Latest news and insights from various sources relating to UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Are you spending a lot of time at home looking out of your windows, dreaming of all the places you’d rather be? Well, it’s time to make your staring count.
From now until Sunday the 19th of April, you can join people from all around Australia for the National Wild Pollinator Count – a long-term citizen science project that tracks native pollinator species around Australia. What’s required of you? Just to sit and watch any flowering plant for ten minutes and record the insects you see.
Yes, making a difference in the world can be that easy.
Photo: Uralba Eco Cottages / Facebook
The National Wild Pollinator Count is just one of many activities happening around the country as part of Citizen Science Month this April, so if counting bees and butterflies is not your thing, you’ll be happy to know that there are a lot of other opportunities to get involved, too.
And you don’t even need to break any ‘iso’ rules to contribute!
Photo: Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours / Facebook
From recording the birds you see around you (bonus points if you see any of the special April birds) to finding, recording and validating frog calls in your backyard, citizen science – or public participation and collaboration in scientific research with the aim to increase scientific knowledge – is an easy and productive way to pass some time while you’re forced to stay at home.
The best part is, your contribution could make a real difference to conservation outcomes and advances in scientific knowledge related to the environment, disease control and much more. Plus – you can get the whole family involved. Win-win!
Photo: Broger’s End Kangaroo Valley
“Citizen scientists can work from home too,” says Dr Julie Vercelloni, Research Scientist Fellow at QUT and one of the scientists behind the Virtual Reef Diver project, which brings spatial science and maths together to map the Great Barrier Reef’s coral cover and help protect the Reef for future generations.
“On Virtual Reef Diver, you can help protect the Reef by classifying underwater images. We have data that need to be analysed and transformed into valuable information to help scientists and managers monitor the Great Barrier Reef. It’s an excellent opportunity to stay connected with your passion while you are not able to travel.”
Photo: Wings Sailing Tours / Facebook
For more great citizen science projects to get involved in this month, check out the links below:
- Collect and record data that will help shape Australia’s scientific response to climate change with ClimateWatch.
- If you live along the coast and hinterlands of the south-eastern corner of Australia, you can help document the biodiversity of the region by recording what you see on Naturemapr.
- Play the Questa game – the world’s first game that allows players to help save life on earth!
- Set up a Backyard Bio Blitz to track nature in your own backyard and be part of the City Nature Challenge happening in Adelaide, Geelong, Redlands City and Sydney from 24-27 April.
Photo: Understand Down Under / Facebook
WILDLIFE IN CITIES
- Help monitor wildlife in Australia’s cities by recording what you see in the Urban Wildlife app. This information helps scientists to understand how native wildlife populations can best co-exist with humans.
- Complete quests to help Australian scientists understand how galaxies grow and evolve by joining Astroquest.
Photo: Wilpena Pound Resort
OTHER HELPFUL INFO:
Have you been involved in any citizen science projects? Let us know in the comments below!
[Cover image: Tropic Wings Cairns Tours & Wooroonooran Safaris / Facebook]
When Peter and Kerry bought their 13-acre property, with a retail nursery on site, in Dunbogan on the Mid North Coast of NSW in 2004, they had no idea of what the future would hold. All they knew was that they had bought a property of sub-tropical rainforest with 400 metres of river and zoned wetlands on one side and a short stroll to the beach on the other.
Sixteen years later they have transformed the old retail nursery into botanic style gardens with an open coffee bar, built two luxury eco-treehouses that attract visitors from all around the world, and in November 2019, they opened The Fernery at Diamond Waters wedding, small business conference multipurpose centre. The diversification from plant nursery to tourism is now complete.
The Treehouses were built on the principle of treading lightly on the environment. By using a 10-point matrix development plan, the Treehouses were built using completely recycled or recyclable materials, zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and zero pest chemical treatment strategies. The Treehouses feature 100% rainwater use, on site composting of all organic matter, a state-of-the-art low energy water treatment system, and the solar systems installed at the time of development provide more energy than is used.
For Peter and Kerry, the true joy of tourism has been the people that they have met from all over Australia and the world. Thirty five percent of their guests have been self-driving international guests, predominantly from Europe and Asia, but also from Iran, Russia, Africa, Canada and the Americas.
As a former health service manager, Peter needed no convincing of the quality improvement principles and benefits of accreditation and the Treehouses attained Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business certification shortly after opening.
The next stage of development was The Fernery at Diamond Waters events centre. Nestled into the botanic style gardens, The Fernery has been another exercise in stepping outside of traditional building practices to achieve a low impact sustainable result. Solid block Hebel walls, 150mm sandwich roofing and ‘reverse insulation’ techniques were used for maximum sound and cooling temperature solutions, and even in summer, no air conditioning is necessary. The project was supported by the Destination NSW Regional Tourism Product Development Fund.
