Samantha Einam and Reece Einam.

A few weeks after taking ownership of their sprawling 70-acre property at Purga, the Einam family were exploring their new home when they spotted a koala staring down at them from high up in a tree.

They nicknamed him Albert, and the discovery of their furry neighbour inspired the Einams to completely rethink what they wanted to achieve with their rural property.

Since December 2016, the Einams have spent nearly every free moment transforming the neglected cattle property into an ideal nature habitat for native flora and fauna.

Though the project is still in its infancy, the Einams have already planted 500 native trees, worked hard to manage invasive weeds and pests, achieved improvements in soil health and developed off-stream watering points and a mini-wetland ecosystem.

Most importantly however, and in tribute to Albert, restoring the local koala populations has been a key focus.

Two-hundred-and-fifty koala-friendly shrubs have been planted, koala-friendly fencing has been installed and the Einams have signed a Koala Conservation Agreement with Ipswich City Council.

Eighteen months on, the Einam family’s hard work has been rewarded after they were named a finalist for the 2018 Healthy Land and Water Awards.

Now in their 18th year, the annual Healthy Land and Water Awards recognise and celebrate the people and groups working to improve and protect south-east Queensland’s environment.

Samantha Einam said she was humbled to be named a finalist for the 2018 Awards.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone into our project and we’ve encountered lots of challenges along the way, so to gain a bit of recognition makes the tougher times worth it,” she said.

“For us, our only motivation is making sure there is a future and a safe place for the koalas and other native species, especially as development increases the pressure on our environment.”

Alongside the Einams, three other environment champions from Ipswich have been recognised as part of the 2018 awards:

  • Luise Manning, of Springfield Lakes, is a Volunteer of the Year Award finalist for her efforts to establish Springfield Lakes Nature Care in 2017. Ms Manning is the driving force behind the group’s projects to clean-up Spring Lake and eradicate pest species from the local environment.
  • Seqwater, based in Ipswich, is a finalist for the Sustainable Water Management Award for establishing the Seqwater Source Protection Partnership, a collaboration between landcare groups and landholders working to improve water quality on private agriculture property in South East Queensland.
  • Springfield Lakes Nature Care is an Environmental Guardians Award finalist in recognition of the group’s project to minimise the impact of pest species on the local environment, and its ongoing efforts to encourage community involvement in tackling environmental issues.

The winners will be announced at the 2018 Healthy Land and Water Awards Gala Dinner in Brisbane on Friday, 27 July.

For the complete list of finalists and details on their projects visit www.hlw.org.au/awards/finalists

It is heart-warming to witness the passion in the community for our environment and the selfless dedication so many people have for protecting our remarkable part of the world.

Given there is so much focus on the issues facing our environment, it is important we celebrate the people helping to make south-east Queensland a greener, cleaner and healthier place to live so they can inspire more people to take action.

Julie McLellan

CEO Healthy Land and Water

Not all heroes wear capes