In conservation, there are individuals whose passion and dedication leave a lasting mark. 

Sally Shaw’s contribution to the protection and restoration of Mount Sandy in the Coorong Lakes region, in honour of her late father, John Rymer, is a testament to the transformative power of commitment and love for the natural world.

Sally Shares Her Story

When the opportunity arose for Sally to contribute to Wilderlands on behalf of John, she explained “My father would be very proud to see the work that his inheritance has enabled to happen”.

Learn more about Sallys’ passion for protecting nature and discover the story of John Rymer below.

John Rymer fishing in the English countryside

Meet John Rymer

John was an English farmer with a post-World War II agriculture degree from the University of Cambridge. Brought up in York, John developed a deep love for the environment as he spent much of his childhood in the countryside. His attitude towards farming was unusually progressive. He understood the value of biodiversity, especially the essential role of trees. John planted up to 10,000 trees on his properties, which today have created a rich habitat for both fauna and flora in the area.

I was just in awe that he was so knowledgeable of what was going on around him.

Sally Shaw

Sally recalled her childhood, speaking passionately about her father’s influence on her deep connection with nature. He would take the family on long walks in the bush while sharing knowledge about the local wildlife. John’s charming character, coupled with his immense knowledge and innovative farming practices, created a lasting impression on Sally’s formative and later years.

Sally Shaw looking back on her childhood photographs

Discovering a Love for Nature

Embracing her father’s legacy, and following several years of study, Sally now describes herself as an eco-theologian, combining her faith with her love for nature. She views the intricate interconnectedness of all living beings as a profound expression of God’s creation. Through her advocacy, Sally supports the aims of Wilderlands of restoring nature to its native state and protecting the delicate balance of our planet’s ecosystems. Today, Sally shares her passion for the care of God’s creation with Christians and non-Christians.

When you fall in love with something you want to care for it.

Sally Shaw

Wilderlands’s mission of bringing people together to care for the planet resonated deeply with Sally’s belief in the power of collective action. She recognises the significance of reconnecting city-siders with nature and with the First Nations people, fostering a sense of appreciation and respect for the environment.

Sally’s commitment extends beyond her involvement with Wilderlands. In her spare time, she takes part in revegetation projects and the protection of vulnerable bird species such as the Hooded Plover. Her efforts reflect the call God gave her, a call all people, whether Christian or not, should aspire to.

Sally Shaw and Wilderlands Lead Ecologist Deanna Marshall during their trip to the Coorong Lakes project

A Connection to the Coorong 

Her relationship with the ​​Ngarrindjeri community began through teaching drama at the school in Raukkan, “teaching was an introduction to understanding, meeting and learning about the Ngarrindjeri people”. During her time there, she formed meaningful relationships with Clyde and Rose Rigney, elders within the community.

Hearing their stories, with some of the other people from the Ngarrindjeri community was such an eye-opener… particularly hearing what they have been through.

Sally Shaw

Sally has also mobilised many friends of A Rocha SA, a Christian conservation organisation, to work with the Raukkan conservation team to do re-vegetation work near the Coorong Lakes project. Many of these volunteers like Sally, have found the experience transformative. They’ve valued the opportunity to work alongside members of the Ngarrindjeri community.

Deanna Marshall leading the tour of the Coorong Lakes with Sally Shaw

Sally and Doug had the opportunity to visit the Coorong Lakes with some of the Wilderlands’ ecologists, where they witnessed the fragility and wonder of the region’s delicate ecosystem. Walking through the area with lead ecologist Deanna Marshall, she and Doug, her husband, felt privileged to explore this realm of breathtaking biodiversity.

The most exciting thing to see is for the land to become alive again and be beautiful.

Sally Shaw

The experience awakened a sense of urgency within Sally—a realisation that many unprotected lands have lost their biodiversity. This realisation fuelled her determination to protect and regenerate vulnerable areas, ensuring that future generations – including her own three adult children – can experience their beauty and wider significance.

Why Wilderlands

Join Sally and Wilderlands in their mission to safeguard the planet, one square metre at a time. Together, we can create a legacy of conservation that will protect biodiversity for future generations, ensuring a flourishing world abundant with life’s wonders.

Learn more about how Wilderlands works below.