Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Queensland Austrailia

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Queensland Austrailia

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Steve White, Environmental Manager: What are we  doing today is this, we're going to look at what   sustainable tourism is, what Skyrail is, and what  the product is, what our values are as a company,   how and why we do that, okay? And the social,  environmental, and economic impacts that the   business has, but also our initiatives that  try and keep that as sustainable as we can.   All right? So, that's what I'm going to talk  about. But like I said, please stop me anytime. So, sustainable tourism, lots of definitions  of it, but the most basic one is to meet the   needs of the present without compromising the  needs of future generations. I'm sure you've   probably heard that at all, all before. But to  do that, we've got to take into consideration   the environmental impact that we're having, the  social impact and benefits that we can create,   and the economic obviously. If we're not  making money, we don't get to run. So,  

we holistically look at that at Skyrail. I'll  talk about what Skyrail's values are in a second,   but the owner of this business, 28 years ago,  sustainable tourism wasn't such a big thing   back then. It was just build it and they will  come, sort of thing. But he was big, sorry,   the family was big on those three principles.  So, I'll talk about what we're doing to try   and improve social, especially social and  environmental initiatives locally. All right. What should operators do? So, we're in  the tourism business Cairns used to,   before COVID, let's forget about COVID  for a minute. We were the fourth biggest   airport in Australia for international  tourists and it was almost solely on   sustainable tourism or tourism initiatives.  So, we've got the Great Barrier Reef here,  

which I know you've all enjoyed a couple of  days ago. We've got the world wet tropics,   world Heritage Rainforest, which  you're about to experience today. And with that, we've got a whole lot of other  produce and things like that that we produce,   but it really is a tourism town. Okay, so  Cairns was built actually 120 years ago,   port Douglas. I don't know if anyone's have you  been up to Port Douglas? Little town, 50 km north   of us, only a couple of thousand people. It  was the main hub of far North Queensland,  

but Cairns took off because they built a  railway up onto the table lands and that   allowed people to access gold and timber. Okay? So, Cairns was a tiny little base and then it   boomed because of the railway. And then  in the 1980s, the Japanese, especially,   had direct flights into Cairns and that's when  the international airport started and we had   a lot of Japanese investment along with  the Australian government and built what   you see as Cairns today. So, if you take all  of the I know they're not high, high rises,   but if you take all of the multi story buildings  away from the esplanade, before the 1980s, there   was nothing like that. Okay. So, I guess what  I'm saying is Cairns is fairly recent into the   tourism game, but now that the Great Barrier Reef  and this rainforest has World Heritage status,   it's really boomed. And when you get on  the cable way, have a look to your north. All of those houses that you will see  didn't exist 20, 25 years ago. Okay. So,  

it was a very sleepy tropical town that's turned  into an international fourth biggest in Australia   international tourism hub. So, everyone that  wants to do backpacking or spend a bit of time,   they either fly into Melbourne or Sydney and fly  out of here, or they fly into Cairns and fly out   of Melbourne or Sydney, because it's a fantastic  sort of one way route down the coast. So,   because we're in that environment, that's  where they decided to build this cableway.

What should we be doing? We should be  protecting the natural environment,   obviously, conserving heritage and biodiversity.  I'll tell you all about our biodiversity soon.   Contribute to intercultural understanding. We  are right now in the middle of Djabugay country. Djabugay are the cultural people of this land  and have been here for 60,000 years plus. So,   it's the oldest continually surviving culture in  the world. They have so much to give to us. We are  

only just scratching the surface at making use  of that knowledge. Okay, so I don't know if you   know about the history of European settlement in  Australia, but it hasn't been a pretty one for a   lot of reasons. You know, progress. We're known as  a lucky country and Europeans have made a really   good fist of it since they've moved over here, me  being one of them. It's a fantastic place to live,   but we have left the Aboriginal Torres Strait  Islander story behind. Djabugay people have so   much to give to us and this company is committed  to learning more and two way street, you know,   talking about Djabugay and learning more  about the rainforest here, but also giving   back and providing opportunities for  the local Djabugay people too. So,  

