An interesting seminar to be hosted by the University of Sydney next month

16 June, 2014

This is a Free Event.
RSVP Essential

Seminar Featuring John Miller and Robert McKay 


From their website:

To whom does extinction matter, why, and how? Answers to these questions often rely on a principle of concealed usefulness. In this outlook, biodiversity represents a vast data bank of genetic information that contains an array of undiscovered possibilities for medicine or industry. A striking contrast to this hard-nosed, market-driven approach resides in the emotional attachment to certain species, or to the natural world more generally, that motivates many conservation campaigns. Such reasoning, though widely on show, has the disadvantage of appearing vague, sentimental and under-theorized. What it highlights is the urgent need for a humanities perspective on the question of biodiversity loss as a key part of the global challenge of responding to climate change.

3 Simple Ways You Can Support Wildlife Conservation at Home

3 Simple Ways You Can Support Wildlife Conservation at Home

by guest wrier Jessica Grospitch

Jessica is dedicated to sustainability and loves to share her eco-friendly initiatives.

You may already donate to wildlife charities and support eco-tourism, but there are some changes you can make in your day-to-day life to help local wildlife and the environment. Home upgrades such as solar panels, energy-saving appliances, green construction practices and other earth-friendly solutions are excellent, but they’re also expensive and time-consuming. While these are good goals for homeowners to work toward, you can begin making these simple changes today.

Home Decor

Think about where your furniture and decor come from, and furnish your home with wildlife and the environment in mind. Deforestation and pollution are major problems that are partially caused by logging to make furniture and other wood supplies. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, around 18 million acres of forest are lost each year to deforestation. ConservationBytes.com reports that Australia has lost 38 percent of its forest coverage since European settlement (that’s 1.5 times the size of Tasmania). Only 15 percent of forests in Australia are currently protected, and 132 of plant and animal species in the Adelaide region have gone extinct since 1836. Forests and natural land provide homes to animals and are important to our delicate ecosystem.

Search for home items that are made from sustainable materials, like bamboo or recycled materials. Wayfair.com.au features many brands that use recycled materials and environmentally friendly manufacturing practices, including Nova Solo, Australia Matting and Raki. Be sure to research any company before buying a new product, so you know exactly where it came from. You can also buy secondhand furniture and decor, repurposed pieces and items made from recycled material or reclaimed wood. Not only are these stylish options, but they cut down on waste that fills our landfills and harms the habitats of endangered wildlife.

Updating Lighting and Saving Energy

Traditional florescent, incandescent and even CFL light bulbs either contain mercury or produce it in their coal factories. When mercury enters the atmosphere, it can be dangerous for humans and wildlife. According to the U.S.’s Natural Resources Defense Council, the fluorescent tubes you see in offices, schools and hospitals contain up to 100 mg of mercury each. These traditional bulbs also use more energy and need to be thrown out more often, creating waste hazards.

LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs not only produce a small fraction of the mercury that incandescent bulbs do, but they reduce energy use and waste. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED lights use 75 percent less energy and last at least 25 times as long as standard incandescent bulbs. They also produce very little heat, which saves on cooling costs. Completely switching your home to LED lighting can take some time, but it will save money and energy in the long run.

Create a Wildlife-Friendly Backyard

Many species of native Australian wildlife are threatened by loss of habitat. No matter how large your outdoor space is, keep local wildlife in mind when landscaping and gardening. Providing water and shelter is the most important part of making your yard wildlife-friendly. Consider what kind of animals are native to your region when landscaping.

Photo by Drs via Wikimedia Commons

The South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources offers some guiding principles for creating a wildlife-friendly outdoor space, including:

  • Use native plants that range in height. Trees and bushes that grow abundantly in your area will provide natural cover for native animals.
  • Use a variety of flowers, and choose types that bloom in different seasons. Having flowers year-round will attract birds, bees and other pollinators and provide food for other animals.
  • Monitor your pets. If you have outdoor pets like dogs and cats, keep them away from your wildlife area. Cats, of course, hunt birds, lizards and insects, while dogs can damage habitats by digging and urinating—and both may scare away birds and other animals.
  • Don’t use chemicals in your lawn and garden care. Use nontoxic, natural solutions when trying to control weeds, pets and fungus. Not only can the chemicals harm your animal visitors, but they can run into water sources and pollute a larger area than just your yard. Attract birds and helpful insects to minimize harmful pests and pull weeds by hand.

Wildlife Tourism Workshop in Sydney, November 2014

Wildlife tourism and conservation of biodiversity in parks

Download a flyer here: workshopflyer_printversion

Viewing a king parrot in Lamington National Park near O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat, photo by Araucaria Ecotours

Viewing a king parrot in Lamington National Park near O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, photo by Araucaria Ecotours

This workshop is a parallel event of the World Parks Congress, and will be held the day before the  Congress begins

2.00 – 5.00pm, 11 November 2014, meet in the foyer on the ground floor of Office of Environment and Heritage at 59 Goulburn Street (a short walk from Central Station, Sydney)

How to get there

See http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/whoweare/travel.htm

If coming from Olympic Park (venue for World Parks Congress) visit http://www.sydneyolympicpark.com.au/maps/getting-to-the-park).

