Conservationists celebrate

PLANTS and animals are thriving on about 1000 hectares of protected land thanks to a group of dedicated conservationists at the Caldera Environment Centre.

The centre (CEC) celebrated its 20th birthday yesterday at the World Environment Day Festival in Knox Park, Murwillumbah.

One of the founding members in 1989 and current co-ordinator Edward Hopkins, known as “Hop.E”, reflected on the CEC's achievements.

“We formed the centre to help preserve the flat-topped Mount Nullum from being developed into a health retreat,” Mr Hopkins said yesterday.

“In the past 20 years we've made lots of submissions to council and government.

“And we've managed to conserve 800 to 1000 hectares of habitat in permanent conservation in the Tweed Shire.”

The CEC now has about 100 vol- unteers committed to advocating for the Wollumbin Caldera's environmental interests.

However, Mr Hopkins said the fight is becoming harder.

“We're having more and more trouble with the State Government taking planning powers away from the local council.

“This is what we saw with the Repco Rally.”

About 500 people visited yesterday's free festival.

“The day has been a good blend of environmental messages and entertainment,” Mr Hopkins said.

“This is the third time we've done it on our own; previous to that we did it with the Murwillumbah Community Centre.”

Mr Hopkins thanked the community centre for their continued support and the Tweed Shire Council and NSW Government for funding.

Festival activities included Hoopla Circus workshops, organic food production, chemical-free bush regeneration talks and entertainment by Murray Kyle and Osmosis.

“We also made an artwork from recycled and natural materials,” Mr Hopkins said.

CEC volunteer meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month from 5.30pm at the store in Queen Street, originally in Commercial Road.

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