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Established in 1995 to recognise extraordinary individuals or organisations that have made, or are making a significant contribution to improving our environment on a global level.

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Environmental action does not happen in a vacuum. It emerges as a result of people with vision and innovative thought. It requires long-term commitment. It needs people who are relentless in the pursuit of their goals, never allowing obstacles to dissuade them. It requires leadership to inspire others to see the possibilities and join to work towards a common goal.

The Banksia Environmental Foundation Board of Directors work tirelessly identifying the potential recipient of this prestigious award. Candidates are sought from around the world in all the various disciplines associated with the environment. A short list is compiled and each candidate is judged on how they have made an outstanding, long lasting and broad ranging contribution to sustainable development on an international level.

Consideration is given to the various challenges they face and how they have dealt with them. Most importantly they are evaluated on their ability to engage others, create awareness, form partnerships, protect our environment and promote sustainable development.

They must also demonstrate commitment to environmental excellence and sustainability, be an inspiration for others and provide an example which will be or has been of international significance.

2014 International Award Winner

Sean Willmore

This is only the second time in Banksia's 26 year history that The Foundation have recognised an Australian with this international accolade.

Current Positions

  • President of the International Ranger Federation (IRF)
  • Founder and Managing Director Founder and Managing Director, The Thin Green Line Foundation
Sean Willmore

Sean's determination has meant despite economic, political and geographical boundaries he has leapt unthinkable hurdles and connected the unlikeliest of organisations, NGOs, corporates, governments and grass root supporters to tackle this issue at its coal face and support park rangers and their families, working on the dangerously thin green line.
The Banksia Board would like to congratulate Sean Willmore, and while we recognise the amazing work of IRF and The Thin Green Line Foundation we understand there is much more to still be done. We encourage everyone to be inspired by and support Sean in his quest to 'Protect Nature's Protectors'.

The International Ranger Federation is an alliance of 64 associations on six continents. The IRF's charity arm, The Thin Green Line Foundation, is the world's only NGO solely dedicated to protecting endangered species and threatened ecosystems by supporting park rangers and the widows and orphans of rangers killed in the line of duty. In the past 10 years it is estimated that over 1,000 rangers have been killed in the line of duty, 75% of them by commercial poachers and armed militia groups.

Sean doesn't just talk the talk; he really does walk the walk.

He has worked with rangers and partner organisations on the frontline of conservation in over 50 countries worldwide. From working in war zones in the Congo to Colombia he has himself has faced the dangerous reality many rangers face every day. Sean once had to pretend to be a priest to avoid a poaching militia pulling the trigger on an AK47 that was pointed at his head.

Many die for the cause Willmore says, 'It's the rangers that are out there every single day, that sacrifice so much, who hardly see their families, who risk their lives, and sometimes lose their lives- they are the true heroes. My role is perhaps simply as a conduit to try and get them and their families and communities the support and respect they deserve'.

After initially selling his car and re-mortgaging his house in 2004 Sean travelled for 12 months around the world to make a film, the Thin Green Line, about his inspiring colleagues. Three years later, on the simultaneous release of the film in 35 countries and 328 locations, he started the foundation of the same name to support rangers and their families.

His supporters refer to him as a social entrepreneur for rangers and frontline conservation. A more modest Sean says, 'I'm just doing what I can for rangers and conservation, that needs doing – desperately. There's an amazing group of people behind me, and others that work behind the scenes to support these heroes of conservation'.

Sean together with The Thin Green Line team, partners and supporters has to date supported over 100 widows of rangers with new farmlets, business set ups, school fees and with that 400+ children, equipped and trained hundreds of rangers via collaborative partnerships, helped to rebuild rangers houses burnt down by poachers, provide first aid training and equipment, invested in fresh water purification and TTGLF has given emergency aid in times of war and conflict. TTGLF has protected over 2500 rangers.

Sean Willmore & Hilary Clinton

Sean has garnered the support and attention of worldwide figures including Dr Jane Goodall, The Duke of Cambridge – Prince William, and Bill and Hilary Clinton. At home in Australia, he is supported by renowned writers, artists and musicians.

Sean is the recipient of numerous awards including being nominated for Australian of The Year for six years running. He is also the Recipient of The Royal Humane Society Bravery Medal for a rescue attempt in his time as a ranger.

Sean has recently returned from the Clinton Global Initiative in New York where he was able to highlight the work of rangers and the Thin Green Line Foundation and International Ranger Federation by speaking directly with Hilary and Chelsea Clinton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting and Richard Branson.

Sean pitched a project to train and equip 400 plus rangers in 9 African range states, and established 20 indigenous African trainers who would act as ongoing points of contact and continue to support their fellow colleagues. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation announced, 'we are very interested in supporting this project and will be making a decision and announcement on the coming months'.

In launching the commitment Hilary Clinton said '....improving the effectiveness of antipoaching efforts. This includes supporting Park Rangers and guards through equipment, training...These rangers are so brave and over the years hundreds of them have been murdered by the poachers leaving their widows and orphans. It's a dangerous occupation'.

Sean believes the world's problems, especially from a humanitarian and environmental standpoint, can be very overwhelming. So his simple question of myself and others is: 'Don't be overwhelmed - none of us can do it all – but what's your piece of the puzzle that needs doing?'

The Banksia International Awards is the highest accolade Australia confers for environmental achievement internationally .

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 17:42