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Throwback Thursday: 1990 Prize Winner Bob Brown, Then and Now

January 2, 2014

Bob Brown was among the inaugural group of Goldman Prize winners awarded in 1990. He won the Prize for his work to protect Tasmania’s natural resources, including Australia’s last free-flowing river, the Franklin River and its watershed. To that end, he helped found the Tasmanian Wilderness Society in 1976. Brown continued to advocate for the protection of Tasmania’s natural resources for the next two decades. By 1995, he had been arrested and jailed twice for participating in peaceful protests against resource exploitation.

With the Goldman Prize award money, Brown set up Bush Heritage Australia (BHA), a conservation group that he calls “the down-under equivalent of Nature Conservancy.” Since the 1990’s, BHA has secured more than two million acres of wilderness, including the habitat of many rare and endangered species. Brown continues to be one of BHA’a main patrons. He even donated his picturesque white cottage and the 34 hectares of land attached to it (known as Oura Oura) to BHA in 2011.

From 1996 to 2012, Brown led the Australian Green Party in the national parliament in Canberra. The Greens, under Brown’s leadership, were instrumental in creating one of the world’s most significant pieces of climate change legislation, setting up a carbon trading scheme, taxing pollution and providing ten billion dollars for renewable energy.

After retiring from the Senate in 2012, Brown became the chair of Sea Shepherd Australia (SSA), and played a significant role in the successful campaign to stop what would have been the world’s largest gas factory from being built on the magnificent Kimberley Coast in northwest Australia. The campaign’s success saved Aboriginal ancestral lands, the world’s largest humpback whale nursery and, on the shoreline, the world’s largest dinosaur footprints.

In the summer of 2013, SSA blocked illegal Japanese whaling operations off the coast of Antarctica to save nearly 1,000 whales from being killed. Brown will be in Seattle, Washington in November 2014 to oppose Japanese court action against Sea Shepherd’s founder, Paul Watson.

More recently, Brown joined forces with Save the Tarkine, a small but highly respected group dedicated to saving Tasmania’s Tarkine wilderness from mining concessions and rapid development. The Tarkine includes wild and rugged coastline, habitat of the endangered Tasmanian devil, Australia’s most extensive temperate rainforest and Aboriginal stone carvings.

“It is heartbreaking to see the wealthiest country on Earth (per capita) degrading such a global heirloom, but inspiring to be working with Save the Tarkine to defend it.” Brown stated.

From 1990 to 2013, Bob Brown has been a tireless advocate for the environment, dedicating time, resources, his career and his life to the wellbeing of the planet and those who call it home.

Keep up the great work, Bob. We can’t wait to see what you’ll do next!

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