Two renowned local identities – artist Leon Pericles and author Jane Scott – will use their high profile to campaign for the environment as ambassadors for Nature Conservation Margaret River Region (NCMRR).

The region’s peak not-for-profit conservation group has launched a new ambassador program, with Ms Scott and Mr Pericles signing on to appear at local workshops and community volunteer days, lend their voices to calls for more urgent environmental action, and be advocates for awareness and participation in protecting our precious bushland and biodiversity.

NCMRR chair Ann Ward said the group was “absolutely thrilled to welcome these two ambassadors to our family”. “Both Jane Scott and Leon Pericles are household names who are passionate about our environment and the region’s natural wonders. And we hope their involvement will help us spread the word about how important it is to care for country,” she said.

The new ambassador program was unveiled at the Margaret River District Club last night October 4th in the first of NCMRR’s new Sundowner Series. A series of informal evenings in the next 12 months, each will look at a particular environmental issue with key speakers and an audience Q&A, responding to the conservation-focused community who are custodians and advocates for the nature of our region.

Mr Pericles said he was excited to join NCMRR. He is one of the Margaret River region’s most famous artists and a prolific printmaker, painter and sculptor whose celebrated career has spanned decades. He developed a love of the Australian environment growing up in outback WA, felt through his art that affectionately depicts our great outdoors. As a long-term Margaret River resident, he’s been an enthusiastic supporter of NCMRR’s Arum Lily Blitz, helping to control the invasive weeds on his rural property.

“I have a love of nature and everything about it,” Mr Pericles said. “Even as a young child I had a garden of plants in tins that I carried from one place to the next. I love anything that grows, and the insects and animals that come with it. But the situation we’re in now is really dire. The environment is needing our help, desperately, because we have gone too far. We need to shoulder a lot more. We need to get stuck in. And if we’re all doing it together, nothing is impossible. An organisation like Nature Conservation is big enough and strong enough to do some really big and really powerful work, both politically and on the ground. The massive number of volunteers who are out there reflect the anxiety that the community has got for our grandchildren. The situation might get worse before it gets better but I believe we can win. It’ll be a massive achievement in the end, and the Margaret River region could be the area that’s held up around the world as a success story.”

Ms Scott is founder of Cape-to-Cape Publications and author of the official Cape to Cape Track guidebook and many books on native flora, who contributes countless volunteer hours to NCMRR and the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track.

“Having lived in Margaret River for around 40 years, I’ve seen a huge amount of change here, with a lot of growth and development,” Ms Scott said. “I’ve always been amazed at the huge diversity – especially in the flora – of this small South-West Capes area of WA, how special it is, and how incredibly lucky we are to live here. I really notice now, as more and more people come to live here, a growing appreciation of our natural environment. But also the urgent need to protect it. Nature Conservation is an ideal organisation to tap into this awareness and enthusiasm, and to engage people’s energy in helping care for our environment, so I’m very keen to applaud and promote its excellent work.”

NCMRR general manager Drew McKenzie said he hopes the ambassador program will broaden the reach of the group.  “There is a groundswell of energy and support within the community towards caring for our natural areas. It is heartening to have icons like Jane and Leon come on board in this capacity as yet another reflection of locals giving time and energy back to this unique landscape that we are fortunate enough to call home.”