Robots to the ResQu for Australia’s Rainforests

Robotics researchers at CSIRO, in partnership with Biosecurity Queensland, have succcessfully designed and trialed two autonomous helicopters, developed to detect threatening weed species in Australia’s rare and precious rainforests.

The project, dubbed Project ResQu, has executed trials in the El Arish Rainforest near Cairns, successfully detecting and mapping weed growth in remote areas otherwise inaccessible by man. The trial located growth of a number of noxious weeds, including Miconia Calvescens (or the ‘purple plague’) that had not previously been noticed in areas deep within the dense rainforest. The detection of these areas of growth has allowed for early intervention, and the weeds will be removed.

The new sophisticated imaging technology will make locating weeds faster and more reliable than ever, allowing for early eradication before they can cause irreversible damage to our native plant and wildlife populations.

CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship Science Director, Dr Gary Fitt, said “In the biosecurity space effective surveillance is critical – we need to be able to detect incursions quickly and accurately. Technologies like the autonomous helicopter or other autonomous platforms provide us with another tool in the fight against these biological invasions […] The helicopters can navigate obstacles without human control while recording locations and images for biosecurity staff to scan for evidence of weeds.”

Queensland Science Minister Ian Walker said the robotic helicopter played a key role in protecting native flora from weeds, offering a money saving approach to boosting biosecurity and carrying out more effective mapping.

About Project ResQu:
Project ResQu is a two-year, $7M project led by the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) in a collaborative project between the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), CSIRO, Boeing and Insitu Pacific with the support of the Queensland State Government Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts. Find out more here.

Congratulations to Segway Tours South Coast for achieving Ecotourism Certification

Congratulations to Segway Tours South Coast who have been recognised for their sustainability efforts – achieving Ecotourism certification.

Segway Tours South Coast operate on the New South Wales South Coast, in spectacular locations near Berry, Jervis Bay, Kiama and Batemans Bay. Open seven days a week, they provide tours and events for families, couples, work teams, wedding parties, adventure seekers and social groups.

Ecotourism CertifiedJoin an exhilarating guided tour on a Segway PT and experience the natural and cultural beauty of the South Coast in a truly unique way. Explore forest trails, rolling hills, vineyards, wetlands, beaches and wildlife while gliding across the landscape.

Segway Tours South Coast also offer exciting Segway Games and fun Segway Rides- perfect for groups. There is an option for everyone from an easy glide to more challenging team activities. Events can also be held at any suitable location.

Segways are a self-balancing, two-wheeled, electric vehicle that are extremely manoeuvrable, easy to learn, intuitive to operate and fun to ride. Suitable for riders aged 10 years up and weighing 45 kg to 117 kg.  All training and equipment is provided.

For more information on Segway Tours South Coast, click here

For more information about Ecotourism Australia’s ECO certification program, click here

To find out more about the NSW South Coast, click here

Ecotourism Australia Representation At IORA Dialogue Event For Women’s Empowerment

Last month our Operations Manager, Emily, represented Ecotourism Australia at the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Dialogue Event for Paths to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Tourism and Textiles businesses.

The event was held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Nations Development Program, and IORA at the Park Royal Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and brought together representatives from all twenty IORA member nations; nearly 100 participants sharing their unique and inspiring experiences.

The purpose of the event was to promote women’s economic empowerment as a key element of broader economic growth and to establish several key principles, actions and acknowledgements to push to IORA Ministers. Tourism and textiles were of central focus as two industries with a high level of female representation. For tourism in particular, economies are transforming from manufacturing to service industries with tourism predicted to account for 1 in every 10 jobs by 2022 globally, contributing a crucial source of national identity and foreign revenue. Key messages included the need for:

– Investment in vocational, industry-based training and education;
– Promotion of national cultural identity to promote self, product and place;
– Building a picture of the lived reality of women in IORA states through collection and dissemination of gender disaggregated data;
– Adoption of an IORA framework for responsible tourism;
– Social empowerment through acknowledgement of the complex interaction of gender roles, responsibilities & norms on women’s economic empowerment.

The event offered a unique opportunity to be involved in idea formation and contribute to dialogue intended to be presented to our Ministers. Emily found the event to be an incredibly valuable experience, she and the rest of the team at EA are interested to see how key points will be addressed.

A full report on the event outcomes will be released in the coming weeks.

(Pictured: Emily with Natasha Stott Despoja AM, Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls)

EcoTreasures new initiative to clean up penguin habitats

EcoTreasures, a young tour company based in Sydney, have incorporated an initiative into their Manly Coastal Walks to remove marine debris from penguin habitats.

The tour company specialises in Ecotourism experiences on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and within Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, New South Wales. EcoTreasures have been lucky to host a range of international study tour students visiting Sydney this winter, who have been participating in the initiative. The students arrive in Australia for short stays of generally 7-14 days, which consist of English lessons and Australian tour experiences. EcoTreasures owner, Damien McClellan, has been happy to host the students on his tours and to incorporate a new element into the half-day adventure, with a purpose to clean up marine debris that accumulates in the natural environment known to be a prime habitat for Little Penguins.

Mr McClellan has been very proud to run these tours, which highlight a range of environmental awareness messages, and mentions, “when we visit the little penguin habit at Collins Beach in Sydney Harbour National Park we conduct a beach clean-up. The students always put in 110% and we remove as much marine debris from the catchment as possible. We are all giving back to the location we are appreciating for it’s natural beauty, and I’m proud of all these international guests caring for Australia’s environment.”

The tours offer a great display of Sydney’s natural setting right on the city’s door step. Mr McClellan also adds “the students and teachers really enjoy their experience on the walk around Manly, we visit the beach, Sydney Harbour National Park, Cabbage tree Aquatic reserve and Manly suburbs all in a half day adventure. We always keep the walk fun and engaging by identifying native plants & searching for Whales from land with binoculars and other wildlife along the way”.

EcoTreasures was founded in 2010 by Damien McClellan, the business is looking forward to working with more partners in the future, developing new ecotourism initiatives for a range of target markets, and keeping it fun is part of the plan. EcoTreasures is Advanced Ecotourism and ROC certified.

For more information on EcoTreasures, please click here.