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Greening Australia Greening Australia's chief Brendan Foran says relationships are at the heart of the organisation's culture. Picture: Greening Australia.

Growing up: Inside Greening Australia's radical cultural transformation

By Matthew Schulz, journalist, Our Community

One of the most compelling sessions at the recent Community Directors Conference was a no-holds-barred Greening Australia presentation charting the organisation's turbulent move from a federated structure to a new, independent, single governance structure.

The tough self-assessment by CEO Brendan Foran painted a picture of an organisation that reinvented itself over a decade, going from a bloated, self-interested and often dysfunctional not-for-profit to one with a powerful environmental agenda to save the world.

Mr Foran, flanked by chair Gordon Davis, left many delegates dizzy with his disclosure of the organisation's story and achievements, in a presentation aptly titled "Warts and all: Transforming a board and an organisation".

Mr Foran, flanked by chair Gordon Davis, left many delegates dizzy with his disclosure of the organisation's story and achievements, in a presentation aptly titled "Warts and all: Transforming a board and an organisation".

  • plant 500 million plants
  • restore 200,000ha of habitat
  • conserve 20 threatened species
  • restore 3000 ha of rivers and wetlands
  • involve 4000 landholders
  • sequester 1 million tonnes of carbon

These will be delivered through five huge programs spanning every state and territory, namely:

  • Reef Aid - to boost water quality on the Great Barrier Reef by restoring rivers and wetlands flowing onto it
  • Great Southern Landscapes - to restore habitat for Australia's most threatened wildlife with large-scale revegetation and carbon sinks
  • Tasmania Island Ark - to save some of Australia's rarest animals
  • Nature in Cities - to boost the number of trees, parks, waterways, backyards and open spaces
  • Thriving on Country - focused on jobs and opportunities for Indigenous Australians to care for their country

It's an incredibly ambitious agenda, but Mr Foran said Greening Australia very nearly didn't get the chance to tackle the work, having almost "pushed itself off a cliff" by losing its focus on the reason for its existence.

"There was a time … that we had forgotten what really mattered and we were desperately close to disappearing."

Members exclusive: Click here to read an extended version of this report (ICDA member access needed)

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Taken from ICDA's member magazine
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