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Darren Watson (Horizons) and Spiros Skaftouros (City of Whittlesea)

Just as the 2002 Distinguished Service Award went two recipients, the 2003 Claude Crockford Environmental Award was shared between Darren Watson (Horizons Golf Resort) and Spiros Skaftouros (City of Whittlesea).

Darren Watson
Ever since the initial development of the Horizons Golf Resort in 1990, Darren has played a key role in making sure that this par-72 championship course in NSW has operated in harmony with its unique natural surroundings.

The club’s main flow-on catchment is the protected wetlands of the Mambo Creek whose tidal flats are of the utmost importance for the spawning of the renowned Port Stephens oyster.

The course and bushland surrounds provide sanctuary habitat for a diverse range of native animals and most notably the site encompasses the home-range of a healthy breeding colony of koalas.

Australian Bird Atlas recently discovered 52 species of native bird resident at Horizons, while a frog study is currently underway which is expected to find the threatened Wallum Froglet species.

Some of the environmental management initiatives instituted at Horizons include;
•    Assessment of all chemicals, herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers used in the upkeep of the course for their environmental impact, with similar, “friendlier” alternatives used and investigated.
•    Construction of boardwalks through the natural wetlands with plans to construct more.
•    A koala colony monitoring program.
•    The introduction of an aeration “fountain” system into the main lakes.
•    Implementation of a designated ‘GreenWaste’ area for the decomposition of lawn and tree clippings and cuttings.
•    Development of its own nursery located onsite where plant species native to the area are propagated.
•    A Bush Regeneration Management Plan undertaking Bitou Bush and Lantana eradication.

Spiros Skaftouros
As construction supervisor at the City of Whittlesea’s new public golf course – due to open in 2004 - Spiros has played a major role in ensuring the protection of the site’s environmental values.

The site purchased by the Whittlesea council is typical of the remnant grassy red gum woodland ecosystem which was prominent throughout Melbourne’s northern and western basalt plains, but is now scarce due to clearing and grazing. The land parcel was dotted with ancient red gums, many more than 200 years old, which have become important habitat for a range of marsupials and avifauna.

Prior to construction, a full environmental and archaeological assessment of the site was commissioned in recognition of the importance of the land for its remnant vegetation and environmental values.

The council has also entered into a long-term arrangement with the local sewerage authority to use reclaimed effluent from the treatment plant for irrigation.

During this major project, Spiros has made a significant contribution to delivering the high environmental outcomes aspired to by;
•    Ensuring that council utilised the latest methods for the protection of significant areas. No-go zones were created to protect significant sites and remnant vegetation.
•    Providing supervision and coordination of contractors involved to ensure that environmental outcomes were adhered to. This included convincing the designers of the course to alter their plans to better protect mature red gum trees and ensuring that only indigenous plant materials were used.
•    Championing the concept of sustainable maintenance principles.