Guiding in the Gorge: from left is Gerry Collins (Savannah Guide,
Undara Experience) John Clarkson (Qld Dept. of Environment), Ross
Hynes (CRC) and Simon Terry (site interpreter and manager, Cobbold
Land-use management planning for outback properties is becoming
another part of the job for a growing network of professional
ecotourism guides throughout northern Australia.
This enterprising group, known as the Gulf Savannah Guides,
provides guiding services with a strong environmental focus at 20
sites across the huge gulf savanna region which stretches across
Queensland and the Northern Territory.
With land management planning skills for the guides becoming
increasingly important, Tropical Savannas CRC recently conducted a
land-use planning workshop.
It brought together approximately 30 guides and site interpreters
at Cobbold Gorge, one of the interpretation sites, located in the
Einasleigh Uplands region of North Queensland.
The workshop recognised an important and relatively new concept in
Australia: that private enterprise can successfully manage highly
valued conservation areas.
It covered several key elements in land management processes, such
as the development of strategic land management plans, how to
prepare guidelines for park site management and how to conduct
environmental impact assessment.
The workshop also included a practical group planning exercise to
produce a draft land management plan for the Cobbold Gorge Site.
Workshop facilitator and deputy director of the CRC, Dr Ross Hynes,
led the group through issues such as site management goals, a
sustainable management philosophy, and description of the
environment and potential impacts.
Dr Hynes also assisted with the development of a one-year
operational plan for the site, identifying aims, stakeholders,
monitoring and performance indicators, communication needs and
projects for best practice site management and interpretation.
"The desired outcome of this process is a well managed,
commercially viable nature-based tourism and educational
enterprise," said Dr Hynes. "The draft plan also provides a
template in preparing similar plans for other interpretation sites
across the Gulf Savannas."
Operations such as the Savannah Guides demonstrate how private
conservation management and associated nature-based tourism
enterprises provide an important complementary approach to
The non-tenured conservation agreement provisions of the Queensland
Nature Conservation Act (1992) can help provide a range of options
for this trend towards privately run conservation areas.
They provide flexible pathways for government agencies to negotiate
fair and equitable arrangements with landholders regarding
off-reserve conservation - such as nature refuges and coordinated
conservation areas. Tropical Savannas CRC seeks to play a
facilitating role in this important but sensitive process.
A follow-up working session was held at the October Savannah Guides
school at Adel's Grove near Lawn Hill National Park to consolidate
these site planning processes.
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