we need to contribute to that understanding,  otherwise we're not doing our job properly. Obviously, we need to provide an  economic benefit for the local   community. A meaningful experience. Hopefully  you'll have a great time this morning. A high   level of visitor satisfaction promote  sustainability. So not just do it,   but actually teach people that it's really  important so that when everyone visits here,   when they walk away, they've got a  reason to contribute themselves. Okay. And that's just the definition of  sustainability at the bottom. Work hard  

to make sure that visitors tomorrow get the same  experience or even a better one. All right? So,   that's what our view of what sustainable  tourism should be doing. I'm going to provide   some examples about what we do. We're not perfect,  we make mistakes. We're still learning as we go. If you want to challenge anything I'm saying,  please do, because we're learning as much   as everyone else in the industry. So, what's  Skyrail? What are you about to do? Do you know   much about what you're about to experience?  No. Okay. Do you know what the cave way is? It's just like think of a ski gondola in Colorado,  maybe. It's exactly that, but we go over the  

rainforest. It's one of the only ones in the world  that goes over a forest rather than ski fields   or as a transport in a city. So, it was really  unique. It goes for seven and a half kilometers. So, we are at Smithfield. You're about to  go on a 15 minutes ride up to Red Peak,  

which is up at 595 meters above sea level.  So that is 1800ft, something like that. So,   it's not a massive mountain, but  it's enough to change elevation. So,   we've got a completely different rainforest  community than what we get down in the bottom.

Okay, so go up there, you'll have a guided  option of a guided ranger tour. Up there,   we have a boardwalk completely raised off the  forest floor so that we don't impact the ground   there. Then we've got a 20 minutes ride to  Barron Falls or Dindin Falls, and then there's   a spectacular waterfall, especially in the wet  season. At the moment, it's a bit of a trickle,   but it's still spectacular. And then  you've got a ten minute ride to Kuranda. Kuranda is a very small village right at the  top that relied on, firstly, mining and logging,   like I said. And then it became like a  honeymooner's retreat because it's cooler,   it's about four or five degrees cooler. And  here, this is like southern Miami, I suppose,  

climate wise. So, in the wet season, it's  really hot and stinky. It's a nice relief   to go up 600 meters above sea level up into  Kuranda, and then it became a tourism town. Okay. So, that a lot of old streets  opened up and new trinkets were   made there and typical tourism items.  Okay. Cafes and things like that. So,   you get to Kuranda at the end and then  how are you getting yourself down? Are you doing the train? yep, yep.  Fantastic. And then you'll take the  

train back down to Cairns, which is  run by the Queensland government. So,   this is a private company. The train is run  by the government and that originally was   built to get up there for that logging and  mining, like I said, but now it's a tourism.

I've been told that it's a significant revenue  that Queens Rain Rail gets from just that railway.   It helps run all of the railway in Queensland  because it's so popular. So, that's what we   are. It's seven and a half kilometers long. Like  I said, that's an example of what you'll see. That's the Barren Gorge just there. So,  that's on the way to Dindin Falls. So,  

you're about to take that. What's our  vision? So, we're family operated,   family owned. The Chapman family  had a vision to do this to promote,   preserve the rainforests that were here, but also  to make it a fantastic tourism experience. So,   the vision is to provide the best rainforest  experience available anywhere in the world.

It's broad, but that's what we're trying  to do. So, we're trying to improve our   business all the time to keep improving that  experience. We've got four brand pillars,   which is encouraging people to love the  rainforest and want to protect it and increase   their knowledge of sustainability and doing the  right thing with protecting these lands. So,   the first one is to discover stuff we try  and encourage people to explore on their own,   as much as with the guided ranges to have fun,  but also we offer opportunities to contribute   back to the community, which I'll talk  about at the end. And on top of all of that,   our responsibility is to conserve natural  heritage, biodiversity, cultural heritage. So, how do we do that? We do that firstly,  by employing me. It's really rare, I think,  

