First up, I have to admit that I had a bit of a chuckle with a colleague the other day – apparently my handing over editorial responsibilities for the NGT newsletter last month may have given some people (yep, those who didn’t read the full story!) the false impression that I might be moving on… so remember, always click on the link in the email and you’ll get all the details!
While I’m not moving on (and after all, how could I? – I really love what we do at NGT and we’re getting some great things done!), in the next couple of weeks I am planning on starting a few months off. This will give me a chance to tackle a few other things that are also important to me (that I have put on long-term hold) and – most importantly – spend a bit of undistracted time with my family. Having started NGT from scratch, this little NGO has pretty much occupied most of my waking hours now for the past 7 years – something that I am sure anyone involved in running their own small business will be able to relate to. This is just the reality of what it takes to get things off the ground, and being a charitable NGO also brings with it an additional dimensions (responsibilities and challenges, but also incredible opportunities to do good things) that many regular businesses don’t necessarily have to contend with.
So although it has taken 7 years to get to this point, which is a while (but in hindsight has flown by), I am now confident that the organisation has reached a stage where I can step away for a few months and leave overseeing our daily operations in the capable hands of our team of five Senior Ecologists until I get back (Lachie, Nick, Bryan, Ben and Greg). Our Mount Gambier based Senior Ecologist, Bryan Haywood (), has kindly agreed to be our first point of central contact in my absence, so it will be business as usual for everyone who interacts with NGT during this time.
Most importantly, the slow (and in some cases intricate) process of extracting myself from our day-to-day operations to get ready for a break, is proving to be a really valuable strategic exercise in itself. It is giving us a chance to stop and think about who is doing what and how we are doing things, and is also giving me the chance to stop doing some of the things that I probably shouldn’t be doing any more (and that have been keeping me up late at night). After all, we’re no longer a team of three operational staff – way back when we launched NGT in January 2012, it was just myself, Nick and Cath. Needless to say, things have evolved a lot since then!
That evolution has included NGT transitioning from initially being an environmental NGO purely focussed on project and service delivery, helping deliver outcomes for the environment on other people’s land, to now complementing that function by increasingly becoming an owner and manager of a wide range of amazing, strategically located restoration demonstration sites of our own (see: NGT Reserves page) in Victoria and South Australia. As we announced our sixth Reserve today at Hutt Bay, it is great to reflect on just how far we have come over the past 7 years – and we couldn’t have done it without you: our incredibly passionate and committed volunteers, staff, donors, supporters, newsletter subscribers and a wide range of partner organisations. So thank you for being part of our journey!
I’m definitely looking forward to coming back with new ideas: fresh and ready to tackle some key issues like growing the balance of the NGT Foundation (to underpin perpetual management of our permanent reserves), continuing our focus on restoring our precious wetlands, and a renewed emphasis on our threatened (but often forgotten) mainland fauna. We now have the experimental sites available to us within NGT Reserves and the chance to work with a range of partner organisations to test some very innovative and exciting ideas, which could help turn things around for our mainland ecosystems in agriculture dominated landscapes. Our goal is to test and make these ideas work, outside of fences, across all land tenures.
Finally, I can assure you that more great NGT news is just around the corner, so I’ll be in touch again soon enough!
Until then, keep up the great work and thanks for your ongoing support of Nature Glenelg Trust.
Cheers – Mark.