A staunch defender of the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum, Steve Meacher won a landmark court case this year to protect their habitat. He is also a winner of the 2020 Rawlinson Award for conservation.

Photo: Annette Ruzicka/MAPgroup

“Leadbeater’s Possums live in the forests within view of where I live in Toolangi.

"They are the seventh Australian mammal most at risk of extinction, so there is a strong motivation to do all I can to support their survival,” says Steve Meacher from his home among the trees. 

Photo: David Watts/AUSCAPE

His group, the Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, won a David v Goliath case against the state government logging agency VicForests in the Federal Court in May 2020, challenging the logging industry’s exemption from having to comply with national environment laws.

The Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, with Environmental Justice Australia, successfully argued VicForests’ logging in 66 areas of habitat critical to the possum and the greater glider broke federal law.

Steve, a retired teacher, has worked tirelessly for 16 years to educate Victorians about Leadbeater’s Possum — the state’s faunal emblem — and convince politicians to protect its shrinking habitat from state-sponsored logging.

Photo: Annette Ruzicka/MAPgroup

“Humanity exists within nature. If we continue to destroy the biosphere, we are destroying our own support systems,” he says.

“The environmental laws have been inadequate largely because government policy tends to favour the logging industry.

"That’s why we took our fight to a new level by launching a case in the Federal Court of Australia. I want the government to take its moral responsibility for the environment seriously.”

Steve Meacher’s determination to teach Victorians about the precious little Leadbeater’s Possum and to protect its habitat from logging is an inspiration.

Established in 1992, the Rawlinson Award is given annually in memory of ACF Councillor Peter Rawlinson — a zoologist, lecturer in biological science and environmental campaigner. The Award celebrates individuals and groups who have made an outstanding voluntary contribution to protecting the environment in Australia.

Header photo: Dan Harley


Josh Meadows

Media Adviser at the Australian Conservation Foundation