Nature Conservation Margaret River Region has made its long-serving executive officer redundant, two months after appointing a full-time chief executive. Caroline Hughes, nine-year veteran of the once-fledgling conservation body known as the Cape-to-Cape Catchments Group, announced her departure on social media last week. It follows the appointment of former Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association chief executive Pip Close to an expanded full-time role in May. The new chief’s role — with an annual salary of about $110,000 plus superannuation and leave entitlements — was predominantly funded by the Wright-Burt Foundation. The budget for Ms Hughes’ new part-time program manager role would be redistributed to areas such as communications, information technology, and finance administration. Ms Close said the NCMRR finance department was under growing pressure, and overall funding for the group was tight. “The change has seen a re-organisation of the business as a result of a recent strategic review of the organisation’s business plans ahead of the next three years,” she said. “The appointment of a CEO supported by a different funding source, and the board’s desire to grow the organisation has meant change now whilst planning for the years ahead.” Ms Hughes revealed the news “with great sadness”. “I am graciously moving on following a decision by the Nature Conservation board making my position with the organisation redundant,” she said online. “I feel very proud of the wonderful work we have achieved together over this time and the great benefits we have brought to the Margaret River regional environment. “I wish everyone associated with Nature Conservation the very best for the future. “I have every confidence the staff will continue their work with great passion and dedication, partnering with you all, to realise environmental outcomes for our very special region.” Ms Close previously gave up her CEO role at MRBTA for a gig in Queensland, but returned to the region in November 2019 to prepare tourism operators for Jetstar’s Melbourne-to-Busselton flights — flights which are still yet to eventuate because of delays caused by COVID-19. COVID-19 and the downturn in tourism propelled Ms Close into project work with social work collective Mindful Margaret River, securing $42,000 from ratepayers out of an emergency Shire of Augusta-Margaret River stimulus fund backed by $2 million saved from annual waste levies on households. Ms Close returned to full-time work with MRBTA last July as a tourism business and product development specialist, with funding provided in-house.