Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association environmental custodians of region's attractions

Lake Cave is one attraction managed by the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, which carry out conservation work to preserve the site. Image supplied.

Lake Cave is one attraction managed by the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, which carry out conservation work to preserve the site. Image supplied.

Conserving the environment in and around some of the region's most popular tourism attractions is at the core of everything the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association's (MRBTA) asset and environment team do.

The team act as custodians of Forest Adventure, the caves and lighthouses scattered along the Capes coastline earning them an accreditation in advanced eco-tourism.

MRBTA asset and environment manager Mark Delane said the critical thing for them was that in the past their focus was on the visitor experience.

Rusty burning at Lake Cave. Image supplied.

Rusty burning at Lake Cave. Image supplied.

"In the last five years we have swung that around and the focus is now on the whole precinct at each of those sites," he said.

"We are doing a lot of work visitors will never see but we know we are improving the sites whether it is weed management or re-vegetation.

"There is a really strong focus on conservation of flora and fauna, and fire management.

"Our driving force has become cultural, social and environmental aspects, the economic outcome is a benefit of that. We have certainly swung the tide."

Mr Delane said given how lucky we were to be surrounded by rich natural resources they saw themselves as stewards and custodians of the areas in their care.

"We don't own them, they are vested in us, but we want to make sure that we do our best to manage them," he said.

"There is a growing expectation among the people who come here and from the people who live here that the environment, climate change, sustainability, biodiversity and all those things are held more importantly than profit.

"We are a not-for-profit organisation, if we can get that social connection right then people want to come and experience what we are doing."

Globally, Mr Delane said, volunteer tourism, wanting to seek unique experiences or giving back had become popular among travellers.

"People want to be engaged in that process, they don't want to be shown something they want to be a part of it," he said.

"While we are not saying, come and run a tour or clean a cave, we are doing those things that show people we really care about our sites.

"Past management would break off cave formations as souvenirs, which was accepted.

"We have changed that culture and don't want it, we want people to see that we value those things and they are in good hands.

"There is a social license to operate in that manner."

With international and domestic visitors still restricted from travelling to the region during the pandemic, Mr Delane encouraged residents to checkout the attractions in their own backyards.

"We are promoting that and running a social media campaign, we are really keen on having local visitors come back," he said.

"While the caves don't change a lot and are millions of years old, they are a treasure and something we want people to share and enjoy."

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This story Tourism working to conserve the region's environment first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.