This event is a half-day workshop organised jointly by Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc. and the Office of Environment and Heritage, New South Wales.

All welcome, no cost, but please RSVP by 31 October. Light refreshments will be available for afternoon tea. There will be an optional networking lunch and/or dinner (at own cost) in nearby restaurant/s – details TBA.

Topics will be briefly presented, and delegates will discuss the following questions in groups of up to 8 participants, then all will come together in a final plenary discussion to share ideas and information.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • how can we ensure the conservation of biodiversity as more people flock to our national parks, expecting new kinds of activities and facilities (e.g. accommodation within the parks)
  • how can we best use both old and new technologies for low-impact wildlife viewing that will delight the visitor and enhance understanding of wildlife behaviour and ecology?
  • under what circumstances should interaction with wildlife be allowed within or near parks?
  • what research is most urgently needed in the next five to ten years to ensure adequate conservation of biodiversity, and how can Wildlife Tourism Australia’s research network best contribute to this?
Shingleback skink, Currawinya National Park. Photo Araucaria Ecotours

Shingleback skink, Currawinya National Park. Photo Araucaria Ecotours

These topics will be especially relevant to the WPC theme of “Reaching Conservation Goals,” with some overlap with most other streams. It is anticipated that at least some of the delegates at this event will also be attending WPC, and these discussions will help crystallise some ideas on problems and potential solutions concerning wildlife and tourism in parks, to be further discussed during the Congress.


Relevant websites:



  • Dr Ronda J Green, Chair, Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc. (also proprietor of Araucaria Ecotours and Adjunct Research Fellow at Environmental Futures, Griffith University. Email: chair@wildlifetourismaustralia.org.au Ph 07 55441283 or 0447 077725
  • Dr Isabelle Wolf, Research and Analysis Officer, Customer Experience Division, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Office of Environment and Heritage; Adjunct Associate Lecturer, Centre of Ecosystem Science, University of New South Wales Emailisabelle.wolf@environment.nsw.gov.au Ph 02 9585 6672

Logo Parallel Partner IUCN WPC Logo SMALL

wta-logo-b                            NSWParks_logo

Turn a Passion for the Great Outdoors Into an EcoTourism Career

Turn a Passion for the Great Outdoors Into an EcoTourism Career

by Jessica Grospitch

Jessica is dedicated to sustainability and loves to share her eco-friendly initiatives.

The flora and fauna of Australia have a uniqueness that separates them from every other taxonomy of the entire world. Some 80 percent of all plants and animals living in the Land Down Under cannot be found in any other part of the planet, making ecotourism in Australia a viable industry that attracts millions from near and far each year. When you have a passion for conservation and keeping endangered animals from becoming harmed by human presences, how can you turn your interests into a lifelong career? Here are some starting pointers:

Begin as a Volunteer

Just as you can become a CEO of a major corporation by first interning on the ground floor, so too do you get valuable experience and contacts by volunteering for an environmental or animal care organization on the path to an ecotourism career. Volunteers have an advantage over interns in that they can quickly progress to a career path, and are under no scrutiny from Fair Work for their services, as Abc.net.au points out. Volunteer with a zoo, a conservation effort, or a scientific survey and you may get to head out into the wild and experience nature close-up. You can hone skills valuable in ecotourism, like explaining concepts and helping to lead others, while you’re volunteering. WildlifeTourism.org.au has an extensive list of resources for anyone interested in wildlife and eco-tourism jobs, including volunteer opportunities, internships for students or full-time positions.

Educate Yourself

The Australian ecosystem has a great deal of nuances and subtleties that defy easy categorization. For example, the saltwater crocodile lives on the northern coast of the entire continent, but can survive as far as 100 kilometers inland away from the ocean and primary feeding grounds, according to AustralianFauna.com. Any person interested in a career involving animals, conservation, and ecotourism should have a strong scientific background in biology, anatomy, food chains and climate. Students thinking about career paths can plan ahead by looking at accreditation options for animal studies. Penn Foster is one resource that has information about how to earn a license to become a vet tech associate. Another great resource to have is the Wildlife Tourism Handbook e-book for anyone interested in the business, available on Amazon. In veterinary medicine, it’s important to be able to quickly find work upon graduation. Once you have a degree in hand, you can work with animals ranging from 15-foot crocs to pint-sized pets.

Manage People, Manage Ecosystems

Sometimes the best way to find a job working with animals lies in job skills working with humans. After all, every scientist that plunges into the rainforest needs a project manager in order to find funding, plan for the expedition, and help communicate the findings. Working on people skills lets you choose a career path in managing everything from wildlife trusts to tourist excursions, the latter of which can help you to lead any of the six million tourists who visit Australia annually, as the Sydney Morning Herald points out. Whether you’d prefer to work with a small team to find the last known members of a species or you’d rather introduce visitors to cuddly koalas, a career with animals is never less than thrilling. Brush up on leadership skills like public speaking, motivation, planning, and conflict resolution in order to position yourself into a career where you can be calling the shots.


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.


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:


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