LANDCARE is seeking younger recruits to replenish the stocks of the organisation's ageing volunteers across Lake Macquarie.
Landcare coordinator for Lake Macquarie, Jason Harvey, said there were more than 200 Landcare groups across the city.
He said the volunteer groups "did an incredible job" clearing more than 19 hectares of weeds and replanting native species across Lake Macquarie in 2018.
“The value of the effort they contributed last year would be knocking on the door of $1 million,” Mr Harvey said.
“But most of the people currently involved are aged over 55, and we need a succession plan.
“We’re hoping this next generation – people in their 30s and 40s who care about their local environment and want to do something for their community – will start to get involved.”
Mr Harvey pointed to the many benefits that flowed from participating in an initiative such as Landcare, where people work to regenerate tracts of nature close to where they live.
“There are obvious health benefits to getting outdoors and doing something active and productive,” Mr Harvey said.
“Then there is the community aspect – getting together with people from your local neighbourhood who are like-minded, forming new friendships and building that sense of pride and belonging.
“There is also an aspect of skill development. We’ve recently had a couple of young lads put their hands up to join us for this reason.”
Father-of-two Chris Whackett got involved six years ago in the Fern Creek Gully Landcare Group, at Dudley.
The 41-year-old said he had seen throughout that period how small gains at each of the group’s monthly working bees had made a huge contribution to regenerating bush and coastal rainforest destroyed by historic mining in the area.
“For a lot of other people my age it can be difficult finding time – I have two children and a demanding job,” Mr Whackett said.
“But for me it’s important to go, even if it’s for purely selfish reasons. It’s getting outside in the bush, doing some manual work and using my body.
“It’s also about reconnecting with my community and working together for a common goal that’s external to my everyday life.”
The Fern Creek Gully Landcare group recently launched a Facebook page in a bid to attract younger volunteers. It meets on the first Saturday of the month, but meeting times vary for other groups across the city.
For more information and to get involved, go to lakemacquarielandcare.org.