Fighting to protect environment

IF there is a fight to protect Tweed's natural environment, Paul “Hop.e” Hopkins will most likely be involved.

In the mid-1970s Mr Hopkins joined the Tweed Valley Conservation Trust (TVCT), when legendary “man of the trees”, Brice Chick was in charge.

Over time the organisation has morphed into the Caldera Environment Centre (CEC) and Mr Hopkins is the


One of Mr Hopkins' early battles was against a development on Mount Nullum, when the TVCT decided to take the fight to the street.

The CEC keeps its eye on environmental and planning issues, but Mr

Hopkins said things had “dramatically changed” since “part 3a” was introduced into the State's planning act.

“We are trying to get part 3a wound back, and it looks like the Libs will go along with that idea,” he said.

The CEC wants the Border Ranges recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve this year, an effort at being proactive in protecting Tweed's environment.

“We don't want to be seen as just being reactive,” Mr Hopkins said.

He said the environmental issues in the Tweed Shire hadn't changed that much since he became involved, with climate change and protecting biodiversity being the most important issues.

Mr Hopkins chuckled when asked how much difference the environmental groups he has been a part of had made.

“I think things would be a lot worse if we weren't here.”

The Tweed's world heritage-listed

forests are taken for granted, according to Mr Hopkins.

“We have got this World Heritage forest and I don't think it is valued enough by the average resident.

“It is quite an honour (to have world renowned forests) and I think Tweed Council tends to take it for granted.”

Mr Hopkins believes there is a false link made between development and prosperity and hopes this century will herald change, where renewable and sustainable development will be pioneered.

“I think we need a new paradigm.”

The Caldera Environment Centre hosts a community World Environment Day celebration each year in Murwillumbah.

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