in the States, it's a really rare thing to  have public private partnerships. Ken Chapman   and his family have actually employed  myself, I'm the environmental manager,   but I've also got nine rangers underneath  me. We're completely paid by Skyrail and we   manage the rainforest underneath Skyrail.  So, it's independent of the government. So, like a park ranger in the United States, we  work with rangers, government rangers. We work   with Djabugay rangers. But we're employed solely  by Skyrail to make sure that this rainforest stays  

in mint condition and is actually my belief is  that it's actually in better condition than it   was before Skyrail was built, because we're  actively managing pest species and all of   that sort of thing and getting access to parts  of the rainforest and improving it that wouldn't   otherwise be accessed. So, my job is to make sure  that you know what's happening, but also to keep   this place pristine. How do we do this? So, the  discovery part, we've got ranger guided tours. So, we go into the bush, we might spray, we might  get rid of any pest species or anything like that,   maintain vegetation. If we see vegetation that  might be compromised, we try and manicure that   vegetation if it's next to our boardwalk, to  make sure that it improves the health of the   tree. Other than that, we don't touch anything.  Okay, but we've got ranger guided tours that  

take you guys around the boardwalk, which is  at Red Peak. So, we do 20 minutes guided tours   to show you all about and try and teach  you a little bit about Marina Forest. So up there this morning is Ty. So, Ty  is Djabugay. So, he's a Djabugay ranger,   local indigenous group. So, he'll  take you around the boardwalk if  

you're interested in that when you get up there. Ty: Makes it easier for them to climb. They don't   hop like your normal kangaroos. So, they climb  right to the top of their canopy. And they're   not actually eating fruit, they eat leaves. So,  you'll find them right at the top of the canopy,   eating the new leaves at top of tree. Steve White: We've got interpretive signage,   historical displays, nature  diary, press releases. So,   we sort of talk about things that we've  found new animals that are starting to   come out into the at different times of the  year, flowers, all that sort of thing. So,  

we try and promote the rainforest. And we've  also got an app. So, when you line up to get on,   there's a QR code. Highly recommend you scan that  and then it'll talk about the rainforest as you   go up. Okay? So, we provide opportunities  for information. That's the discovery part. What about the explore part? Well, we've got  boardwalks that you can go out over the lookout.   The boardwalks are all raised. So, this rainforest  community is extremely sensitive to root damage   and things like that. A lot of these plants and  fungi actually communicate with one another as  

far as providing nutrients and all of that sort  of thing. And these trees, all the root systems   are interwoven. So, it's not like each one is  independently just standing there. These two trees   here will have a root system that is intertwined,  so it increases the stability of the forest. It   has really complex interactions with fungi and  other species to provide nutrients and things   that we're only just beginning to understand.  So it's a really sensitive environment. So, we've raised everything so that we're  not having people trudge through the mud   that would be created. We've got discovery  zones and places where you can go and touch   and feel and look at seeds and the big  cassowary. Is anyone aware of what a  

cassowary is? I see them regularly every time  I go into the bush. Most times I'll see one,   but they've got a large range, kind  of like a bear in North America. So, you go for a walk and you'd love to see  one in the distance, not too close to you,   but it's exciting if you do see it. It's the  same with the cassowary. So, I'm not guaranteeing   you'll see one, but we do have them wandering  around. They have a range of about 3 km² that each   individual needs to provide their nutrients. So,  those birds are 1.6 meters high, second heaviest  

bird in the world after an ostrich. So, they're  an impressive bird. I'll talk about them later.  So, enjoyment. We want you guys to have fun. The  gondola goes up to 40, 45 meters above the ground.  So, you're actually skirting above the rainforest.  There's not many places in the world where you get   to look down on the canopy and actually go through  the canopy at stages as well. So, it's a unique  

