The elusive rufous scrub bird

 

The elusive rufous scrub bird

WTA member Greg Clancy writes about his experiences seeking this little brown bird that forages like a small mammal on the forest floor, and despite its strong voice is quite a challenge to actually find.

http://gregswildliferamblings.blogspot.com.au/



Mt Barney, southeast Queensland, great for walking

Top walks at Mt Barney

Reproduced from an article by Karl C0ndon, Gold Coast Bulletin

[note: although described here as a volcanic summit, Mt Barney , though close to volcanoes it not itself a volcanic cone - it was volcanic larva that cooled underground and was then thrust up by massive earth movements]

IMtBarneySummitCool nights make way for sparkling clear days in the Scenic Rim. There is no better time of year to exhume your walking shoes and head for the hills to do some of the classic walks in the Mt Barney valley than the transition from summer to autumn. The mild weather and clear skies make this the perfect time to “bag a peak” – and there are plenty to choose from amongst the rugged topography that makes up the McPherson Range. The volcanic summit of Mt Barney towers over the many peaks, standing at an impressive 1354m.

If you are unfamiliar with the region, it is an easy 90 minutes drive west from Nerang, and sits close to the NSW border, between Beaudesert and Boonah. Upon leaving the Gold Coast, the leafy drive through the first set of hills – the Green Mountains – immediately transports you into a more relaxed frame of mind, and you definitely know when you are in the Scenic Rim when you pass through the welcoming township of Canungra.

Mt Barney is known as “Queensland’s most impressive peak” – as although it isn’t the highest, its’ alpine-like peak is bare of trees and looks similar to what you may see in a snow-capped alpine area. The area is also very popular with bushwalkers due to the vast areas of off-track bushwalking through pristine protected conservation areas. The park is World Heritage-listed, and contains important remnants of ancient Gondwanan rainforest.

There is a huge variety of walks on offer to experience both the views and the unique landscape. There are easy old 4WD roads to follow on foot, established National Park tracks to peaks, creeks and waterholes, and off-track walks up breezy mountain ridges for the more experienced navigator. For the weekend walker, there are a few good options with tracks to follow as well. Here are my favourites:

Lower Portals

MtBarneyLowerPortalsThis is probably the most popular short walk in the area, as the 40 metre rock gorge and deep waterhole invite you to swim, explore and revisit time and time again. The track leaves from a carpark on the Lower Portals Rd, accessed via Seidenspinner Rd signposted 3.5 km north of Mt Barney Lodge. It is one of the few graded and maintained tracks in the area. The 3.7 km walk rollercoasters over 10 short hills in open eucalypt forest. The walk has features sections of grasstree (Xanthorrhoea johnsonii), and Casaurina in which the threatened Glossy Black-Cockatoo often can be seen feeding. Koala can also be spotted with luck. The walk concludes with a creek crossing requiring sure-footed stepping stone selection, or a deep wade in brisk waters. The gorge itself is found a few hundred metres upstream, and can be reached by two options, another creek wade, or a tricky squeeze through an overhead hole in a cave. Whatever time of year you visit, the arrival swim is best done when you first get there!!

Cronan Creek Cascades

This 6kmwalk follows an old logging trail south from Mt Barney Lodge, and is an easy to moderate walk with good views of Mt Lindesay and Mt Earnest. (A short side trip can be made to the unmarked “Yellowpinch Lookout” via a short steep ascent, and the 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains make this little calf-burner a worthwhile detour. Care must be taken at the summit, as the 60m cliff break is unfenced.) After 30 minutes on the logging track, the first section of cool green rainforest is reached, and the light becomes softer as the overhead canopy changes. The turnoff to Peasants Ridge is ignored on the right, as this is a difficult and unmaintained mountain ascent recommended only for experienced and well prepared bushwalkers. Staying on the left-hand fork of the trail, the Cronan Creek Cascades can be found off the track to the left after approximately 40 minutes. To be really clear on where to turn off the track, be sure to ask the staff at Mt Barney Lodge.

