Every ecotourism hero has their own unique way of inspiring others, and for Tracey Larkin, owner of Mt Barney Lodge, it’s about normalising eco-behaviours.
Whether she’s giving guests an impromptu tour of the property to show them the Glossy Black Cockatoo she’s managed to attract with her 110 feed trees (planted onsite in partnership with the Glossy Black Conservancy in 2009 in an effort to help conserve this threatened species); explaining her 3-bay commercial composting bay to someone showing interest (which composts 100% of Mt Barney’s green waste) or sharing cuttings and seedlings with guests (who promise to bring their own favourite cutting in return when they next visit), Tracey is a natural at sharing her love for nature with others.
“I strive to give guests practical examples of everyday eco actions that they can learn about onsite, then implement when they get home,” she says.
This passion extends beyond her guests to also impact the local community: a couple of months ago, Tracey instigated the involvement of Mt Barney Lodge in the ShareWaste economy, a platform which brings together people who have kitchen scraps with those who have ways to compost them.
Now, on top of composting all of the lodge and campsite’s own paper waste, garden waste, weeds and horse poo, Mt Barney Lodge also composts the food waste, cardboard and paper of other businesses in the local Boonah region. And it’s bringing the community together:
“We saw an opportunity to help [Hummingbirds Pantry and Café in Boonah] to close the loop in their business practices, as well as providing a leading example that other businesses in town and the wider Scenic Rim Council area could follow… ultimately, we want to show others that you can turn waste into new soil rather than adding yet another pile to landfill.” – so Mt Barney’s news page.
As if rallying a town around joint composting wasn’t enough, Tracey’s ‘eco hero’ actions also include implementing a ‘low carbon diet’ with tourist operators in the region to decrease their carbon footprint and creating and managing the 2011 ‘Protesters on Peaks’ action in the Scenic Rim to stop the introduction of coal and coal seam gas.
She also ensured that single use soft plastic recycling was implemented in all of Mt Barney Lodge’s buildings from 2017 and launched a single-use plastic water bottle-free July for all Mt Barney Lodge guests in 2018, which saw plastic water bottle rubbish decrease by 95%.
At every juncture, Tracey welcomes the suggestions of her team, and gladly delegates specific actions to staff members according to their own strengths and talents.
“The outcome is what’s most important,” she says.
Thank you, Tracey, for all that you do for your local community and environment, and for the leadership you show to your team and everyone around you.
For more information on our other Everyday Ecotourism Heroes, check out the other articles in this series:
- Edition 1: Ronda Green, Araucaria Ecotours
- Edition 2: Zane Robnik, Park Trek
- Edition 3: Jess Leask, Kings Ningaloo Reef
- Edition 4: Zak Kelly, Whitsunday Segway Tours
Is there someone in your business who you think is an Everyday Ecotourism Hero? Tell us about them!
Congratulations to Swell Lodge on achieving Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business Certification for their Swell Lodge and Nature Tours!
Swell Lodge is a low-impact set of elegant, completely off-grid, 100% solar-powered, glass-fronted, raised luxury safari eco-chalets. Nestled in the Christmas Island National Park, surrounded by wildlife and overlooking the ever-changing ocean, Swell Lodge provides guests with a variety of signature experiences during their stay.
Devoted to emission mitigation without sacrificing room convenience and comfort, Swell Lodge uses the latest in technology: Each of the eco-chalets in Swell Lodge is 100% solar powered (saving over 750kgs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere every year) and to handle the heat and humid weather on the island, air-conditioners are substituted by energy efficient, high-output ceiling fans in each eco-chalet, saving an additional 1,500kgs of CO2 annually, compared to staying in a regular hotel room.
Swell Lodge also features purely solar-heated hot water, a modern odourless composting toilet, crab-safe vehicle attachments and a carbon-offset program realised through Greenfeet with native trees planted to offset the CO2 emissions from lodge vehicles. Guests are involved in climate action through a smartphone app which helps them track their power usage during their stay in Swell Lodge.
Swell Lodge also provides guided walks and other nature tours and experiences for their guests to enjoy the unique natural scenery of Christmas Island. Guests can choose from several guided walks of different length, difficulty and featuring a variety of points of interest, go snorkelling or diving, enjoy a movie under the stars or get some photography experience with Swell Lodge owners, award-winning Australian Geographic photographer Chris Bray and his wife Jess, and the team.
In addition, Swell Lodge also participates in the conservation of local habitats of Christmas Island, including regular beach clean up events and monetary donations to Christmas Island National Parks’ Bird Rehabilitation Centre & Lizard Lounge. Guests are also encouraged to contribute to the conservation activities during their stay.
We are excited to welcome Swell Lodge to Ecotourism Australia and once again congratulate them on their achievement!