The target wedding market for The Fernery are couples seeking a beautiful location and venue to host an accessible and affordable eco-style wedding where they can choose their own stylists, caterers, drinks and bar options. The photos shown in this article are from Dan and Gabi’s wedding where everyone travelled 180 kilometres from Newcastle, staying in accommodation all around the beautiful Camden Haven region. It was a stunning event. At this last wedding not one piece of plastic was used, and all waste consisted of either recycled (10c refund) bottles or purely on-site compostable matter. The property’s pet goats ate the corsages and floral decorations!
Not content with stopping there, Peter and Kerry are now working on their approved 66 metre wetland walkway and bird hide that will provide all guests with the opportunity to explore the wetlands and provide a gateway for kayaking opportunities. When this project is completed it will also mean the Treehouses, The Fernery, all gardens and the pathways from the car park to the water’s edge will be wheelchair accessible, a rare achievement for such a large property.
When the COVID 19 crisis is over the Treehouse Retreat will emerge as an enhanced ecotourism experience.
For more information about the Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat, check them out in our Green Travel Guide.
[Cover photo credit: Little Glimpses Photography from Bonny Hills]
Always thought going on an ECO adventure meant packing up the trailer and driving hours until you reached nature’s best-preserved national park? Have you ever thought about going for an adventure in your backyard? While most of us think we must leave our homes and travel as far as possible to go on holidays, there are so many things to explore just in front of our doorsteps.
This Easter, we want to encourage you to not let this crisis ruin your holidays. Instead, take this very unique time as an opportunity to go and explore your closest surroundings. You might even see everything from a different perspective; from the perspective of an ECO adventurer!
Have a look at these ideas and see if there is something that triggers the ECO adventurer in you.
• Camping in the backyard
Photo: Bonfire. / Credit: Mount Barney Lodge.
Going camping is a great adventure that even your littlest ones can engage in. All you need is to dig out your tent and pitch it in the middle of your backyard. Make it even more authentic by lighting a bonfire (remember to check your region’s fire restrictions first!). If you have the resources, carve your own individual wooden sticks. You can then stick your home-made stick bread or marshmallows onto them and enjoy a great night around the fire before crawling into your tent. And if there is no backyard available, set your tent up in your living room or spare room. Sleeping in there will still be an exciting adventure for everybody to enjoy.
Photo: Stargazing. / Credit: Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre.
Never have the skies been clearer than now, with only a small number of airlines still flying. Let’s take advantage of this and go stargazing. For this particular ECO adventure, you don’t need much. Just take a blanket and some pillows and lay down in the grass in the evening. You’ll be surprised by all the stars that you will get to see and how much there is to learn about our beautiful universe. If you want to incorporate an educational element, download the Night Sky app to teach you about the constellations you see, or hone in on your imagination by making up your own.
• Easter egg hunt
Photo: Easter eggs. / Credit: Pixabay.
Make the Easter egg hunt extra special this year by integrating a little adventure. Hide the chocolate eggs in your neighbourhood and get the whole family involved. Everybody will be allowed to keep their own findings. This is a great incentive to get everybody to run as fast as they can (we’re talking from experience!). Alternatively, turn your traditional Easter egg hunt into a scavenger hunt, by hiding hints that will lead to the grand big Easter surprise.
• Embrace the night
Photo: Melbourne by night. / Credit: Pixabay.
We promise you that this hike will be a special one. Put on your shoes as soon as the sun has set and don’t forget to grab a couple of spare batteries for your torch. Don’t plan your route, just leave the house and explore your neighbourhood by night. While on your walk, focus on your senses. What are you still able to see? Where do the noises come from? Do you see any wildlife sneaking around? Make the most of your ECO adventure and keep lighting to a minimum. Try to be as quiet as possible by making use of sign language. It will be an adventure for your senses, as your ears will be exposed to completely new noises.
• Cover your partner’s eyes and take them for a walk around the block
Photo: Two walking. / Credit: Pixabay.
This adventure is one of the more experimental ones. We have probably all done the walk around the neighbourhood a million times already since being forced to stay at home, so our eyes have got used to the surroundings. This means that your brain has memorised your surroundings and as soon as you pass your neighbours’ houses, you actually don’t ‘see’ the houses anymore. Your brain simply projects the saved images. We want you to ‘use’ your brain on your next walk. Grab a towel or scarf and cover up your walking companion’s eyes. Only guide him or her by saying where to go. Make sure that you warn him or her of potential hazards, such as steps or traffic. While guiding your partner, describe the surroundings. Describe the leaves’ colours or the neighbour’s front yard. At the end of the walk let your partner guess where you are standing. You will be surprised at how this walk has affected the senses.
• Nature’s treasures
Photo: Breenhold Gardens, Mount Wilson Australia. / Credit: Unsplash.
Another way of creating a new walking adventure around your neighbourhood can be by collecting what nature has in store. Autumn just started, and nature is constantly changing. Whether it is leaves turning yellow or plants blooming along the street, take a bag with you and collect nature’s treasures. Let the little ones become creative by using their treasures to make beautiful artwork.
• The adventure of story time
Photo: Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park. / Credit: Groovy Grape Tours.