Mt Maroon

MtBarneyWalkingStanding at 967m to the north of Mt Barney, Wahlmoorum (or sand goanna) is one of the more challenging walks that is more of a mountain expedition than a bushwalk. QPWS rates this as a Class 5 Track – in this case a difficult walk requiring a high level of fitness and experience in off-track walking. Although there is a worn foot track to follow most of the way – the trail is not constructed or maintained by QPQS, just by repeat footfall. As there is no track from the saddle to the summit, knowledge of the area and map skills apply. It is essential to prepare your knowledge base before trying this walk, so again talk to the experienced staff at Mt Barney Lodge.

Allow 6 hours, and don’t forget your camera as there are sweeping views of the Scenic Rim from most of this ridge-style walk. The higher you go, the more the surrounding agriculture, farming, bush, dams, waterways and country villages become a patchwork quilt to contemplate from afar. The silhouette of Brisbane and the peak of Mt Warning can even be seen from the summit!

Whatever walk you decide upon, remember to always check weather and QPWS website for any park alerts before leaving home. The Ipswich forecast is most like the Mt Barney weather – remember it can be blue skies over Mt Barney when a different rain system hits the Coast. “Leave No Trace” bushwalking principles should always be top-of-mind during your experience. If you are unfamiliar with what these are, please take the time to look them up so that our shared protected areas can be enjoyed for years to come.

MtBarneyGlampingCampfireMt Barney Lodge is the perfect base to plan your walks from. It is an Advanced Ecotourism retreat right at the base of Mt Barney, and many of the walks commence right from your door. There is accommodation to suit comfort and budget considerations – from camping and Glamping (glamorous camping!), to rustic huts and self-contained Queenslander Homesteads. Mt Barney Lodge also provides local knowledge on walks in the area to its accommodated guests, and sells relevant topographical maps.

Further information:
Mt Barney Lodge – www.mtbarneylodge.com.ay 5544 3233

QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service) – www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/mount-barney

Bureau of Meteorology – www.bom.gov.au/qld/forecasts/secoast.shtml

Leave No Trace Bushwalking Principles – www.lnt.org.au/documents/private/green-guide-to-bushwalking.pdf



Destiny Eco-Cottage, southeast Queensland, praised

Destiny Eco-Cottage, southeast Queensland, praised

Stunning views, unique cottages, wildlife and asses.

DestinyRedCottageTim of Eco Safaris had this to say about Destiny Eco-Cottage after visiting:

Laze on your veranda with a drop of local red, watching the pretty-faced wallabies as the sun sets over the valley” – sounds a bit like a corny advertisement, but it’s true. Destiny Boonah Eco Cottages are surrounded by National Park and have glorious views across the Scenic Rim out to the Great Dividing Range.
Destiny Boonah is run by the ever-gregarious Heike. Originally from Germany, a few years back she was travelling in Australia when she came across Boonah. Struck with the beauty of the region, in her words she ‘found her destiny’, and found a way to stay.
Heike has a passion for animals and provides a private ‘eco-tour’ around the property on her 4WD-golf-buggy-cart-like vehicle. It’s at sunset so she can tell you all about the native animals that come out to play. Various types of wallabies are common as well as echidnas, possums, various birdlife including eagles, and the newest resident – ‘Tiger’ the koala!
Destiny_viewBut Heike also has a passion for her asses with her ‘Assquestrian Centre’ (you read right). Heike is one of the good people. She saves mistreated donkeys, treats them like royalty and provides fun and educational donkey sessions for groups.
Oh yeah – the accommodation………. These cute, self-contained cottages have acquired a bunch of eco certified badges. They’re solar powered, beautifully appointed throughout, cozy, well equipped, spacious and of course, spotlessly clean. Different sized cottages are suitable for couples, families and groups.
Destiny has private walking tracks and is only minutes away from Lake Maroon & Lake Moogerah. You’re also just 7km’s to Boonah’s restaurants, shops and two great wineries. Stay 3 nights get a free wildlife tour.



Eco-friendly Lodging in Australia

Eco-friendly Lodging in Australia

By Russel Lang

(Russell, originally from Melbourne, loves to travel the world and write about the places he sees and people he meets).

If you are an ecotourist who believes in the adage, “take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints,” then you’ll be happy to know that the tourism industry is working hard to meet your needs. According to eTravel Business News, ecotourism is the fastest growing segment of tourism in the world today. In Australia, ecotourism is especially important as many of the environments you will find are distinct and contain wildlife unique to the continent.

