Latest news and insights from various sources relating to UN Sustainable Development Goals.


They say that the strength of the team is each individual member and the strength of each member is the team. This sentiment is certainly represented at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort on the Great Barrier Reef, where instead of nominating one Everyday Ecotourism Hero, Environmental Manager Chelsea Godson could not help but nominate four!

Credit Colin Baker

Photo: Colin Baker

Situated in a highly protected ‘green zone,’ Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort (LEIER) is often seen as a leader in sustainable tourism. The resort runs almost entirely on renewable energy, including solar and gas technology, and has won numerous awards for its dedication and commitment to sustainable ecotourism principles and exceptional customer service.  In this article, the last of our Everyday Ecotourism Heroes series*, we’re taking you behind the scenes to meet some of the team who drive LEIER’s sustainability mission and initiatives.

Robert Thomas

Robert Thomas  

Robbie Thomas, (aka Bob) is the LEIER Project Manager and plays a key role in moving the resort towards its target of being powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020. Since 2009, Bob’s attitude and commitment to sustainability have proven invaluable to the resort. Ten years on and to this day, Bob has maintained incredible resolve and problem-solving abilities that inspire and energise others. When problems are presented, he says with a smile, “Oh wow! How are we going to fix this?”.

“He inspires through his ability to experiment, overcome problems through tenacity and effort, pushing boundaries and taking risks with the intent to help others or the environment with everything from renewable energy, [to] IT, to the food composting system,” explains Chelsea.

“He always finds a way of making things work even when told it’s not going to work.”

John Meech

John Meech

It’s the people who expect nothing in return, but deserve the most, who are often the greatest assets to our communities. John Meech has been a volunteer at LEIER for 15 years and his dedication has left an incredible legacy of inspiration and on the ground conservation action.

John – whose interest in Lady Elliot Island started when he was a Ranger for the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service close to 20 years ago – has been involved in numerous volunteering projects at Lady Elliot, including conducting turtle research, educating guests and establishing the first native plant nursery on the island, called ‘John’s Nursery’. He started this nursery with a wheelbarrow and shovel, growing cuttings, digging holes and planting nearly 100 trees per year over the winter.

John’s work has inspired many others to contribute, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and other volunteers, kicking off an incredible team of people committed to helping conserve and improve Lady Elliot Island.

“John was always willing and encouraged guests to participate in his work with turtles and with the revegetation program. This helped improve the guest experience and inspired them to act for turtle conservation and contribute to environmental conservation,” explains Chelsea.

He also had the opportunity to meet HRH the Prince of Wales when he visited Lady Elliot Island, where he was able to share his knowledge of turtles.

 Jim and Annie Buck

Jim and Annie Buck

In another example of dedication and commitment, Jim and Annie Buck have played a pivotal role as conservation volunteers on both Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef for over 30 years. Having worked at LEIER in a volunteer capacity for nearly 10 years, Jim and Annie recently became permanent members of the team as Ecosystem Management Officer and Assistant.

The relationship between LEIER owner Peter Gash and Jim and Annie actually began some 33 years ago, when Jim and Annie were volunteering to monitor turtles on Lady Musgrave Island and Peter managed a tourism operation there. When Peter took over LEIER in 2005, it wasn’t long before the Bucks came to the island for a holiday and offered to volunteer their time there as well.

“Over 20 years [at Lady Musgrave Island] Jim and Annie were volunteers EVERY summer for 5 weeks at a time,” explains Chelsea. They did this all whilst holding down ‘real’ jobs and raising their daughters.

Today, Jim and Annie are responsible for acres of planted native trees, exotic weed eradication, turtle monitoring and guest education on the island. These Ecotourism Heroes have always taken the time to talk to guests and take them out at night to see turtles, making a huge positive impact on guest experiences – and in turn helping the natural environment through education.

“Jim and Annie motivate others, leading by example and being out in the field for hours on end and doing such great work that people naturally are curious as to what is going on. […] They are selfless, hardworking and passionate [and] their high quality and extensive work has had an incredibly positive environmental impact on the Island – and on our business.”

Thank you, Robert, John, Jim and Annie for all that you do and to Chelsea for nominating such a fabulous group of Everyday Ecotourism Heroes!

Lady Elliot turtle FB

*For more on our Everyday Ecotourism Heroes campaign, check out the feature articles below:


[Photos: Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort]

GSTC Training Program Announces New Partner, mascontour

GSTC Training Partner: mascontour Sustainable Tourism Consulting & Communication The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announces a new partnership with mascontour, a leading global sustainable tourism consultancy based in Berlin, Germany. GSTC will work with mascontour’s team of expert sustainable tourism consultants to deliver training and skills development opportunities for tourism industry professionals. One […]

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Every Everyday Ecotourism Hero has their own, unique way of impacting the world around them for the better. Jim Smith has fostered positive partnerships with local communities and businesses that will leave long lasting positive impacts on the area. From sourcing produce to educating the public on conservation and culture, Jim keeps it local and authentic. He greatly values the partnerships his company has made and continually uses and promotes local businesses in a day and age where it is often a cheaper and easier to go with imported products. His continuous work with Traditional Land Owners is something to be recognised as this is a core value to his business, Sea Darwin.

