Martin Copley, 1940 - 2014

Martin Copley, 1940 - 2014

It is with great sadness that we report that Martin Copley, our Founder and Chairman for nearly 15 years, passed away in Perth after a short illness on 30 July.

AWC Founder Martin CopleyMartin’s quest to save Australia’s threatened wildlife began in the early 1990’s when he purchased a block of land which became AWC’s first sanctuary - Karakamia.  After building one of Australia’s first fox and cat-free fences around Karakamia, Martin successfully reintroduced several threatened mammals including Woylies and Tammar Wallabies.   Inspired by the success at Karakamia, Martin funded the acquisition of a further four sanctuaries - Paruna, Mt Gibson, Faure Island and the 312,000 hectare Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary in the Kimberley.

By the turn of the century, Martin’s vision had extended to the establishment of a national, non-profit organisation that could help Martin Release BHW On Faure Island 04 Croppedlead the way in reversing Australia’s extinction crisis.  To this end, Martin launched Australian Wildlife Conservancy in 2001.  AWC is now the largest owner and manager of land for conservation in Australia, protecting endangered wildlife across 3 million hectares in places like the Top End, Cape York, central Australia and the south-west.  Under Martin’s leadership, AWC sanctuaries grew to protect over 80% of Australia’s native bird species and 67% of our native mammal species including some of the largest remaining populations of species like the Numbat and the Bilby. AWC is now supported by thousands of people around Australia who share Martin’s passion for our native wildlife and his determination to prevent further extinctions. 

IBanksia Awards 029n 2010, Martin was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to conservation and the environment.  Few, if any, Australians have done more to protect Australia’s wildlife.

Earlier this year, Martin’s daughter – Sophie Chamberlain – joined the Board of AWC.  All of us at AWC are committed to honouring Martin’s work, and building on his remarkable legacy, by continuing to deliver effective conservation for Australia’s endangered wildlife.