One of the ways you can leave as little impact on the environment as possible when traveling is to stay at eco-friendly lodges. Fortunately, Australia is home to a number of environmentally-friendly resorts that are not just good for the environment but are so stunningly beautiful. You may not even realise that you are helping out Mother Nature.

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat

The O’Reilly family were pioneers of ecotourism in Australia. The family’s eponymous retreat is in the Lamington National Park in Queensland, which is famous for its beautiful rainforests and more than 500 stunning waterfalls. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (a WTA member) proudly incorporates solar and gas services for water and space heating. The resort also uses recycled materials in some of its construction. In addition, O’Reilly’s offers a free Tree Top Walk, which is approximately 180 metres in length and made up of nine suspension bridges. This Tree Top Walk is an excellent way to view the beauty of the surrounding rainforest canopy.

Photo by thinboyfatter via Wikimedia Commons

Karijini Eco Retreat

If you are looking for simple eco-friendly accommodations in West Australia, then head to the Karijini Eco Retreat. It offers several different types of facilities, including deluxe eco tents, dorm-style tents and unpowered campsites. Water is solar heated and part of your room tariff goes toward the Karijini National Park’s care and conservation. On the retreat’s website, you can find a number of drives through the North West region from the Karijini Eco Resort. Some of the amazing sites that you can visit in the area include Monkey Mia, a bay famous for its friendly dolphins, the Pinnacles as well as the stunning gorges of Karijini National Park.

Photo by Mark O’Neil via Wikimedia Commons

Before embarking on a driving adventure in the remote outback, though, make sure to have drinking water in your car, as well as excellent coverage for your auto. Even if you think you can’t afford insurance for your vehicle, remember that there are a number of driving hazards in the outback, including kangaroos and emus. Fortunately, excellent budget insurance is available so you should never have to do without.

Lady Elliot Eco Island

Because this resort is situated in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park on its own cay, you’ll be surrounded on all sides by the beautiful blue ocean. The Lady Elliot Eco Island resort uses a number of green technologies, including a hybrid power station with solar panels that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent, and also seawater desalination. If you like solitude, then you’ll enjoy your stay on Lady Elliot Eco Island as the number of visitors allowed on the cay is limited to 150 overnight guests. Another big plus at this resort? The Great Barrier Reef and loads of incredible sea life can be found just steps from your simple accommodations.

Photo by Richard Ling via Wikimedia Commons



Shooting in Conservation Areas

Shooting in Conservation Areas

I was contacted this year for a comment on control of e=feral animals by recreational shooters n conservation areas.

I agree  the control of feral animals is necessary to protect our wildlife, and that shooting is often the most selective an humane method, but it must be done with care, and I’ve seen too many unfortunate examples of shooting without the right kind of attitude or control.  Here is the link to the resultant article:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/28/control-of-feral-animals-must-not-be-a-gung-ho-sporting-activity



Green tape can be useful!

Green tape can be useful!

This is a 90-sec talk given by WTA chair Ronda Green as part of  an ‘opinion-leader’ panel at the Global Eco Asia-Pacific Congress in November 2013:
So, we’re cutting green tape and opening our national parks to ecotourism. I hate red tape. One example. was applying to trap frogs for an impact assessment and told the ethics officer I was was already identifying some by their calls. He said “Don’t tell me that – it’s not legal.’ ‘What? It’s not legal to listen to frogs?’ ‘Oh you can listen but you can’t identify them for consultancies without a permit.’ ‘But I’m not doing anything to the frogs.’ ‘Don’t expect ethics legislation to have anything to do with welfare.’ ok, so red tape, even green tape, can be infuriating and ludicrous. But half a century ago I enjoyed galloping horses through the national park, not realising the extent of the weeds and erosion. I never did like my father’s duck-shooting buddies laughing about the eagles and swans they were shooting, or seeing whole hillsides cleared of bushland for tax rebates, and was very happy when legislation stopped a lot of that. Now wildlife are facing climate change, habitat destruction for urbanisation and various industries and – please – let’s not make ecotourism one of the threats. Let’s use our knowledge, our imagination and technological advances to give our tourists wonderful experiences without increasing impacts. Some regulations do make a lot of sense. While we’re unraveling tangles of ridiculous red tape, please let’s not throw the green baby out with the bathwater
 


New book on wildlife tourism for guides, job-seekers, ecolodge staff, business start-ups etc.

