AFTER more than three decades volunteering for Landcare, Stawell's John Pye can't even guess how many trees he has planted over the years.
Mr Pye was recognised for his dedication to the organisation at the 2019 Victorian Landcare awards earlier this month.
He won the Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award and will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Landcare Awards in 2020.
Mr Pye said he joined Landcare 36 years ago, because he was an "environmentalist at heart".
Over the years he has worked predominately with the Stawell Urban Landcare Group and he was also manager of Project Platypus Landcare Network for a number of years.
Project Platypus supports 11 Landcare groups in the Wimmera.
Between May 2017 and November 2018, Mr Pye volunteered for more than 50 hours a week.
"I enjoy Landcare because I want to make a difference," he said.
"However, it's pretty frustrating when you are planting 10 trees and someone else is pulling out 100."
Mr Pye said he had no idea how many trees he had planted over the years.
"Most years I go to the Project Platypus plantout, so I would imagine it would be quite a lot," he said.
Since 1994, Project Platypus has planted 1.1 million trees, treated 20,000 hectares for invasive plants and animals, and protected 1200 hectares of remnant vegetation.
Mr Pye was recognised with the state award for his commitment to Landcare in the region.
He has also help secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding for Project Platypus over the years, putting the organisation in a secure financial position.
"It was nice to be recognised with the award, but it was a bit of a surprise," Mr Pye said.
"While I got the award, there are a lot of other people involved in the things I was doing.
"I might get the accolade, but there is a whole group of people behind me who contributed."
Mr Pye said it was great to see Landcare being recognised.
He encouraged more people to join their local Landcare group.
"It's like any group activity - you get to meet a different range of people, have new experiences and learn new things," he said.
"It's all part of volunteering and the benefits that come with volunteering."
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