This Award was established in 1997 by Mr Stuart Leslie AM, who was then one of Birds Australia's long-time major donors and a keen bird watcher. Aware of the crucial importance of ongoing ornithological research and the financial challenges facing Australian students, Mr Leslie generously committed to giving $15,000 per year to support post-graduate field work and travel to scientific conferences. In late 2004, he was awarded a Fellowship of the RAOU.
Since establishment, the Award has provided $425,000 and has assisted more than 200 projects, including studies on threatened species such as the Powerful Owl, Regent Honeyeater and Hooded Plover. Each year, the number of applications received has increased steadily, evidence of the vital need for grant schemes such as the Stuart LeslieAward.
Mr Leslie chose to fund bird research because they are good indicators of the overall health of the environment. He encouraged other individuals and corporations to consider donating to research organisations.
"Wildlife research is vital to our future. Bird species are declining and we often don't know why. Many Australians are in the position, individually or through their business, to make a real difference to the future of our wildlife. It is a relatively easy and immensely satisfying thing to do."
The Stuart Leslie Bird Research Award (SLBRA) will continue into the future thanks to a generous bequest from Mr Leslie, who passed away in 2005, and the ongoing support from Mrs Leslie and the Stuart Leslie Foundation.