Wildlife Tourism: A Handbook for Guides, Tour Operators, Job-seekers and Business Start-ups [Kindle Edition]

cover_WT

As I’m the author of this one I can’t really give a review as such, but you can take a look inside it at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HE1SX1Q The description on this page is:

This is a guide for tour operators, eco-lodge managers, wildlife park staff, students and others interested in a career in wildlife tourism or in adding a wildlife component to their tourism businesses. The emphasis and most examples are Australian, but the principles are relevant to all countries. The book is packed with information on skill-sets of tour guides,learning about wildlife, finding and observing wildlife, interpreting wildlife, interacting with tourists and colleagues, conservation issues and some of the financial and legal aspects of setting up your own business. Many references to other books, articles and websites are included.
From the Araucaria Ecotours blog:

Introducing people to wildlife and helping them appreciate their beauty, understand something of their ecology and behaviour, get curious about things we don’t yet understand, and realise some of the conservation thetas currently facing them, has been a lifelong passion. It is one of the major reasons I sarted our wildlife tourism business.

Coming more from an academic background than a business one (although I did run a holiday farm focussing on nature studies and horsemanship many years earlier), the business of starting and running a small business took me and my family into a very steep learning curve. I knew little of the red tape involved,  how much time and money was needed for advertising (or how to reduce some of that), or about book-keeping, insurance,  or working with booking agents. One of the aims of the book is to help others who may be in the same boat, starting out with loads of enthusiasm for  wildlife and sharing their enthusiasm with others, but lacking experience in running a business venture.

Others come from the other direction – they’ve been running a tourism or related business but have an interest in wildlife and want to brush up their knowledge, so there are chapters devoted to getting a grasp of the basics and leads to finding more of the sort of information you’ll need to run good tours in your locality, as well as guidelines or interpreting this to your guests.

For students and job-seekers there are guidelines on what will appeal to your prospective employers, and most of the book will be very relevant for any who seriously want to work in this field.

Most of the examples are Australian, but there is ample general advice to be applicable anywhere in the world.

Contents

1 Introduction

  • Is this book for you?

  • The big picture: does wildlife tourism matter for our economy or for conservation?

  • Not just the facts ma’am (but not ignoring them either): why good interpretation is so important

  • What this book will do for you

2. The basics

  • Skills you will need as a guide

  • Going a bit further: how to excel as a tour guide

  • Becoming self-employed as a tour operator or using your skills in other areas

3. Wildlife Skills 1: knowing the wildlife

  • Getting the ‘big picture’ of wildlife in Australia (or other countries): a good start for avoiding major errors and showing your guests what is different from their own homelands

  • Identifying wildlife: how to know what you’re looking at (or at least narrowing down the possibilities)

  • Finding out what species to expect in your district

4. Wildlife Skills 2: finding the wildlife

  • Knowing when and where to search

  • When you can’t see the wildlife: tracks, scratches, scats and sounds

5. Wildlife Skills 3: understanding the behaviour and ecology of wildlife

  • Why should you understand ecology?

  • Population ecology: why populations of animals of a particular species increase, decrease, stay the same or never enter a particular area.

  • Community ecology: interactions between species living in the same locality

  • Further notes on wildlife behaviour

6. Wildlife Skills 4: not disturbing the wildlife

  • How much disturbance can animals tolerate without changing their behaviour, avoiding you or even disappearing from the region?

  • How should we approach wildlife?

  • What happens to the wildlife you never see?

  • Feeding animals

  • Other interactions with animals

  • Wildlife habitat

7. Wider conservation issues

  • Getting it straight

  • Some threats to wildlife

  • Learning about conservation problems while still enjoying a holiday

  • Knowing the legislation.

  • Contributing positively to conservation

8. People Skills 1: Attending to customer needs and desires

  • Not making them unhappy – general etiquette

  • Making them happy – Changing customer satisfaction to customer delight

  • Dealing with problems: avoiding them if possible, acting appropriately when they do happen

  • Feedback from customers, and what to do about it

9. People Skills 2: Interpretation

  • Enjoy your creativity

  • Not a school-room: remember people want to learn but are also here to enjoy themselves

  • Clarifying your goals: what would you most like them to remember and talk about?