When your tourism business provides such great visitor experiences that it inspires your guests to write poetry*, you know you must be onto a good thing.
It’s something that comes naturally to Whitsunday Segway Tours’ owner/operator Zak Kelly – after all, his business is built on a combined 40 years of tourism experience.
However, whilst experience and knowledge are certainly key factors in running a successful business, continuous improvement and innovation are also beneficial. And this is exactly what Zak’s wife Vhari, describes her husband as being good at:
“In three words, Zak is an innovator, passionate and dedicated,” she says.
She also explains that since starting the business five years ago, Zak has always strived to make it more environmentally friendly and suitable for eco-friendly and environmentally conscious clientele.
“He’s always implementing environmentally friendly practices, she says.
“Each year the business is entered into the local tourism awards in the Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Category [and] this encourages Zak to innovate and continually introduce new eco-friendly practices into the business.
“Some of these practices include using reusable containers in the morning tea packs on tour, using a water repellent layer on the Segway to reduce cleaning and using an air compressor to remove surface dust, rather than washing with water regularly.”
Zak’s keen interest in running his business in a sustainable way is also communicated to his guests. When explaining the functionality of the Segway, Zak always promotes the fact that the vehicles create zero emissions and ensures that guests do not leave any rubbish in the rainforest. He also ensures that his guests walk away from the experience not only with new skills but more knowledge on the local flora and fauna:
“Being born and bred in Airlie, Zak was abundant in local knowledge and had a true appreciation for the area,” said guest Anita J on TripAdvisor. Other guests agree, with reviews frequently commenting ton Zak’s knowledge of the local flora, fauna and history.
Zak’s enthusiasm also flows over to his team, with whom he has regular meetings to discuss plans for making his business even more sustainable.
Whitsundays Segway Tours achieved Ecotourism Certification in August 2018 and already have plans to upgrade this and include more eco-friendly practices into their business, such as monitoring and offsetting their carbon emissions and charging their Segways with renewable energy.
Thank you to Whitsunday Segway Tours, particularly nominator, Vhari Kelly and nominee, Zak Kelly, for being part of our Everyday Ecotourism Heroes article series!
Is there someone in your business who you think is an Everyday Ecotourism Hero? Tell us about them!
*We weren’t kidding about the poetry:
“To find a destination that’s officially certified as taking sustainability issues seriously, visit the GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council) website.” Read the full article: How to be an eco-traveller (and still have it all) by By Suzanne King on Skyscanner (February 4, 2019) Confused about the terms “certification”, “recognition”, “accreditation”? Watch this short video.
Over the last 12 months, EA has been conducting a comprehensive review of the ECO Certification program to simplify the application process and ensure our criteria accurately reflects current global best practice standards for sustainable, minimal impact tourism. Routine reviews of the criteria are vital for maintaining the integrity of our programs.
The review is in its final stages of completion and implementation of the revised criteria will commence in coming months. You can expect to see:
- changes in how guidance has been integrated into the application process,
- stronger criteria around minimising the carbon footprint of your business as well as access to simple online carbon measurement tools,
- more inclusive criteria around accessibility,
- better integration of expectations for GBRMPA’s high standard tourism operator program,
- general updates on industry standards, and
- a more logical criteria framework that facilitates planning and business development.
New and current applicants can expect to have access to the reviewed ECO Certification program by end March 2019. Current certified operators are expected to be rolled over to the revised program alongside the implementation of our new online certification portal, planned for launch from mid-2019, and with help through our routine audit processes.
No action is required by current certified operators at this time, and further information will be circulated as we progress closer to launch.
For more information, contact our Operations Manager Emily Ellis on 07 3256 6777 or [email protected].
What does it take to make a difference? Is it passion? Bravery? Determination? A willingness to stay standing when others won’t? In any case, it’s obvious that not all heroes wear capes. In this article, we want to introduce you to some amazing young people from across the globe. These are heroes who have shown that age is just a number. They have proven that one individual can inspire a thousand others. These are some real inspirational individuals who make it feel like we have reached a turning point – that our future is in good hands. Don’t underestimate what future generations may be capable of achieving. Get ready to learn about some of our future leaders.