Jim set up Sea Darwin in 2008, which has evolved into an award-winning ecotourism business. This is a direct result of his passion for ecotourism. Jim thrives off showcasing the Top End coastal environment to Northern Territory visitors and is labelled by colleagues as a ‘responsible tourism role model’ for those in his company. Through Jim’s curious and intriguing stories of Darwin Harbour, customers and guests are motivated to connect with the Top End as an important environmental, culturally significant and historical destination.

 Sea Darwin Cruise Boat and Dolphins

“His commitment to the environment and to the community permeates his life, and his passion for ecotourism is evident to all who meet him,” says Heather, a Sea Darwin team member.

Jim has also successfully negotiated the very first Section 19 tourism licence with the Northern Land Council, following the finalisation of the Kenbi Land Claim in 2017. This involved working with the Traditional Owners to structure the licence in such a way as to protect the environmental fragility of Ngulbitjik. 

SEA Darwin NT Turtle 1 

Through Jim’s passion for ecotourism and belief in supporting the local community, he has instigated several giving back projects. For example, Sea Darwin donates a portion of their tour price to Austurtle (a Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Organisation). The company also conducts an annual marine debris collection of Ngulbitjik (Bare Sand Island) prior to the start of the sea turtle nesting season. Data from this annual collection is logged with Tangaroa Blue to assist with research and projects and this marine debris collection was awarded the NT Seafood Council’s Environment Award in 2017.

Sea Darwin also provides heavily discounted educational encounters for school groups, connecting them with Darwin Harbour’s history and habitats. Sea Darwin is always a significant partner in the annual Darwin Harbour Clean Up and Jim is a member of the NT Government’s Darwin Harbour Advisory Committee.

Jim’s work is invaluable to the restoration and conservation of the Northern Territories environment and culture and we’re very thankful to have him as part of the Ecotourism Australia community!

SEA Darwin NT Turtle 3 

Thank you, Jim, for all that you do, and to Heather for nominating him.

For more information on Sea Darwin, visit their website or Facebook page.

For more information on our other Everyday Ecotourism Heroes, check out the other articles in this series:

SEA Darwin NT Turtle 2 

Is there someone in your business who you think is an Everyday Ecotourism Hero? Tell us about them!

Have we piqued your interest in travelling sustainably? Make sure you check out our Green Travel Guide and News page for some eco travel inspiration!


[Photos: Sea Darwin]


Hiking for mental health is the mission behind The Hike Collective. The Collective exists primarily to create awareness of the connection between movement and nature for mental health. Not only do they achieve this, but they also open the opportunity for locals and visitors to enjoy safe and sustainable hiking experiences in Western Australia through fostering organic connections and support for hikers.

The Hike Collective WA Walking Shoes

Formed in 2016 as a simple Facebook group, a few friends and clients of founder Kate Gibson began to see the effects of nature on their mental health and clarity.  Kate’s clients were talking, laughing and moving more freely about nature than they ever had before. The word quickly spread, and The Hike Collective grew into a fully-fledged company that provides opportunities for individuals and businesses to explore nature in one of the most organic and low impact forms possible with a group of like-minded people.

the hike collective 3

The Hike Collective are currently selling out with hiking events of 100 people. They share their message and vision through social media with a reach of over 75,000 people. Their tribe of 17 volunteer hike leaders assists in making hiking in WA accessible and achievable for everybody.

The Hike Collective WA

The Hike Collective provides a hiking and nature experience that makes a positive impact on both the community and the environment. They have a minimal impact policy and practice the principle of ‘leave no trace’. The company puts a large emphasis on leaving trails and the natural environment as untouched as possible and the policies they have implemented promote the conservation of the ecological and intrinsic values of natural settings for outdoor recreation. Through their focus on environmental risk management and education for guests, they actively contribute to the management and upkeep of trails.

The Hike Collective WA Waterfall

We would like to congratulate the Hike Collective on achieving Nature Tourism Certification and welcome them to the Ecotourism Australia family.

Find out about this excellent company here.


[Photos: The Hike Collective]

We Are Water Foundation and Diamond Resorts partner to launch sustainable water usage initiative at European resorts

Diamond Resorts™, a global leader in the hospitality and vacation ownership industries, has announced it has partnered with the We Are Water Foundation to launch an initiative that encourages travellers to make a rational and sustainable use of water. The partnership demonstrates Diamond Resorts’ commitment to changing sustainability practices within the hospitality and tourism industries. As part […]

Tips from Airbnb Tourism Advisory Board

How to Support Healthy Tourism When You Travel: Tips from Airbnb Tourism Advisory Board Professor the Hon. Bob Carr, the former Foreign Affairs Minister for Australia and former Premier of New South Wales: “Beyond the advice of our Tourism Advisory Board, there are many other resources you can tap for learning how to be a […]

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PATA BUFFET – State of the Industry Report

PATA BUFFET (Building an Understanding For Food Excess in Tourism) State of the Industry Report Every year around the globe, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted. That is one-third of all food produced for human consumption (FAO, 2019). There is a huge opportunity for the tourism and hospitality industry in the Asia […]

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