  • What to tell them and how to tell it: the guided walk, drive or cruise

  • What to tell them and how to tell it: the information display

  • What to tell them and how to tell it: the self-guided nature trail

  • Learning about Interpretation techniques: links to further information

  • Testing: what best holds their interest and stays in their memories?

10. People Skills 3: Workplace, networking, and public relations

  • Why network?

  • Making face-to-face networking effective

  • Keeping records

  • Social media

  • Don’t forget your customers

  • Employer/employee and workmate relations

11. Financial matters

  • Starting an ecotourism venture

  • Staying afloat through the bad times

  • Hiring yourself out as a guide

  • Keeping records and projecting costs

12. Health and Safety issues

  • Food and water

  • First aid courses and kits

  • Driving

  • Walking

  • Other modes of travel

13. Legal matters

  • Licences and permits needed for starting and running a tour business

  • Public liability – nowadays it’s risky not to have insurance, and there are some things you can’t legally do without it

  • Copyright (yours and others), slander and related topics

  • Hiring staff

  • Indigenous culture

  • Conservation legislation

14. Final note: Never-ending Learning and Innovation

  • Learning about wildlife

  • Nature interpretation and guiding techniques

  • Wildlife tourism literature

  • Market trends: keeping up to date with what your potential customers are looking for

  • Thinking creatively: it’s fun and often productive!

References and further reading



An Eco-Friendly Travel Guide to Australia

An Eco-friendly Travel Guide to Austraia

by Dustin Casey

(Dustin is a corporate travel agent who spends his free time seeing foreign lands and writing about his experiences)

To protect Australian wildlife, we must protect our environment as well. The sustainable development and survival of wildlife depends on a vibrant and thriving ecosystem (and vice versa). Whether you’re about to tour the Australian rainforest or get up close and personal with the big red kangaroo, an eco-conscious trip will help ensure that this country’s beautiful natural habitats and creatures continue to thrive. Help support wildlife conservation by participating in eco-tourism in the following ways:

Green Lodging

Green hotels are eco-friendly properties that support environment sustainability, including water conservation and energy reduction. Green practices like water-saving techniques and waste recycling programs can help preserve the natural habitats that are home to Australia’s beloved wildlife.

For example, every month in the U.S., the New Orleans InterContinental recycling program kept $1,000 worth of establishment-related materials, such as napkins and towels, out of waste streams, according to the Green Hotels Association. Similarly, a Chicago Hyatt experienced waste hauling reduction by 80 percent.

Search for hotels that are committed to using energy-saving measures such as LED light bulbs, low-energy lighting, low-flow shower heads and toilets, solar-heated amenities, composting and local food sourcing. For luxurious eco-lodging in Australia, Greenbang.com spotlights the Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa, Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island and Allawah Retreat. Explore more green hotels and eco-friendly lodgings by visiting itsagreengreenworld.com.

Illegal Trading

Town locals may attempt to illegally sell you historic artifacts, items from endangered species or even living organisms, such as flora or fauna. Not only is trading flora and fauna a risk to biodiversity, it’s an environmental crime.

The importation and exportation of exotic and native species threatens Australia’s wildlife, agriculture and ecological communities. As you explore villages, be aware of dealers who may try to sell you prohibited and restricted goods. Visit Australian Customs and Border Protection Services for more information on restricted imports, such as heritage goods from Papua New Guinea, cosmetics and even credit cards. In addition to counterfeit credit cards, thieves may target a vulnerable traveler and try to steal personal information by “shoulder surfing.” Visit Lifelock for information on shoulder surfing and other scams that could quickly end your green vacation.