Greta Thunberg (The Guardian)
Greta Thunberg – Climate activist
Maybe you remember schoolchildren across Australia walking out of class to make the Australian Government take action on climate change. These kids were said to be inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who after her school strike outside the Swedish Parliament building has become a prominent environmental figure. Greta says in her TedX talk that her concern for climate change started at the age of eight when she was told about climate change by her teacher. Her research on the topic went on for six years. Today, she just doesn’t ‘talk the talk’ but she also lives as she learns: Greta stopped eating meat at the age of 12 and she has since 2015 stopped flying on airplanes and is instead riding her electrical bike around in Stockholm. In 2018, she was nominated as one of the finalists of the Children’s Climate Prize, but she asked the committee to remove her nomination. This was because all finalists had to be flown to the ceremony. Her strike has gained massive attention across the globe, and although she claims that she doesn’t care about being popular, she has got a lot of supporters across the globe, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Leonardo Di Caprio. She claims although most people are very supportive, she has been told by politicians that she should go back to school instead of sitting outside the parliament building. However, this hasn’t got her to back down, it has rather reinforced her fighting spirit. Greta attended last year’s COP24 United Nations Climate Change Summit in Poland, where she encouraged global leaders to “change the system,” and this month she attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, where her goal was to provide a different perspective on climate change and climate injustice. She admits that provoking leaders might help to get their attention. Her attitude and determination have seen her be named one of Time magazine’s most influential teenagers of 2018.
Molly Steer (ABC News)
Moly Steer – Eliminating plastic straws
In Australia, nine-year-old Molly Steer is an excellent example of what one person can achieve. Statistics show that Australians used 10 million straws a day in 2018 and research states that corals which are in contact with plastic have a substantially higher risk of getting sick or dying. Molly’s initiative, the ‘Straw No More’ campaign, encourages people to stop using single-use plastic straws and has received international recognition. The campaign doesn’t just want people to stop using plastic straws, but also educate people on the impacts of plastic pollution. As of today, this campaign has got 90 schools across Australia and overseas get rid of plastic straws. Molly also proposed a challenge to the Mayor of Cairns on Cairns to become the first straw-free council in Australia. The result? The Mayor accepted the challenge: all straws and single-use plastics will be removed from council operations and businesses in the area have been encouraged to do the same. Molly has even recently shared her campaign with the Australian Prime Minister and received the Young Woman of Cairns Award for her efforts in 2018.
Angelina Arora (National Geographic)
Angelina Arora – Scientist
Also in Australia, 15-year old Angelina Arora (winner of the chemistry prize at the 2016 NSW Young Scientist Awards) has approached the excessive use of plastic differently. Using prawn shells, she has managed to find a way to extract chitin from the shells. Chitin it is a natural protein extracted from prawn shells, and it is the same protein that spiders use to make their webs. Amelia describes the material as strong, flexible and to have all the features one wants in plastic. Although chitin degrades slowly, it degrades completely and is proven to be harmless to mother nature. Angelina has got two objectives with her ‘chitin plastic’ project. One is to provide an alternative to plastic bags, and another is to change the general perception of science as a subject for boys and inspire other girls to pursue a career in science.
Amelia Telford (NAIDOC)
Amelia Telford – the voice of Indigenous youth
Amelia Telford has become the voice of Indigenous Australian youth. Northern Rivers is known for its beautiful natural environment and strong Indigenous culture. From growing up here, she learned to appreciate the natural environment from a young age. Amelia was involved in environmental groups at school, and while in high school, joined the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC). Her eagerness to take action on climate change and her ability to speak up against injustice was highly appreciated within the organisation. Amelia has had a fundamental role in creating a movement of youth against social and environmental issues here in Australia. In 2014, an offspring of AYCC was established, called SEED. This is Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network. SEED was established with the vision of building a more sustainable future with strong cultures and local community involvement. Amelia describes climate change as being ‘an umbrella issue’, and suggests that it connects several ongoing cultural and environmental problems, which will amplify until something is done about it. Although that climate change presents a great threat to all of us, SEED has chosen to view climate change as an opportunity to create a more sustainable world. The cooperation between AYCC and SEED is considered quite unique in that it has created a way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people to work together towards a mutual goal.
José Adolfo (Odditycentral)
José Adolfo – Founder of the eco bank
Thirteen-year-old Jose has, despite his age, already attracted a lot of attention for his initiative of establishing a recycling bank. At the age of seven, he developed and implemented his initiative, which earned him the Children’s Climate Prize in 2018. With his initiative, Jose does not just aspire to bring about environmental awareness. Jose also hopes to bring about a cultural change by providing financial education. Children and teenagers are welcome to his bank, where they must bring at least 5kg of paper or plastic waste as first-time customers and can start an account. At assigned collection points, waste is converted to currency, as Jose sells all waste to recycling companies. Once the waste is sold, customers receive money on their account. This initiative is much appreciated in Peru, which has a long history of difficulties in waste management. As of today, Jose has established ten centres across Peru.
There is a lot we can learn from these seven young legends. Their determination to bring positive change, courage and innovative mindsets are traits that should be encourage among all of our youth. Do you agree? And do you know anyone else we should add to our list of next-gen changemakers? Let us know in the comments below!
P.S. Molly (Straw No More) also done a TEDx talk! You can check it out here.
[Cover image: School Strike 4 Climate Action]