Heather Beswick is a local woman who is making a difference in our region by dedicating her free time to volunteering in the name of biodiversity conservation.
For the last 25 years, Heather and her husband Steve have called regional Western Australia home, from Broome to Kalgoorlie and everywhere in between. There was a charm about the Midwest and its diversity that captivated Heather and sparked the beginning of a life-long love affair.
“The Midwest is an amazing area of great diversity ranging from beautiful beaches, incredible gorge country and breakaway ranges to outback areas where the night skies are filled with a million stars and you feel like you are the only person in the world,” said Mrs Beswick.
“We have the Abrolhos Islands, Coal-seam, Kalbarri, Exmouth, Coral Bay and all the amazing outback country with ancient geology and night skies full of wonder all just up the road so to speak! You can always find your own space and be surrounded by nature, peace and tranquillity.”
Heather has spent her whole life volunteering with animals and conservation and feels that it allows her to contribute to caring for the natural world. She says her passion started with her father who instilled in her from a young age, the importance of protecting the natural environment.
A few years ago, Heather and Steve began organising and hosting clean up days at Rum Jungle near their home in Drummond Cove. The area was once a dumping ground for all kinds of rubbish and large debris, however since initiating clean-up projects in partnership with the City of Greater Geraldton, Heather has been able to also partner with Keep Australia Beautiful to help the bushland return to its natural state. After significant success with the clean-up effort in the area, the City of Greater Geraldton has arranged for 400 native seedlings to be planted. This revegetation will initiate new growth and bring vibrancy back to this once decaying site.
“Working with the local government saw several clean ups run at Rum Jungle, resulting in the area becoming considerably healthier, devoid of rubbish and invasive weeds – especially the introduced Box Thorn!” said Heather.
“The local community involvement has been amazing in our clean ups – the public roll up their sleeves up and work tirelessly to make a difference.”
Heather also invests a lot of time in bird photography, with her favourite bird being the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo. These birds are listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act 1999. Recent funding has allowed NACC NRM to work with Birdlife to initiate projects which will locate populations and provide artificial nesting hollows for breeding – a undertaking that Heather is extremely passionate about.
“We are privileged in the Midwest to be home to the most northern population of Carnaby’s cockatoo in the State and with ongoing support and amazing people working hard to ensure their future, they will go on to win the fight and grace our skies again in huge numbers,” said Mrs Beswick, who has been a Birdlife member since relocating from Broome to Geraldton three years ago.
While living around the state, Heather has volunteered at AQWA in Perth, at the Broome Bird Observatory, for Great Cocky Counts, turtle monitoring, and with the Chapman River Friends in Geraldton. In addition, Heather has travelled overseas to volunteer in Thailand where she worked with the Asia elephant, and Africa where she helped to rehabilitate cheetahs!
And Heather says there’s more to come! She has dreams of projects focusing on mass tree planting and revegetation to create strong and diverse ecosystems, restoring the balance to areas previously lacking in biodiversity.
“It would be huge to provide a future for endangered species like the Carnaby’s Cockatoo and so many others as well as providing amazing habitats from micro level to canopy and everything in between,” said Heather, who wants to share a message about being respectful of the natural environment that we are so privileged to part of. She says that volunteering around the world has taught her that one person can have an impact .
“Everything is interconnected and everything we do has an effect on that precious balance. We can all do positive things in our everyday lives whether it’s at home, when we are travelling or at work,” said Heather.
“I feel extremely privileged to have been able to be involved in all these volunteer programs and I have met along the way dedicated, passionate, enthusiastic human beings who work tirelessly to achieve great things for our planet, starting in their own back yard.”