Eco-Tourism Steps

Make a difference with even the smallest eco-tourism efforts:

  • Embark on your trip with the bare essentials and challenge yourself to simple day-to-day living
  • Feast on local cuisine and home-grown produce from farmers markets; in the words of Beautiful Accommodation’s Travel Blog, become a “locavore”
  • Use green transportation, such as the Indian Pacific, Ghan and XPT trains, Greyhound Australia bus or Coral Princess boat
  • Participate in cultural traditions and become immersed in local music and art; embracing and understanding a local region’s culture helps support their way of life
  • Volunteer at an orphanage, help clean up a community affected by a natural disaster or give back to local communities by donating school supplies or other basic necessities


A cuckoo feeds a juvenile

A cuckoo feeds a juvenile

Channel-billed cuckoo feeding on figs: photo Geonature

Channel-billed cuckoo feeding on figs: photo Geonature

by WTA member Ian Black of Geonature

I arrived at Hinterland Park on the Gold Coast early in the morning and could hear the Channel Billed Cuckoo’s as I pulled up into the carpark. Heading straight for the large fruiting fig tree, I found them feeding as was to be expected (right), but they took off to a big old gum tree a hundred meters away on the highest part of the ridge when they noticed me.

I followed the walking trail around to below the gum tree where one of the cuckoos was making a large ruckus and i was trying to take a few photos of the Cuckoo high in the tree when the other cuckoo returned and with great commotion fed the first bird a fig (below). This continued as i watched the adult return and with those large bills, awkwardly feed the one in the gum tree while it screamed for more.

As the Channel Billed Cuckoo is Australia’s largest brood parasite and does not raise its own young I was surprised to watch what seemed to be an adult doing just that.

See the photo of the cuckoo feeding the youngster also here on Skydrive

Channel-billed cuckoo adult feeding juvenile cuckoo

Channel-billed cuckoo adult feeding juvenile cuckoo: photo Geonature



Book Review. Nature-based Tourism and Conservation

Book Review. Nature-based Tourism and Conservation (Tisdell and Wilson)

book covrTisdell, C. and Wilson, C. 2012. Nature-based Tourism and Conservation: New Economic Insights and Case Studies, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham

Review by Ronda Green, Chair of Wildlife Tourism Australia

Ecotourism is often cited as a saviour of wildlife and their habitats, a view that is regarded with skepticism by others. In general the ideas are commendable but we often lack the necessary knowledge of local situations to effectively enhance conservation efforts as well as offering great experiences to tourists and financial gain to operators and the local community.

This volume, based on research since the turn of this century, offers valuable insights and information on the connection between nature tourism and biodiversity conservation from an economic perspective.It is an important bridging aid that should be read by all who are interested in this topic. Those more familiar with the economics of the tourism industry will gain many insights into the complexities of biodiversity conservation, and those more well-versed in conservation biology will be introduced to many aspects of the role of economics in achieving conservation aims through tourism.

Useful economics tools are described, but their limitations for particular situations are also discussed. Assumptions such as consumers always being fully informed and making rational choices for instance are not always valid. Models used for one purpose may need modifications to be used for others. Difficulties of finding answers to what would seem like simple questions are also discussed – e.g. visitation rates to World Heritage listed sites, when some of these sites cover vast areas and have multiple entry points.

The authors point out that many tourists travel to experience natural wonders and to enjoy nature in various other ways, and that such experiences can form an important part of their travel even when not the primary purpose. They ask whether the growth of nature tourism has a positive or negative effect on nature conservation, and caution from the start that there is no simple answer, a theme that is revisited multiple times throughout the work. One case discussed at some length is that of hatchery-raised sea-turtles as a combined tourism-conservation project, demonstrating that it can certainly create an economic return, but although there is potential for positive conservation outcomes, the actual conservation impact (positive or negative) depends very much on how the industry is managed in any particular region, and that there are relevant factors we don’t as yet know in sufficient detail (e.g. survival rate of young turtles hatched in the wild as opposed to those raised in hatcheries, including those kept for lengthy periods before release). A survey of the tourist activity based on turtles coming ashore to lay eggs at Mon Repos in Queensland resulted in a more favourable report for conservation, both in terms of education of visitors and of lack of adverse effects (the authors note that the turtles indeed seem to be increasing there).

An interesting point raised in the first chapter is that Birdlilfe International encourages its members to travel to demonstrate the value of bird and habit conservation. This may at first reading sound a little manipulative, but I see it more as a way of nature-lovers showing the concern they already  feel, and their support for local conservation projects, while being rewarded by an enjoyable holiday or day-trip. Bird watchers and other nature enthusiasts don’t always make it obvious that they are visiting a region (and thus spending on local products and services)  for this pleasure, and so tourism providers, travel agents and local councils may well be unaware of their reasons for being there: maybe  nature-loving tourists could develop a habit of chatting more with hotel staff, service station attendants, waiters and others!