way to look at the rainforest. We have tree  kangaroos, so most people know about kangaroos   that eat the grass. The kangaroos in here, there's  no grass in the rainforest because of competition.   So, the kangaroos in here are actually we've got  Lumholtz tree kangaroos. They're about seven kilos   high in weight. Sorry, I don't know what that is  in pounds, maybe 20 pounds, 15. And they sit in   the treetops and eat leaves only. Okay, they're  very, very cute. You've got pictures of it at Red   Peak Station. But we have been seeing them maybe  on a weekly basis near Tower Ten. So, keep an eye  

out to your left. But we try and make increase  the enjoyment, giving you those opportunities.   Flying across the top of the canopy, having  a look at the waterfall, making it fun. The last pillar that we have is to contribute.  We've developed the Skyrail Rainforest Foundation.   So, it's a foundation that allows people to  either donate if you don't have any time,   donating. It gives proceeds to scientists to do  further research on the rainforest, tree planting   programs, education programs. We sponsor PhD  students that are doing scientific research.

So far, somewhere around $800,000 has  been donated through that Rainforest   Foundation initiative. But people like  myself, rangers, go out to the community   and do tree plantings at different places  too, and talk about rainforest ecosystems   and rainforest corridors and cassowaries and  things like that. So, we give an opportunity   for local people to contribute, but also  everyone that goes on Skyrail trip as well.  So, they're the four things that we look at  and obviously to conserve the rainforest. So,   when the Chapmans decided to build this, this  wasn't World Heritage. So, World Heritage status,  

I think, was given in 1988. We've got state  parks, which are run by a local government,   and then we've got Commonwealth Government  national parks, which is the same as Yosemite or   whatever it might be in the States. But then the  international community has World Heritage areas   and they are identified by UNESCO, which is United  Nations. There's several in the United States,   there's 200 and something in the world. I think  this World Heritage Rainforest is one of them.

Okay? So, to get World Heritage  Status, you have to apply to UNESCO   and you have to meet a whole bunch  of criteria, or at least one of them,   and this rainforest meets all of them. Okay?  So, it gives you an example of evolutionary   history of plants and animals. This rainforest  has been around for more than 130,000,000 years.   It's the oldest rainforest continually  surviving in the world by quite a margin,   right? So, these plants and animals have been in  isolation. Australia is in the middle of nowhere,  

so it's been in isolation for that long,  adapting with different conditions over   time. So, we've got very unique plants and  animals. We've got cultural significance. I've mentioned that with Djabugay people being  here for 60,000 years and using this rainforest   for that long and all the stories that go with  it, we have what is it, cultural beauty. So,   you have to be a place of significant beauty  and a unique example of geological change. Okay,   so Australia's drifted north. We used to be joined  to Antarctica, and we've floated slowly north over   the last 40, 45 million years. And the ecosystems  in Australia have changed. This rainforest used to  

go all the way to Western Australia. Okay. Nearly.  Perth. So, covered all of Australia, really? And it's retracted only into this little tiny  corner now because all of the moisture coming off   the ocean is stopped by this mountain range. And  it's hot and humid up here and the waterfalls on   this side of the mountain range, and it's the only  place left where Australia is not that dry. Okay,   so it's the only place left where we have  this rainforest. But it used to go all over  

the continent, so world heritage status means  that we meet all of those criteria. Right. So, it's a really special place. David  Attenborough, everyone aware of? Yeah. So,   David Attenborough has named actually UNESCO and  David Attenborough. This is his favorite spot.   He's cited North Queensland, but UNESCO says  this is the second most important ecosystem   left in the world, after one of the national  parks in Venezuela because of its so unique,   so isolated, been here for so long,  so different from everywhere else. So,  

it's a really important spot to build  this place, we had to be very careful. So,   the Chapmans committed to not disturbing it as  well. Disturbing it as little as possible. So,   all the towers that hold the gondola up,  everything was walked in. There were no roads   made, no tracks. Everything had to be walked in or  helicopter dropped. They hand dug the holes. So,  

