Lucy Curno Wild Futures

A Journey of Restoration

Darren Kennedy was a Project Manager for Wild Futures and was part of the CVA family for nearly seven yearsIn his last week with CVA, we wanted to find out more about his rich history working with threatened species and bushfire recovery. 

Darren (right) receives grant for Pygmy Possum protection work. © Rebekha Sharkie MP.


Growing up in the heart of the Spencer Gulf in South Australia, Darren Kennedy has always had an affinity for the living world around him. Naturally, that led him to study biodiversity and conservation ecology which directed his career in the veterinary sector and then to the world of conservation, where he started with CVA seven years ago. 

Darren chose the conservation path for the future of generations to come. Now, as a dad of three, that’s more important than ever. 

Unless we look after the environment, we have no future. Climate change, habitat loss and extinctions are all real, so everything I doI do for my kids and their generation.”  

His experience in working with native species and wildlife has given Darren a wealth of advice for a different kind of future generation too – future conservationists. For him, the key was finding the area that he was particularly passionate about and dedicating himself to that. 

“If you’re fortunate enough to work in an area you’re passionate about then you’ll get the most out of it and dedicate yourself to making the most difference. If you could rub the crystal ball and get your dream job, then do it. Volunteering with community and Landcare groups is also pivotal to seeing what true outcomes are. 

Darren’s areaof passion over the past seven years have been the projects he’s done with threatened species, the Black Glossy Cockatoo, Southern Brown Bandicoot and Pygmy Possums. Also butterflies, as he says insects are always forgotten but they’re critical. The Black Glossy Cockatoo project in particular has been a focus for Darren across his entire time with CVA, and as a result he’s seen the tangible outcome of 34 hectares of trees grow taller than him – a part of conservation work that’s rare to witness, as Darren says most projects you complete and move on to the next before seeing the physical results. 

“Everything you do takes time. It might take ten minutes to chop down a tree, and then 20 years to replace it. Unfortunately, you can’t make a forest of trees grow in a month. In this field that’s all you can do though. If you stop and let it get to you, you just won’t do anything – and it’s what we’re here to do 

For Darren, at the end of the day achieving the outcomes is incredibly important, but it’s also about connecting with people. Alongside chasing Cane Toads in the Northern Territory, working with the community has been a highlight of his career so far. This has also unfolded in the form of integral partnerships – one of the most significant to date being his partnership with the Adelaide Airport. The Adelaide Airport team provided the land and the funding for Darren’s project, whilst Darren and the CVA volunteers drove the restoration through planting, weeding, flora and fauna surveys, and local community engagement.  

With other projects, Darren would often be working with different types of partners ranging from councils to the Department of Environment, coastal officersand of course the local community. In fact, he considers his role as being the link between everyone. 

Because I’d get the funding to do the projects and everyone else would join in, I’d be connecting the department people, council and community together. You can’t do everything with just one person, it all links back. We have to rely on people’s generosity and time, like the volunteers, to do the work that we do. 

With the help of many volunteers throughout the year, Darren has focused largely on the recovery of bushfire affected areas, mainly across the Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills. This has included growing and replanting native vegetation and building and installing nest boxes as homes for the wildlife who lost their habitats in the fires. 

In terms of what bushfire recovery efforts are needed going forward, Darren believes once again that community connections are key. He believes private land holders are a key community who need support, both for the mental health of those with fire affected properties, and so their land can begin to flourish again and provide for the environment around it. Darren also adds that the next 5 – 7 years after a catastrophic fire are critically important.  

In that period we actually see the regeneration of a site. We see the plants come back, we see the true Australian bush in its natural state – the way it’s supposed to be. A lot of our plants don’t actually rejuvenate without fire, smoke or disturbance, and that can impact the biodiversity of a location. If a fire takes out vegetation, weeds generally come up – so if we’re not there to control them then the native vegetation can’t return the way it should. 

In the spirit of doing our part to help the natural world around us, Darren sums it up nicely: basically, follow your passion, volunteer and contribute to society.



Wild Futures

Get Involved

We’re here to make it easy to take action for nature across Australia, and we would love your help. Check out the ways that you can get involved in Bushfire Recovery activities in your local area.