Did you know that the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most biodiverse cities? With world Heritage-listed rainforests, coastal wetlands and more than fifty percent of its land surface covered in native vegetation – did you also know that we have more plant species here than the whole of England?! – the Gold Coast is certainly worth protecting.

And who better to protect it than a dedicated team of green volunteers – the passionate conservationists within our local community who go above and beyond to preserve our city’s natural heritage.

To acknowledge the incredible efforts of our green volunteers, and to align with International Volunteer Day, the City of Gold Coast hosted the Environmental Volunteer Awards back in December, celebrating the most effective green programs and the dedicated volunteers who participate in them.

Among the winners of the Outstanding Contribution to our Environment Award were Alex and Mirella Jakimoff, who are exceptional contributors to the Beaches to Bushland Program which aims to restore and enhance natural areas through various bush regeneration activities, and attracts a whopping 4000 volunteers per year.

“Over 25,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted and are thriving along Currumbin Creek, aiding erosion control and creating wildlife habitat,” says Alex, who has worked with the program since its inception in 2007. “It was exciting for our group’s success to be recognised and valued by the City.”

With more initiatives on the horizon – thanks to the City of Gold Coast’s decision to allocate $38 million over three years to protect and enhance our natural areas, under the Our Natural City Strategy – it’s likely that more nature-based recreation opportunities will arise for residents and visitors who are keen to enjoy nature in a safe and respectful way.

“The continuing financial support and provision of an encouraging Council has been essential,” Alex says. “Volunteers working to improve the city’s environment need a welcoming group which encourages return visits and ongoing participation. The strong sense of community is equally as important for volunteers as the purpose of environmental outcomes.”

To find out how you can volunteer with an environmental program, head to www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au

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