we're talking five or six meter holes  that were and in the wet season here,   35 degrees and 90% humidity. Pretty unforgiving  conditions. So they hand dug the holes, hand   filled it with concrete or with helicopters, and  then they dropped the towers in piece by piece. And they were constructed on site, bolted  together one section at a time. So that   means that we didn't access anything  by road. Barron Falls was an old farm,   so we put the stations at places  that had been disturbed before,   but the actual virgin rainforest has been  left. Yeah. So he was really particular  

and careful or they were really particular and  careful about how they constructed this thing. The towers have a base of about  seven x 7 meters, so anything they,   they picked sites where there were no large  trees, and anything that they had to move,   they moved. Every sapling, removed it off  site, did their work, and then we replanted   every sapling that we could after it. So, it  was revegetated. My job is to make sure that   the vegetation doesn't touch the towers or the  gondolas, but apart from that, we don't touch   the rainforest here. So, they went out of their  way to make sure we've minimized the impact. Like I said, this place is unique. That's a  tree kangaroo. That's not a very good photo,   but that's a tree kangaroo there. So,  

it looks a little bit like a possum.  Very, very shy, but they're super cute. We have best practice here. We try to drive  improvement in these things and I'll explain   why or how we do that in a minute. But we  try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,   energy efficiency, minimize our water,  our ecosystem conservation, air quality,   noise reduction. We look at all of  that sort of thing and our waste   minimization and recycling program.  So, I'm just about to put a new waste   management system in which all of our  bottles go to containers for change.

And all of those proceeds now are going to go  straight into the Rainforest Foundation. So,   all of the you know, if  you've got a bottle of water,   put it in the recycling bin and all those  proceeds go back into Rainforest Foundation,   which is little initiatives like that sort  of add up, looking at air quality and noise. There's a road that goes up to Kuranda. If  we've got several thousand passengers going   on this cableway each day to get themselves  to Kuranda, like you guys are as a tourist,   it reduces significantly the number of  buses, cars, trucks, all of those sort of   things that are using the road. So, it's a very  efficient way to get there. But not only that,   we're removing traffic from the roadways  and local other ways to get up there. Okay,   so we're trying to do that and promote the  use of the cable way in that way as well.

We're looking at solar. We've got a power  station here that is powered by water,   so it's a sustainable power station. A lot of  the power stations in Australia, unfortunately,   are still coal and gas. So, we're lagging behind  the rest of the world in a lot of aspects as far   as clean energy goes. But we're trying to do our  best to use off grid. We've got electric vehicles  

for our cars now, all of that sort of thing,  which I know that you're far more progressed in   the United States, but in Australia it's actually  a big deal to have an electric car. I think only   I think we're up to 3% of Australia's cars are  electric. Okay. Whereas I don't know what it   is in the States, but hands up if you got electric  car in your family. Few people. Yeah. So, 3%, it's   still really like it's exciting to see one here  still, unfortunately, but we're working towards   that. All right, last little section here and  then I'll open it up for any questions and then   you can get on that skyrail and enjoy it. How do  we do it? We've got a team of us, so the rangers  

that I work with are super passionate about this.  They've dedicated their lives to conservation. They've all either gone to uni or done certificate  courses in conservation management. And we love   telling the story. So, we've got passionate  rangers that try and give the information   out to the local public and turn it into a  story of, oh, it's just a bunch of trees,   to how important this ecosystem actually is. Why do we do it? You could answer that in lots of   ways. The most important thing is because it's the  right thing to do. We could do it and not have any   concerns with the environmental or the community  impacts. But that's bad for our business. Not  

only is it that, but what's the point? Why would  we do that? We can make the same money. We can   promote it in a way that it's going to be still an  attraction by still improving cultural relations,   employing local people, making sure  we're preserving the rainforest. So,   it's a no brainer to try and improve  sustainability. But the other thing is,   because it's fun, these guys dedicate their lives  to it. And also, because this place is fragile. So, there's several reasons for  it. Development, climate change,  