Some of the topics are very relevant to changes happening in Australia’s legislation in the current decade, with several governments wanting to ‘open up’ national parks to increasingly more kinds of tourism activities and facilities, and to downplay the role of biodiversity conservation as opposed to recreation. A survey showed that visitors to a reserve in Far North Queensland were largely opposed  to the development of commercial services and facilities in national parks, although they mostly favoured guided tours within national parks. World Heritage values are hailed in the book as important for national pride in natural areas, and enhancing protection by the federal government. Recent proposed changes to our legislation may see a watering down of the ability of federal government to intervene in matters related to World Heritage, and to the de-listing of some sites.

Conservation costs money, and the concept of national parks making money to be used for conservation management is essentially sound, but the details of how to do so are problematic. Increasing the tourism dollar may not have to depend on introducing more 4WD, horse-riding and accommodation into our national parks. The book points to  a number of opportunities as yet under-utilised, such as more provision for the under-supplied and growing demand for opportunities for sea-bird viewing, and possibilities for insect-based tourism such as butterfly- or fire-fly watching. The authors also present findings on surveys on willingness of visitors to pay for entry into national parks: opposition to the idea includes a feeling that ‘nature should be free’,  that charging for national park entry makes it a more elitist  activity, and that proceeds from those that do charge entry fees go into general government revenue rather than specifically towards conservation management.

Contributions to local economies is an essential component of ecotourism, and also provides incentives to local government to protect natural areas. Research discussed in the book shows where this is well established and places where it is not (for instance the lack of local restaurants and souvenir shops near natural attractions such as glow worm sites).

There are many examples where tourism is contributing to conservation either directly or indirectly, or has a real potential for doing so. There are other cases such as tree-kangaroo viewing in Far North Queensland where group sizes need to be small and the activity is labour-intensive for the guide and to some extent for the tourists themselves, where the tourism dollar is thus currently insufficient to pay for conservation, and government assistance is necessary. The very title of the tree-kangaroo chapter suggests that more revenue could perhaps be raised if the species became more famous amongst tourists. Doubtless there are many other species that could achieve more tourist demand, but many others that never will, and will always need additional sources of revenue.

The concluding remark by the authors in the final chapter is that “Nature-based tourism should not be regarded as a substitute for other policy measures designed to sustain wild biodiversity, but it can be a useful supplement to such efforts.”

The chapters are as follows, and even a casual lance shows what a wide range of topics are addressed:

Part I: Background

1. An Overview of Nature-based Tourism and Conservation

2. The Growing Importance of Nature-based Tourism: Its Evolution and Significant Policy Issues

3. The User-Pays Principle and Conservation in National Parks: Review and Australian Case Study

Part II: Tourism, Protected Areas and Nature Conservation

4. World Heritage Listing of Australian Natural Sites: Effects on Tourism, Economic Value and Conservation

5. Antarctic Tourism: Environmental Concerns and the Importance of Antarctica’s Natural Attractions for Tourists

6. Rainforest Tourists: Wildlife and Other Features Attracting Visitors to Lamington National Park, Australia

7. Are Tourists Rational? Destination Decisions and Other Results from a Survey of Visitors to a North Queensland Natural Site – Jourama Falls

8. A Case Study of an NGO’s Ecotourism Efforts: Findings Based on a Survey of Visitors to its Tropical Nature Reserve

Part III: Particular Wildlife Species or Groups of Species as Tourist Attractions

9. Tourism as a Force for Conserving Sea Turtles Under Natural Conditions

10. The Role of Open-cycle Hatcheries Relying on Tourism in Sea Turtle Conservation: A Blessing or a Threat?

11. Whale-Watching as a Tourism Resource and as an Impetus for the Conservation of Whales

12. Little Penguins and Other Seabirds as Tourist Drawcards

13. Yellow-eyed Penguins and Royal Albatross as Valuable Tourist Attractions

14. Glow-worms and Other Insects Entice Tourists

15. Tree-Kangaroos, Tourism and Conservation: A Study of a Little-known Species

Part IV: This Study in Retrospect

16. General Conclusions

Where to purchase the book (or ask your library to do so)?

A couple of options are Google (a e-book option is by far the cheapest) and the Book Depository