Jan Star has spent most of her lifetime as an advocate for the natural environment.
Last month that “outstanding and sustained contribution” was celebrated when Jan was inducted alongside 11 other pioneers into WA Landcare’s Hall of Fame.
Last year marked 40 years since the inception of the modern landcare movement in Western Australia.
Jan has been there from the very beginning.
She first enlisted as a member of the Serpentine Jarrahdale Land Conservation District Committee (LCDC) before becoming a founding member of Landcare SJ during the evolution of individual Landcare groups.
Shortly after, Jan threw her hat into the ring for council.
“I was the first woman that had ever been on council,” she said.
“I grew into it, and it became more and more absorbing. It’s been a marvellous avenue for me to expand my mind in parallel with my landcare interest.”
And it is her contributions to the welfare of the natural environment that she counts amongst her greatest achievements whilst on council.
Jan was instrumental in council’s decision to base its Rural Planning Strategy on land capability mapping. This was a breakthrough moment for locally-led and environmentally-conscious management of the sensitive Peel-Harvey catchment.
“It started the general thinking that there were other consideration to be taken into account,” she said.
“Something else that came from that was the recognition of the importance of road verges.”
She was also a strong advocate for landcare and the environment in the WA Local Government Association.
During the same period, Jan was a key figure in the establishment of the Serpentine-Jarrahdale Water Watchers; a local group whose monitoring program significantly altered the scientific understanding of nutrient loss from the catchment.
But perhaps her crowning glory was at the end of a 13-year campaign to have the Peel-Harvey recognised as an independent Natural Resource Management Region – the 55th NRM region in Australia.
“I was the founding chair of the Peel Harvey Catchment Council. We started with $10 in the bank, and when I left a few years ago it was well-established with five or six million dollars in equity,” she said.
Jan also instigated the Ramsar Management Plan to protect the Peel-Yalgorup’s Ramsar-listed natural heritage and was a member of the Natural Heritage Trust’s Joint Steering Committee, the Soil and Land Conservation Commission, the State Salinity Council and the State NRM Council.
Jan was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2002 for service to local government, particularly through environmental, water management and planning related matters.
After decades of service Jan retired from Landcare SJ to concentrate her efforts to protect the Northern Jarrah Forests, as chair of the Jarrahdale Forest Protectors, and in collaboration with the WA Forest Alliance.
Jan said it was “obviously an honour” to have her work recognised and to be regarded beside the other tireless advocates for the environment honoured at the Cockburn Wetlands Centre on December 8.