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Australian Conservation Foundation

The original Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), established in 1965 in Canberra, was an organisation promoting scientific management of the natural environment. It was driven by the vision of its honorary secretary, Francis Ratcliffe, a retired CSIRO scientist and author of Flying fox and drifting sand. When it moved to Melbourne in 1969 (after a brief spell in Sydney), its first premises were in Clunies Ross House, Parkville, consistent with its scientific self-image. But as the organisation grew, its scientific research arm became increasingly overwhelmed by urgent political lobbying work. In 1973 the national campaign to save Lake Pedder in Tasmania brought the ACF to a crisis. A 'coup' was staged at the annual general meeting under the astonished eye of Prince Philip, the ACF's first president. Most of the Executive resigned and were replaced by younger 'environmentalists'. Since the successful 'No Dams' campaign which stopped the Franklin River from being dammed by the Tasmanian Hydro-Electricity Commission in 1983, the number and complexity of national environmental disputes have increased dramatically. The ACF grew significantly in the 1980s after the Franklin campaign, with emerging concerns for forests and marine resources. Since 1969 the ACF remained committed to its Melbourne headquarters, moving from Parkville to Hawthorn and finally to its own building in Fitzroy to accommodate its growing staff and volunteer supporters.

Libby Robin