge to Japanese whaling in the International Court of Justice in 2014.
  • Awards: Garrett served as the president of the Australian Conservation Foundation for 10 years and in 2003 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the environment and music industry. He was also the Australian Labor Party member of the House of Representatives from October 2004 to August 2013.

John Wamsley

  • Age: 81
  • Birthplace: Ourimbah, New South Wales
  • Who: Wamsley is an Australian environmentalist who was the Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the Year for 2003. He is known to set up a network of wildlife sanctuaries across Australia.
  • Why: Wamsley is regarded as the father of the feral proof fence. His fence has been proven to be an effective way to protect native animals from introduced predators such as cats and foxes.
  • Awards: At age 16, Wamsley became a trainee metallurgist with BHP. Dissatisfied with the job he became a labourer in BHP’s open-hearth furnaces and worked a second job renovating run down houses. By age 23, Wamsley was a millionaire.

Ian Kiernan

  • Age: 78
  • Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
  • Who: Ian Bruce Carrick Kiernan was an Australian yachtsman, builder, environment campaigner and conservationist, known for co-founding the not-for-profit Clean Up Australia campaign in 1989. And in 1993 a similar Clean Up the World operation, serving as the event’s chairman. The annual cause attracted participation from 30 million volunteers in 80 countries.
  • Why: During a BOC Challenge, Kiernan was aghast by the amount of rubbish he saw choking the oceans. With the support of friends, he organised a community event Clean Up Sydney Harbour in 1989. Around 40,000 volunteers turned out to help and collected over 5,000 tonnes of garbage. Since then he never looked back as far safeguarding the environment is concerned.

Awards: The Australian Government awarded him the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1991. He was awarded Australian of the Year in 1994. In 1995, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia. In 1998, he received the UNEP Sasakawa Prize. He also received the World Citizenship Award from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 1999. In 2001, he got the Centenary Medal for “service to the Clean Up Australia Campaign and the Clean up the World Campaign”. In 2006, Kiernan was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Trust of Australia.

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