Koalas’ buddy wins honour

REWARD FOR PASSION: Trees officer Mark Wilson has won the Ziggy Megne Volunteer for the Environment Award.
REWARD FOR PASSION: Trees officer Mark Wilson has won the Ziggy Megne Volunteer for the Environment Award. Contributed

MARK Wilson is a loyal friend to many koalas on the Northern Rivers.

And, after more than 23 years of service with Friends of the Koala Inc, he has been recognised for his hard work in the Nature and Conservation Council of NSW's 2013 Environment Awards.

The Ziggy Megne Volunteer for the Environment Award for an "outstanding and inspiring volunteer" was awarded to Mr Wilson after he was nominated by Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass for his "tremendous commitment" to the organisation.

"I nominated Mark because he's done such a fantastic job over more than 20 years with Friends of the Koala," Mrs Vass said.

"He has almost single handedly distributed 117,000 koala food trees across the Northern Rivers and he helps landholders as well as kids learn about protecting koala habitat."

Mr Wilson is known for establishing and maintaining the Friends of the Koala nursery in the past 23 years. He provides tree planting advice, writes letters of support for grant applications, visits schools and runs tree planting days.

Mr Wilson, who is the trees officer at Friends of the Koala, said he was surprised to hear he had won the award.

"The award is about recognition for a contribution, but you don't join anything as a volunteer to get recognition," Mr Wilson said.

"You do it because you have a passion for what you're doing and I do a lot of work with school kids because I have a passion for teaching the next generation about how to look after the environment."

Mr Wilson said he had enjoyed being able to see the way tree planting had affected koala habitat in the region. "I often used to drive around the area with my children and say 'we planted those trees'," he said.



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