could be all manner of reasons. But because we're  in this little thin strip of rainforests left,   there's not much to preserve. So, if we make sure  that what is there is really healthy and what's   at the edges is my passion, I suppose if you try  and reduce the edge effects on a national park,   you're maintaining it forever. Okay, so when  national park started, the philosophy really   was to put a fence up. Don't let anyone in.  All right? But the more that we develop,   the more industry gets closer to the  edges, the hotter it gets on the edges,   the windier it gets, and the forest  deteriorates over time. So, gone are  

the days where we just lock an area off and say  that'll do we need to actively manage it? Right? So, our philosophy is to make sure that  these trees are healthy. Not just lock   them off from everyone, but make sure that  we're actively contributing to making it a   better environment. That's why we do it.  Also, like I said, it makes good business   sense. You have to make money to employ  people and that's one way to do it as well. Okay, a couple of last things before I open  it up to you guys. We have an environmental   management plan. I can send some things to  you as well after this if you'd like. Well,  

we've got an environmental management plan. It's  a document sort of more than 100 pages long. And   it is the guidelines for the business, everyone  in this business that we have to follow to make   sure that we take care of the environmental  risks that we go through processes so that   this rainforest is not impacted by anyone. So,  we've got 120 people plus that work for Skyrail,   across different departments. So, the ranges  are no worries. That's our thing, environmental   stuff. But when you look at the engineers who  are maintaining the place, what's it to them? They're just trying to fix a bull  wheel or whatever it is. But this  

environmental management plan makes sure  that every single department is trying to   do their bit. It's not just the people on  the ground that are making the difference,   right? So, we make sure that we educate the  engineers, the people in the retail shop,   the marketing people, whoever it is, the  women and men in the office just behind   us here doing all the paperwork. We make  sure that they're on board with it as well. So, we've got an environmental management plan,  and the big one I have to look after this is   EarthCheck certification. So, it's all good to  say, yes, we're going to try and do this, but   we've employed Earth Check to come in and order  dust every single year and make sure that we're   delivering on our promises. So, like I said, we're  not perfect, but what we're trying to do is make  

things a little bit better each year. And then the  difference between 20 years ago and now is really   noticeable. So, next year we'll try and implement  new things and keep all the old things in. Has anyone heard of EarthCheck? So, EarthCheck  is an Australian company originally,   but it's now global and tourism companies  can employ EarthCheck and they come and do   a full audit and they do it every year. And  it's not cheap, but they assess our power,   use our water, use the plastic bags that we  use or don't use, where our water comes from   or just everything you can think of. Where we  store our chemicals, how we transfer petrol,   when we have to use a chainsaw to we might have  a sick tree and we've got to access a limb,   take the chainsaw into the rainforest. How  do we take that petrol without spilling it? Do we bleach our boots before we walk into the  rainforest so that we're not pollinating weeds   and things like that in the rainforest? So,  they come and do a week audit. Takes about  

a couple of months for them to write it up.  And that says, you're doing a good job here,   you're doing a good job there. Have you thought  of this? That's really bad. Let's change it. So,   we employ them to make sure that we're  trying to do the best that we can. We're   also part of Ecotourism Australia. Cairns  is now being marketed as an ecotourism hub.

One of our Queensland strategies is to  say this is an ecotourism hotspot. This   is where all of our businesses are going  to try and commit to being eco certified,   which means that we're improving our business as  we go and that's helping generate people are now   interested in environmental tourism. They want to  choose the right thing to do. They don't want to   just go overseas anymore and go to Australians,  go to Bali. I don't know where you guys go,   Mexico or wherever it might be. It's not just a  choice of the cheapest flight anymore. They want  

to go there, but then do the right thing.  So, this area here has committed to that   and we're part of Ecotourism Australia  as far as that certification goes. And   the last thing is we try and employ local  people. Only up until COVID, that was true. Everyone here was a local and we try to put  money back into the community and employ only   local people. When COVID happened, it was  a little bit different to how it happened  

in the States. Australia pretty much went into  lockdown and this business closed down for nine   months without one customer because of border  went. I actually took leads. I was going to   travel with my family for one month across  Europe and Asia, and I went down to my mom   and dad down in Victoria, southern Australia,  to say hi and goodbye for a couple of weeks. But then COVID happened and I was stuck  on my sister in law's lounge room floor   for six months because I wasn't allowed to  cross the border to come back home. I don't  

