South Australia’s environment champions have been honoured – including the winner of our Pelzer Prize, James Smith – at the 2023 SA Environment Awards last night. Learn more about the winners.

Minister for Climate, Environment and Water, Dr Susan Close with the 2023 Pelzer Prize winner James Smith

The annual awards, held last night on World Environment Day, celebrate South Australians who give their time, expertise and passion to help preserve and sustain the state’s precious natural environment.

The 2023 SA Environment Awards were presented by Conservation SA in partnership with us, the SA Department for Environment and Water and the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute. Sponsored by Adelaide Cemeteries.

Conservation SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins said that the SA Environment Awards are a fantastic opportunity to not only showcase the incredible work of individuals and collectives who are passionate about the environment, but also to celebrate and thank them for their valuable contribution.

The awards are presented in 6 categories with an additional group of extraordinary South Australians inducted into the SA Environment Hall of Fame with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

While the awards have been running since 1998, it’s the third year Green Adelaide’s Pelzer Prize has been awarded. The award is named in honour of Adelaide’s first city gardener – August Wilhelm Pelzer – who played an enormous role in transforming the city landscape.

He’s the forgotten German immigrant who transformed Adelaide’s Park Lands a century ago and who has inspired Green Adelaide's environmental prize. If you look hard, you will find his name on a small plaque on North Terrace. August Wilhelm Pelzer is Adelaide’s most influential city gardener who loved these tough, shady giants elm and plane trees. He planted truckloads of them.

The Pelzer Prize honours the significant environmental efforts made by individuals that drive a cooler, greener and wilder metropolitan Adelaide. The 2022 winner was Sophie Thomson, and the inaugural 2021 winner was Jill Woodlands. The winner of the award receives our custom Green Adelaide trophy, crafted by Rob Morrison OAM and $5000.

Green Adelaide Board Presiding Member Professor Chris Daniels said that it’s an honour to celebrate our local environmental heroes and their contributions to creating a cooler, greener and wilder South Australia.

"We, at Green Adelaide, are thrilled to sponsor the SA Environment Awards and celebrate South Australia’s environmental champions who work tirelessly to connect people with nature through their different efforts protecting the environment."

"James Smith deserves the 2023 Pelzer Prize for his tireless advocacy for wildlife and their habitat, and his role educating and connecting the community with nature over several decades, it is truly admirable," Professor Daniels said.

"His passion for nature perfectly reflects the essence of the Pelzer Prize."

2023 SA Environment Award Pelzer Prize commendations + winner (with Green Adelaide's Professor Chris Daniels in the back-middle)

SA Environment Award winners:

  • Jill Hudson Award for Environmental Protection – Professor Sarah Wheeler
  • Green Adelaide’s Pelzer Prize – James Smith
  • Innovation Award – Dr Mary Retallack
  • Leif Justham Young Achiever Award – Rhys Abbott
  • Working Together Award – Kangaroo Island Feral Pig Eradication Scheme
  • Conservation Science Prize – Dr Anthony Cheshire

Each year the SA Environment Awards honour a group of extraordinary South Australians with a Lifetime Achievement Award and induction to the SA Environment Hall of Fame.

Conservation SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins added that we activists and conservationists are standing on the shoulders of giants who forged a path for us. Our Lifetime Achiever Award recipients are pioneers, creating the organisations, concepts and approaches we take for granted today.

"These inspiring leaders join the SA Environment Hall of Fame, a legendary group of environment champions who have spent their lives working towards a sustainable future for our environment," Mr Wilkins said.

Lifetime Achiever Award recipients:

  • Neville Bonney
  • Pam Catcheside
  • Maureen Christie
  • Jeffrey Newchurch
  • Enid Robertson (awarded posthumously)

SA Department for Environment and Water Executive Director Cate Hart said that each of the finalists and winners should be exceptionally proud of their achievements.

"Through their work they have each contributed towards South Australia having a greener and healthier environment that we can all enjoy."

The 2024 SA Environment Awards nominations are expected to open in early 2024, with the event planned to be held on World Environment Day in 2024 (i.e. 5 June 2024).

For more information about the awards visit the SA Environment Awards website.

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