On World Environment Day (5 June), SA's environment industry gathered to celebrate the state's top environment champions including the 2024 winner of our Pelzer Prize, Dr Mark Ellis.

Pelzer Prize winners
Picture are 3 Green Adelaide Pelzer Prize winners James Smith (2023), newest winner Mark Ellis (2024) and Jill Woodlands (2021). Note: Sophie Thomson was the 2022 Pelzer Prize winner.

The annual SA Environment Awards have celebrated South Australians who give their time, expertise and passion on behalf of our precious natural environment.

Across 6 categories, this annual event celebrates and acknowledges our state's champions working in nature protection, climate action, sustainability and care for Country.

At the 5 June gala ceremony, 4 of South Australia's nature legends were honoured with a Lifetime Achiever Award. Mirning Elder Bunna Lawrie, environmental scientist Dr Bob Sharrad, natural heritage manager Fraser Vickery and groundbreaking researcher Patricia Thomas (awarded posthumously) were all inducted into SA's Environment Hall of Fame.

"We are thrilled to be able to shine a light on the lifelong work of these incredible South Australians," said Conservation Council of SA President David Bacon.

"As we look back on the impact made by our legendary environmentalists, it's inspiring to see their legacy is alive and well in the next generation of nature champions," he said.

Fossil Free University of Adelaide founder Gemma Dawe was awarded the Leif Justham Young Achiever Award, while scientists Dr Dominic McAfee and Prof Sean Connell won the Conservation Science Prize for their research, education and advocacy for SA's native oyster reefs.

Green Adelaide's prestigious Pelzer Prize was awarded to Dr Mark Ellis for his decades-long work on landscape restoration across Adelaide, while a who's-who of urban nature champions were presented with Certificates of Merit for their work caring and advocating for our city's green spaces.

Green Adelaide Board Chair Professor Chris Daniels said that Green Adelaide is proud to sponsor the SA Environment Awards again to celebrate local and humble environmentalists.

“Congratulations to all the winners and particularly to our 2024 Pelzer Prize winner, Dr Mark Ellis, who has gone above and beyond to restore landscapes and connect people with nature,” Professor Daniels said.

“Dr Ellis’ passion for the environment over decades echoes the sentiment of Adelaide’s first city gardener – August Wilhelm Pelzer, who the award is named after – and the tireless effort of individuals towards creating a cooler, greener and wilder Adelaide.”

The major accolade of the night – the Jill Hudson Award for Environmental Protection – was won by tree advocate Yuri Poetzl for his inspiring advocacy for South Australia's tree canopy and selfless support of community campaigns to protect this irreplaceable resource.

The SA Environment Awards are presented by Conservation Council SA in partnership with us at Green Adelaide, the Department for Environment and Water and the University of Adelaide Environment Institute and sponsored by Adelaide Cemeteries Authority.

Full list of winners:

Jill Hudson Award for Environmental Protection
Winner: Yuri Poetzl
Finalists: Julia Peacock, Shane Sody, SA Native Animal Rescue Inc

Green Adelaide's Pelzer Prize

Winner: Mark Ellis
Bruce Baker, Certificate of Merit for Environmental Education
Ron Bellchambers, Certificate of Merit for Community-based Restoration
Carmen Bishop, Certificate of Merit For Marine And Coastal Education
Martin F. Breed, Certificate of Merit For Urban Ecological Research
Gerry Butler, Certificate of Merit For Landcare
Katja Hogendoorn, Certificate of Merit For Plant-insect Interactions
Jake M. Robinson, Certificate of Merit For Urban Forest Research
Adrian Shackley, Certificate of Merit For Grassland Recovery
Gerd Winter & Susannah Eliott, Certificate of Merit For Innovative Science Communication

Leif Justham Young Achiever Award
Winner: Gemma Dawe
Finalists: Gerry Bain & Aussie Redden, Isabelle Onley, Kelly Salter

Conservation Science Prize

Winners: Dr Dominic McAfee & Prof Sean Connell
Finalists: Isabelle Onley, Professor Peng Bi

Innovation Award

Winner: SAGE (South Australian Grassroots Ecosystem)
Finalists: Rosina Possingham & Gerry Butler, DunnART Productions

Working Together Award

Winner: Aussie Bread Tags for Wheelchairs
Finalists: Marine Discovery Centre, South Australian Feral Deer Eradication Program

Lifetime Achiever Awards

Bunna Lawrie
Dr Bob Sharrad
Fraser Vickery
Patricia Thomas OAM (awarded posthumously)

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