Walking the Eco Talk

It’s the biggest dilemma in environmental tourism: how not to destroy what you’ve come to enjoy. People learn to appreciate and value the natural world when they experience it; but creating  infrastructure and hosting visitors potentially puts ecologies at risk. Coral

Eco-tourism might sound like the answer – carefully minimising human impacts on wild places.  But how do you know if a so-called “eco-lodge” is as environmentally friendly as its advertising makes out? In Australia, the answer’s simple: accreditation.

Eco_ceritifed_advanced_tourism_800x450A-TAAL-Logo4

Ecotourism Australia is a non-profit organisation which aims to inspire environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism. According to Ecotourism Australia:

“Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation”.

Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation is awarded to Australia’s most innovative tours, attractions, cruises and accommodation – those that lead the way in contributing to the conservation of the environment, and helping local communities.

To learn how a business achieves Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation, I visited Bloomfield Lodge in the Daintree rainforest. Nowhere else in the world do two World Heritage sites sit side by side: the Lodge is surrounded by the Daintree Rainforest, with the Great Barrier Reef just across the bay. Eco-friendly practices are vital here, and Bloomfield Lodge sets a high standard of thoughtful, sustainable resource management.

aerial view of Bloomfield Lodge small

Power

Due to limited space, solar power isn’t viable yet for the whole Lodge, though it’s used to heat the pool and run the phone system. Energy use is managed as efficiently as possible by employing energy-efficient light bulbs, and path lights with movement sensors. The main Lodge lights are turned off at night. The accommodation has been carefully designed to take advantage of the natural shade provided by the rainforest canopy, and to capture sea breezes, so there’s no need for air conditioning. Breezy veranda small

Veranda view I small

Emissions

Emissions are monitored using a calculator provided by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Vehicles and vessels are serviced regularly to maintain optimal fuel efficiency. Vessels use low-emission four-stroke outboard motors. Guests are encouraged to offset their travel emissions through organisations such as Climate Friendly, and to support tourism operators who have achieved Ecotourism Australia accreditation.

Water

Bloomfield Lodge isn’t connected to mains water. Water is provided by eight rainwater tanks with a capacity of 500,000 litres. Additional water is drawn from an onsite bore, with a licence issued by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM).

Pool area Bloomfield Lodge midday smallGardens are mulched and managed so that no irrigation is required. In a recent refit of bathrooms, low-flow showers, dual toilet flush and tap aerators have been installed. Guests are asked to conserve water where possible. Linen is changed at guests’ request only, to minimise unnecessary washing.

Recycling

The Lodge has a policy of recycling everything that can be recycled. Kitchen scraps are composted, garden matter is mulched. Glass, cans, plastic, and printer cartridges are recycled through the appropriate channels. Old newspapers go to the Young Animal Protection Society for animal bedding. The Lodge reduces paper consumption wherever possible: key marketing activities are conducted online. Outgoing emails carry a no-print email footer, and the office uses recycled paper.

Cleaning

Bathroom I smallerBloomfield Lodge uses environmentally-friendly cleaning products which are compatible with the waste water treatment system. Spa and pool water treatments are chlorine-free and environmentally safe.

Flora

Rainforest walks are restricted to narrow trails, clearly marked. Visitors on walks are usually accompanied by a guide, who provides education about native flora and fauna. Guides are deeply protective of the environment, and encourage guests to be sensitive to their surroundings at all times.

Tree with purple flowers smallerRainforest bridge

Fauna

Lodge staff play an active role in monitoring change and the general health of the Great Barrier Reef, reporting anything unusual to the Marine Park Authority. All touring, fishing, snorkelling and whale-watching activities are carried out in line with Great Barrier Reef zoning regulations and relevant codes of practice.

Green turtleGuest education

The guides are thoroughly informed and entertaining presenters, and the library is well-stocked with reference books should guests wish to enquire more deeply into specific environmental questions. Guests can also choose to support the local Turtle Conversation facility. It’s the aim of Bloomfield Lodge that all visitors leave with a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural environment, and how to protect it.

Guide on rainforest walkLandscape darter medium

www.bloomfieldlodge.com.au

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About andreabaldwin

I'm a freelance writer, publishing travel articles and features. I also write short fiction and novels for adults, young adults and children. I've been a registered psychologist for 20 years, and my past careers have included clinical psychology, organisational psychology, and management. I'm interested in the interactions between people and places, particularly how the natural environment supports the health of individuals and communities, and the importance of caring for our environment. I'm also interested in the ways people use writing to better understand their own thoughts and feelings, and to connect with others.
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2 Responses to Walking the Eco Talk

  1. Hans Dauncey says:

    Yup, we’ve noticed plenty of places using the ‘eco’ tag with nothing to really distinguish them from your run of the mill caravan park. It dilutes the marketing potential of places that really try hard to tick all the boxes.

  2. Hi Hans, yes, you’re absolutely right. What I love about these guys is how committed the staff are to the place, how much they know about the flora and fauna there, and how they’re genuinely and energetically always trying to find ways to do things in a more environmentally-friendly way.

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