The first one hundred native trees have been funded for planting at sites in Caloundra and Cooroy as a result of the pioneering Sunshine Coast Sustainability Program.
The program was created by Visit Sunshine Coast (VSC), in conjunction with Reforest and Sunshine Coast Council, to encourage visitors to offset their carbon impact by planting trees locally.
The milestone – announced today at VSC’s SHINE industry conference – comes just seven weeks after the program was launched, with a wide range of Sunshine Coast tourism operators participating in the program.
The first two properties selected for regeneration were both former cattle properties. The tree plantings will help return the properties to sub-tropical rainforest.
Commenting on the milestone, Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel, said: “Our sustainability program was designed to unite visitors and the tourism industry to make a positive contribution towards removing carbon from the local environment. The program is now up and running and really encouraging to see we have hit our first milestone of raising funds for the planting of 100 trees at our project sites”.
“The sites at Caloundra and Cooroy had been cleared and are being regenerated with native plant species to improve biodiversity and provide safe habitats for endangered species such as koalas, the tiny Coxen’s parrot and the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly.
“We are so lucky to be situated in a Biosphere corridor with three UNESCO Biosphere regions side by side, which is unique in the world. That status is a major attraction for Australian and international visitors, who generate over $5 billion annually in revenue to support the Sunshine Coast’s businesses and community,” he said.
Reforest’s Daniel Walsh acknowledged the businesses and visitors who have funded these first 100 trees: “The really unique and powerful feature of this program is how it brings local businesses and visitors together to help make tourism on the Sunshine Coast regenerative for the incredible natural assets that bring people here in the first place.
“This initial group of operators are the leaders in a movement that we believe represents the future of travel. Travel that leaves the places we visit better than we found them. We’re excited to work with these leading operators and Visit Sunshine Coast to expand the program and watch that positive impact grow.”
The tree-planting program is part of an integrated initiative involving Sunshine Coast tourism businesses, from accommodation providers to coastal cruises and family attractions, who have signed up to reduce and remove their carbon emissions.
The program includes:
• A carbon calculator for visitors to understand their carbon footprint.
• Helpful tips and tricks on ways visitors can minimise their footprint.
• Local reforestation projects for visitors and businesses to remove their carbon emissions.
• A toolkit for tourism businesses to calculate emissions and identify ways to take positive climate action.
• A dashboard where outcomes are displayed and sustainability stories are profiled.
Tourism operators interested in joining the Sunshine Coast Sustainability Program can find full details at: www.visitsunshinecoast.com/sunshine-coast-sustainability-program.