know if that happened in the States, in any of  the states, but if you can imagine living in   California and you go and visit your friend or  your mom in Texas before you went on the trip,   and then all of a sudden Texas said you can't  leave because or California wouldn't let you   back. That's what happened here. So, I slept on  my mother in law's….She lived near the beach,   so that was okay, but I slept on her sister in  law. Sorry. Slept on her floor for six months.   Had to wait until the borders opened. As soon  as the borders opened, I could come back to   Queensland and I tried to find work again back at  home. So, you can imagine how unsettling that is. We didn't have a worker here, sorry, a customer  here for nine months. The Chapman's did not put  

anyone off, so a lot of people decided to  go home because they were hurting and they   needed to be with their family and all of that  sort of thing. But anyone that wanted to stay,   the Chapman family found a job for them here,  even though we were closed. So that commitment   to local community is really like, I take  my hat off to the owners of this business   because that's a massive commitment, as you can  understand. We got government incentives. So,   the government did do handouts to  people that were unemployed. Ah,   sorry. To businesses that had employers, but  no customers. But they committed to that.

I've been through all of that. As a result,   we've got lots of tourism awards. You can go  onto our website, that's what I'd recommend,   going onto the website and having a look at what  initiatives we've got, all of the sustainability   stuff and the awards that we've received. But  you take care of the environment, you take care  

of the local community and the money. You've got  to work hard, but the money takes care of itself. Okay? So, that's my message to you, is that  if you do do the right thing, then actually   the money comes and it comes improved, new  and improved. So, that's the philosophy for   Skyrail and that's it for my presentation, but  I wanted to open up the floor. It doesn't have   to be sustainable related or if you would like  me to address anything in particular. Yes, mate.

Audience member 1: When you're managing  the rainforest for invasive species,   do you find that international or within  Australia, species are worse? Because we   went through all the biosecurity measures, but  if something coming from a different part of   Australia, it would be a bigger problem. Steve White: Yeah, so bit of both. So,   when Australia was open up to Europeans firstly,  because we've been isolated for so long it was the   same as North America but because we've been  isolated so long, things like rabbits were   you think rabbits know harmless, but they caused  irreparable damage to this land and most of it was   people like English people, often Scottish, would  come over, they'd have a plot of land and they   used to hunt over there, traditionally, and they'd  like, well, there's nothing to hunt here other   than the kangaroo. So, I'm going to release some  rabbits, release some foxes, and then I can go   hunting with my friends. And so, all of a sudden,  we've got these massive pest species problem.

Foxes, rabbits, pigs are a big one here.  And as far as the trees and plants go,   a lot of the invasive vines from Southeast  Asia grow really well here. So, there's not   really any plants that we get from the rest  of Australia that worry us or animals, because   they don't survive well in this environment. But  plants that are there's a plant called Miconia,  

which is a real problem in Hawaii, I think, but  also in other parts. It's from South American,   I think it might be South American rainforest  plant, but it has this really invasive it   grows really fast, massive leaves, overshadows  everything and everything dies underneath it. So, the answer is international species.  Pests are really problematic because we've   got similar ecosystems to overseas. But other  animals in Australia, they love the dry lands,   which doesn't affect us as much. Pigs are our  big problem for animals. Lantana is our biggest  

problem for plants, which is a vine that sort of  smothers trees. So, we go in and look after that   here, but it's almost not a problem anymore,  which is great. Cane toad. Have you heard of a   cane toad? Yeah, some people have. Massive toad  that big. Cane farmers came in here about 100   years ago and planted in the lowlands, but we had  cane beetles that started eating all the cane. So,   they introduced cane toad from South America and  it worked, they ate cane beetles, but they've got   poisonous glands on the back of their neck. And  all of our animals, snakes, rodents, marsupials,   they thought, oh, new food source, and they  started eating them, but then they'd all die. So,  

