About Us

The Clarence Environment Centre

The Clarence Environment Centre (CEC) works with government agencies, local council, associated groups, private landowners and you, our community, to address concerns and improve, protect and maintain the unique natural values of the beautiful Clarence Valley for future generations.

The CEC is run by a committee who meet bi-monthly to discuss the direction and actions our environmental non-profit organisation takes. The CEC’s main drivers are Pat and John Edwards who have been instrumental in fighting for the Clarence Valley environment since the early 80’s. They are joined by a passionate group of bush regeneration professionals, active members and volunteers. 

Protecting the Clarence Valley since 1989

The Clarence Environment Centre (CEC) was born of controversy in 1989 in response to a plan by the multi-national Japanese-owned wood-chipping company Harris-Daishowa to establish a pulp and paper mill on the Clarence River. Initially, the Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition was formed to increase community awareness regarding the pulp mill, but it soon became clear that a more permanent contact point was needed for the general public to manage the campaign. In March 1990 a steering committee was formed to facilitate the setting up of a shop and to apply for incorporation of the Clarence Environment Centre. 

On May 1st, the shop opened its doors in Grafton with a band of enthusiastic volunteer staff and a dedicated organising committee. Financial support for the CEC came largely from public sponsorship and donations, with events like fundraising dances, to which the Big River Bush Band and a new country rock band, Blackbutt donated their services  raising substantial sums for the cause.

In the end, our combined forces were largely instrumental in having the pulp mill proposal scrapped with the ‘submission in response to the State Development’s Pulp & Paper Industry Task Force Report’

From that point on, the Clarence Environment Centre has retained its focus of being there for those who care about promoting the natural environment. 

Through resource material, eyes on the ground and information sharing, an ongoing program of raising community awareness about vital concerns continues.

No Pulp Mill Clarence Valley 1989
No Pulp Mill Clarence Valley 1989

John & Pat Edwards - Recipients of the NSW Environment Awards 2021 - Allen Strom Hall of Fame

The Clarence Catchment Alliance are proud to share the announcement of the recipients of the
NSW Environment Awards 2021 – Allen Strom Hall of Fame – John and Pat Edwards.

For their tireless work for the Clarence Valley environment, we thank them.

Our nomination was to show our appreciation for the constant work John and Pat do for conservation, and for their huge contribution to the NO MINES Clarence Valley campaign.

The Nature Conservation Council’s Hall of Fame was established in memory of the late Allen Strom’s untiring dedication to conservation and education in NSW.

Individuals for this award have been actively involved in the conservation movement for many years, have made a constant and invaluable contribution to the environment and have displayed qualities of integrity, reliability and commitment.

We are chuffed to see John and Pat Edwards on that Wall of Fame. So richly deserved.

Facebook post 6 Nov 2021 by Clarence Catchment Alliance

Anyone in the Clarence Valley who is active in conservation knows John and Pat Edwards; their story is of constant and tireless conservation activities.

Both in their 80s, they are dynamic and fearless crusaders for conservation and the environment taking on causes via laptop, media, changes to legislation, and on the ground – with pick axe in hand. Pat and John’s work with the Clarence Environment Centre (CEC), WIRES, Land for Wildlife (LfW), North Coast Environment Council, to name a few,  has been of enormous benefit to the environmental community; human, flora and fauna. 

They both certainly epitomise the saying ‘think global act local’. With her work with WIRES Pat is recognised by the Department of Environment for her broad knowledge of Koalas in the region and has assisted in specialist research Land for Wildlife is Pat’s ‘baby’. Pat keeps all the records and writes all the reports. John does the flora reporting. Their expertise includes audits of all Wildlife Refuge properties, weed and vegetation mapping, managing volunteer bush regeneration team, and weed eradication. 

Pat and John have nominated eight plant species and one plant population to the NSW Scientific Committee, for listing as threatened and work with Save Our Species. Their knowledge and dedication has uncovered and reported illegal activities that threaten the environment and taken the offenders to task: As leaders in Friends of Shannon Creek Action Group, they exposed dodgy deals and North Coast Water were forced to rewrite its entire Environmental Impact Statement.  CEC’s forest logging audits shone a light on Forests NSW’s massive breaches of the Integrated Forests Operations Approval which led to major fines. Other logging audits saw Boral’s bid for Forest Stewardship Council accreditation thrown out. 

Other campaigns include Glenugie CSG blockade, and the illegal land clearing for blueberries at Halfway Creek. John has served on numerous Council committees including Floodplain Risk, North Coast Weeds Advisory, Biodiversity Management Plan Development, Bushfire Advisory, River Water Monitoring, Council’s Water Efficiency Team and River Monitoring Committee. 

John’s current involvement in the Clarence Catchment Alliance’ No mines Clarence Valley campaign is where he works with us to lobby changes to NSW legislation to prohibit mineral mining in our sensitive water catchment and places of high ecological and cultural significance. John’s reporting of breaches saw a mining exploration company’s activities suspended and a fine imposed. 

Over many dedicated years, John and Pat Edwards have contributed selflessly to conservation and we believe their extensive knowledge and incredible passion, together, are truly deserving of acknowledgement.

Complied by Shae Fleming – Clarence Catchment Alliance