Green tick for strategy for visitors

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Cape-to-Cape Catchments Group chair Boyd Wykes with Fisheries' Justin King, Hairy Marron Cafe owner Paul Isles and Fisheries scientist Rodney Duffy.
Camera IconCape-to-Cape Catchments Group chair Boyd Wykes with Fisheries' Justin King, Hairy Marron Cafe owner Paul Isles and Fisheries scientist Rodney Duffy. Credit: Warren Hately

Conservation spokesman Boyd Wykes has welcomed the Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association’s foray into the environment, saying the new nature-based tourism strategy will help the region.

Dr Wykes commended the practical outcomes identified by the MRBTA and said improving the visitor experience went hand-in-hand with better environmental outcomes.

“Our environment is at the heart of everything that is special about the Margaret River region,” he said.

“Our community must welcome visitors as contributors, not threats to our societal wellbeing.”

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The MRBTA strategy commits to concerns about environmental decline in the context of the region’s long history of human settlement and development.

“As a consequence, our environment faces significant issues,” the new report said.

“Threats to our biodiversity such as environmental weeds, pests and disease and species decline as a result of habitat destruction and fragmentation.

“There is no doubt the region's environment is coming under increasing pressures.

“Population growth for the region is forecast to be high, with the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River forecast to increase to 25,000, and the City of Busselton forecast to increase to 50,000 in the next 10 years.

“This growth brings with it increased urban development and the many associated pressures on our special natural environment.”

Dr Wykes said just like the Cape-to-Cape Catchment Group’s intention to refocus on advocacy for the region, the MRBTA “must promote a nature conservation culture that is more than just about responding to threats”.

“To instil a conservation ethic throughout our community, we need to be on the front foot in making our natural assets the focus of our region, not just a backdrop to be reactively protected while doing something potentially at odds with conserving our values,” he said.

Common Ground owner and MRBTA board member David Willcox said it was great to see how the association “not only highlights the inextricable link between the environment, community and tourism for our region, but articulates how outcomes for each can be strengthened through a partnership approach”.

“This is exactly the kind of forward thinking a lot of people were hoping for when the single local tourism organisation was touted, and the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association was born,” he said.

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