Tessa Johnson-Walker (Tessa) was born in England in 1939. She emigrated to Australia with her family in the 1960s and moved to the North Coast region of NSW in the 1980s and became involved with nature conservation through the North Coast Environment Council and Clarence Valley WIRES.
Tessa and her friend David Page purchased a block of land near Dorrigo from a local sawmill in 1995. In 1998 she set up a Voluntary Conservation Agreement through the NSW Government National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) to ensure the 40 plus hectare patch of rainforest would be protected from logging into the future.
The property, named Bobo River Forest (or Bobo), contains a variety of forest types such as gully rainforest, tall open forest and cool temperate rainforest including the lowest altitude Antarctic Beech Rainforest recorded in NSW.
Bobo is home to three rare flora species including the Dorrigo Laurel, Dorrigo Waratah and Pink Cherry. Threatened fauna species such as the Glossy Black Cockatoo, Square-tailed Kite, Yellow-bellied glider, the Red-legged Pademelon and koalas are also found in the conservation area.
In a NPWS media release, when asked about the conservation agreement, Tessa said “I feel happy knowing the agreement gives permanent protection and Bobo and its inhabitants are safe from human exploitation”.
Tessa actively promoted the importance of private land conservation until she was forced to move away from the property due to her illness with Parkinson’s disease.
Tessa passed away in November 2020, however her private land conservation vision lives on as the biodiversity of Bobo River Forest continues to be protected under new owners.