Reading to your family or friends can be a great adventure. Dreamtime Aboriginal stories are a great example of fascinating stories. Build a fort in your lounge or if you have space outside sit in your backyard or lie on your trampoline. Learn about Australia’s Indigenous heritage and enjoy an adventure in the comfort of your home. And don’t forget to grab some snacks!
• Virtual safari adventure
Photo: Bilby. / Credit: Taronga Zoo.
While zoos are closed, animals are still roaming around enjoying their life and probably not even realising what has been going on in the world. Have a look at Taronga TV, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary or Adelaide Zoo who put up web cameras for you to enjoy the animals. Through these platforms you can go on a virtual safari adventure and learn about the animals from your home base. Get the kids involved and let them explore.
• Easter tree with a stick from your garden
Photo: Easter tree. / Credit: Pixabay.
Incorporating nature into your life doesn’t have to mean only spending time outdoors. The Easter tree is a great tradition originating in Germany. First start by collecting branches and putting them in a vase. Then paint and dye eggs to hang on the branches or hang up any Easter decorations you have already. Traditionally, this symbolises the return of spring. If you have a property with trees, you might even go for a full-scale Easter tree!
Check out this cool video on how you can easily dye hard boiled eggs using ingredients from your own pantry.
• Re-enact the old days
Photo: Compass, Melbourne, Australia. / Credit: Unsplash.
Do a time travel adventure. Call an elderly person and ask how they would celebrate Easter back in the day, then re-enact (as far as possible) those traditions and habits. You will end up experiencing a fun and technology-free day.
Let’s get ready to start this year’s Easter holidays. Make sure to tag us and share with the EA family your Easter holiday adventures.
Sustainability in tourism. The role of policies, of local communities and of the technologies involved: A literature review (2nd part): Tourism Education and Sustainability
Spirits are still, understandably, running high at Venture North Australia (VNA) as owners Hugh and Aaron Grange have recently returned from the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards in Canberra, where they were awarded gold in the category of Cultural Tourism.
We wanted to congratulate this outstanding Northern Territory business, who are Advanced Ecotourism and ROC Certified, on their win at these prestigious national awards. The business was eligible to enter this category as it won the 2019 NT Tourism (Brolga) Award for Cultural Tourism, which in turn qualified them for the national award.
The Cultural Tourism award specifically recognises ‘tourism operations that foster a greater understanding and appreciation of authentic culture, history, heritage and/or the arts’ and, as the Ecotourism Australia community is dedicated to continuous improvement, we thought we would take this opportunity to chat to Aaron and share with you some insights into how they sustain best practice within their business.
EA: Congratulations on winning gold for Cultural Tourism at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards this year! What does this award mean to you?
VNA: Thank you! To win this national award is special, it’s acknowledgment for us and all our staff that we are doing a really good job. Our guides and staff often work long hours, going above and beyond so this award provides some recognition for this.
EA: With such consistent successes over the last few years at the national awards, what do you believe gives your business the edge with the experiences you offer?
VNA: We’ve been operating in the NT for 15+ years now and have developed some really strong relationships with many TO’s [Traditional Owners] and their families. This has allowed us access to places (particularly in Arnhem Land) which aren’t open to the general public where we are able to offer our guests some really amazing one-on-one cultural experiences.
EA: What are the challenges you face as a tourism operator in Northern Australia?
VNA: Being a seasonal business means staff turnover is something that is hard to avoid so providing the best possible workplace is definitely a focus for us. This year it looks like the bushfires and now COVID-19 will have an impact so we’ve been putting some strategies in place to tackle that.
EA: What are the biggest lessons you have learnt from building an ecotourism operation in the Top End that has such a strong focus on showcasing culture?
VNA: It takes time, especially working in some Indigenous communities so don’t try to rush it. We know now it might take 3 or 4 years to get say a ‘bush tucker tour’ from idea to offering it to our guests but that’s just the way it is. Another learning has been outsourcing, you can’t do it all, focus on what you are good at/have time for and pay others to do the rest – don’t burn yourself out!
EA: What advice would you give someone at the beginning of their ecotourism journey?
VNA: There is lots of support for tourism businesses out there, often it’s free so make sure you use it all! Work with your local tourism bodies, STO’s etc. go to the meetings and be involved. Also carve out a little time each week to work on the business, rather than just in the business (and stick to it!).
EA: What has Venture North set their sights on to strive for in the future?
VNA: Our goal is to employ more local full-time Indigenous guides throughout the season. Although we subcontract lots of Indigenous guides, we only have one Indigenous guide on full time currently so we are constantly working at that. We also have our fishing business Cobourg Fishing Safaris which we primarily operate in our shoulder seasons (April/May & Oct/Nov) which has some real room for growth so that’s exciting.
On behalf of the board and staff of EA, we would once again like to pass on our congratulations to Hugh, Aaron and their team on this outstanding achievement.
Planning a visit to the Northern Territory? Keen to experience remote Arnhem Land safaris, Kakadu tours, Kimberley expeditions and much more? Check out more information on Venture North Australia and the small group cultural and based tours they offer here.
[All photos courtesy of Venture North Australia]