if you ate a cane toad, the animal would die. So  these cane toads have now spread from they were   released in Gordonvale, which is the next town  south and they've spread all the way across the   country in the north, and they've reached Sydney  now, I think, or close to Sydney. The animals are   adapting, but big mistake because we've lost  we've reduced a lot of species of snakes and   marsupials because any other questions? Yes. Audience member 2: So, Skyrail took some   pretty strong stances on employment  and corporate social responsibility   with regards to the pandemic.  How do you think that impacted  

the number of people who came back to work? Steve White: Yeah, so really positively. Skyrail   has a good reputation because of that. It's got  a reputation of a good place to work because of   the stability that it offers. And we try and  create good career progression as well. So,   I think it's cost them money in the short  term, but in the long term, I think it's a   really positive move. Yeah. So, people here  are often quite loyal. I've just employed a   person to come across from another department  into the ranger department this week because   they've been here as a housekeeper, so cleaning  for four or five years, and they're committed.  He said to me in the interview, I want to retire  here. So, we've offered him another opportunity so  

that he stays interested. So, yeah, it really does  work. So, if you show loyalty to your employees,   employees will show loyalty to you. Yeah, for  sure. COVID really did knock Australia for six.   So, there are some people that left and they  haven't returned, but that's just the nature   of it. Big country…takes a long….Brisbane is  our next city. Next big city. And it's two and   a half thousand kilometers away. So, what's that  1800 miles away is our next city of significance.   Other than that, it's just small towns. So,  it's like going through Midwest United States,   little towns like that, all the way to  Brisbane. So, if you live in Brisbane,  

it takes a lot to come. The short answer is  yeah, it's really [unintelligible] Any other   questions? Last chance for animals or anything  like that you want to see before you go? Yes.  Audience member 3: Would you say invasive species  is the biggest challenge during preservation   or something else? Steve White: Which species? Audience member 3: Invasive. Steve White: Oh, which invasive? Cane   toads. For in general? Cane toads. Are you talking  about for this rainforest or Australia in general? 

Audience member 3: In general. Steve White: So, in Australia,   cats, foxes, rabbits. Okay. So, really destructive  to the soil. We've got a really dry environment,   usually, so the soil structure is super important  if you destroy I don't know what you guys have   if you've done any soil science, but soil  science sounds really boring until you get   into it and how important soil is and the  structure of the nutrients in there. So,  

foxes, rabbits, cats have really killed a lot  of things here. Cane toads, pigs and miconia,   which is that invasive plant. Yeah, I should  say, too. I'll give you my email address if you   guys have any questions about sustainability  initiatives or invasive species or anything   like that or you're doing a project. I don't know what you're doing for your   assessment. I'm happy to answer anything at any  time. All right, so I'll send that to you and you  

can email me anything. It doesn't have to be  Skyrail related either. It could be anything   because I'm passionate about educating people.  It's important that people realize that this stuff   matters. Yeah. Any other questions? Yes Audience member 4: Just a quick one.   What's your educational background? Steve White: Myself? So, I went to   high school down in southern New South Wales.  So, in a country town, Midwest sort of sort of   town. Did my schooling there at a public school  and then traveled. Was a diver for ages. Loved   some I did some ranger work and loved it. So,  I did a bachelor of Science from that. And so,  

really in zoology, so I specialized in animals,  and then that led me to doing talks and things   like that. And so, then I did education. So,  I've got a bachelor of Science in zoology,   a postgraduate diploma in education, and  then I was a high school teacher for 20   years. And now I'm back into the ranging stuff  because who wants to be a high school teacher? No, they're important was either I move and do  something exciting now or keep in the industry,   and I decided to bite the bullet. But yeah.  Bachelor of Zoology. Marine Biology is James   Cook University here, if anyone's  interested in oceans and things like   that. Lots of information for James Cook  University for that sort of thing. Yeah.

All right. Any last minutes? I should  let you go. You've been locked in a dark   room for an hour and you should  be looking at the Rain Forest.

2023-11-08 01:46

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