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What is an ECO Destination?

An ECO Destination is a globally recognised destination that has an outstanding natural environment and best practice management. The  ECO Destination Certification program ensures destinations are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to the ongoing improvement of sustainable practices and provide high-quality nature-based tourism experiences within the region.

The Shire is making solid steps towards achieving certification as an ECO Destination, and in doing so, we can improve the natural environment and quality of life for our community and visitors alike.

Why it matters

The Shire is a breathtakingly unique place with the perfect combination of amenity and natural beauty. The Shire is part of the South West Australia Ecoregion (SWAE) - Australia’s only Global Biodiversity Hotspot and home to a variety of unique flora and fauna which are under serious threat. The Ecoregion has the highest concentration of rare and endangered species in Australia.

Becoming certified as an ECO Destination is a natural extension of the work we are already doing to protect and conserve our environment. It sends a strong message to visitors that we walk the talk when it comes to sustainability. This is an increasingly important factor in travellers’ destination choice as they become more aware of the need to tread lightly on the earth.

And it’s not just about visitors. It’s about our community having the most liveable place possible. It just so happens that a great place to live is a great place to visit.

Examples of our amazing initiatives

Together, our community is caring for this boodja (country), and we aspire to keep it healthy for generations to come. 

Here are some examples of this amazing work.

nullThe Wadandi Pibelmen people have been here for more than 50,000 years so if anyone knows how to care for country it’s them. The Shire regularly engages with our Traditional Owners and is grateful to have Indigenous leaders to provide input and guidance.
 

When it comes to tourism experiences Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association works closely with local Wadandi Traditional Owners to promote Aboriginal tourism and to encourage a greater awareness, understanding and respect for Aboriginal history and culture.
 

The Shire is proud to have supported Traditional Fire Management workshops, the Wadandi Ranger program, Aboriginal trainees, the Bunuru Festival and other events celebrating Aboriginal culture. 
 

For more information on local Aboriginal culture, visit the Undalup Association’s website.

nullWater is the lifeblood of ecosystems, the critical ingredient for agricultural produce, and the element that brings us together on weekends and early morning surf missions. In our Shire, a lot of effort is placed on looking after the quality of our water.
 

The Shire funds and supports incredible groups like Nature Conservation Margaret River to protect the ecological health of Wooditjup Bilya – the Margaret River, and other waterways in the Shire.
 

The Shire’s Environmental Health Team regularly tests local waterways to make sure they’re clean and safe for swimming. They can also test your rainwater quality for you if you have any concerns.
 

To make every drop count, Gloucester Park, the Margaret River Golf Course, and other areas of public open space are irrigated with treated, recycled water meaning we’ve reduced the use of river water and groundwater.

nullThe Shire lies within an internationally recognised Global Biodiversity Hotspot, defined as an area that is biologically rich but also under threat. We're lucky to have more than 60% remnant vegetation within the Shire whereas other pockets within the southwest hotspot have suffered a much greater degree of land-clearing.
 

The incredible diversity of plant species is protected and rehabilitated in a number of ways, including Shire and community plantings, the installation of fencing to protect vegetation from livestock, incentives for landholders to implement conservation covenants, restrictions on the removal of trees, signage and education about stopping the spread of dieback and sticking to paths, and ongoing programs to eradicate weeds.
 

The role of looking after this flora rests upon all of us, and the Shire is proud to support the efforts of a wide range of community groups in helping protect this asset.  If you are interested in volunteering some time for conservation, register with Nature Conservation Margaret River Region.

nullThe Augusta Margaret River region is home to an incredible array of birds, reptiles, and mammals.  Sadly, we’re also home to a number of threatened animals, including endangered Black Cockatoos, and critically endangered Hairy Marron, White-bellied Frog and Western Ringtail Possums.  
 

Efforts to protect these animals include prohibiting development in areas of key conservation value, restricting dogs and cats from National Park and reserves, and programs to control fox and feral pig populations.  
 

Owl Friendly Margaret River is finding ways to protect our Masked Owls and other big birds of prey from secondary poisoning from rodent baits.  The Shire is proud to become an Owl Friendly Shire and has transitioned away from rodenticides that harm wildlife. To find out more by visiting the Owl Friendly Margaret River website.

nullThis region is blessed with a huge diversity of locally-grown produce: fruit, nuts, wine grapes, beef, milk, olives and more.
 

As custodians of their farms, local farmers and viticulturists are experimenting with ways to increase biodiversity, capture carbon, retain water, and grow the healthiest produce possible. The Shire is proud to support the amazing work being done by the Margaret River Wine Association with their Sustainable Wine Growing program. The Shire is also a proud supporter of Lower Blackwood LCDC, whose work is improving sustainability from the ground up.
 

Many of our local restaurants have a big focus on using local produce, and there are ample opportunities to support local growers by visiting the Margaret River Farmers’ Market each Saturday, or finding suppliers such as The Garden Basket, Riverfresh IGA, and Gathered Organics.

nullThe Shire’s Council has been an active voice for climate action, declaring a climate emergency and committing to zero emissions by 2030.  The Shire and the community collaborated in 2019 to facilitate a Climate Action Summit to drive further action for climate mitigation. The Summit identified 11 key actions for climate action, which have been incorporated into the Shire’s Climate Action Plan.
 

Some steps we have taken so far include:

  • Installing solar panels on Shire buildings brings up our renewable energy generation to 228 kWh
  • Shifting the Shire’s power purchases to green energy
  • Offsetting carbon emissions through tree planting projects in Western Australia
  • With ongoing financial support from the Shire, Augusta Margaret River Clean Community Energy has undertaken research to underpin a large-scale clean energy project in the Shire, and has established a revolving zero-interest fund for renewable energy projects.

nullThe Shire maintains a network of local walk and cycle trails that provide a great opportunity to get back to nature, improve physical and mental health, reduce traffic and related air pollution, and increase social interaction.
 

The Wadandi Track extends all the way from Cowaramup to past Witchcliffe, and the Whale Trail in Augusta goes from Flinders Bay to Dead Finish.  A great way to get from Margaret River to Prevelly is to cycle on the trail adjacent to Wallcliffe Rd, and there are numerous tracks throughout the centre of Margaret River to explore.  To find out more on local trails visit the Paths and Trails page.
 

For all your short trips to town consider riding a bike – Margaret River’s new main street has a cycle lane and plenty of bike racks.

This community is making some great strides with better waste practices.  The Shire has been working hard to reduce waste going to landfill – we’ve been an early adopter of the FOGO bin system, more than halving the amount of food and organic waste going to landfill and turning it into compost! The community has supported this in a way to be proud of, with very little contamination in the FOGO bins.

nullThe Shire encourages every event to go plastic free by building this into funding agreements and providing a filtered water refill station to events so that people don’t need to buy single-use water bottles. We have some fascinating examples of innovative ways to deal with waste, from the East Augusta Earthship – a house made from old tyres and spent cans and bottles – to Precious Plastic Margaret River, who turn bottle caps into new products like plant pots and surfboard fins.Find out more about bins, waste and rcycling.

nullThe economy of the Shire is very diverse and supported by a range of small and medium local businesses that not only provide goods and services into the market but are made up of local residents who are invested in their communities. 
 

The Shire has committed to the Small Business Friendly Local Government Charter and works to support a vibrant economy in several ways, such as:

  • Funding iconic events that bring locals and visitors together to celebrate and support local businesses
  • Providing grants programs to support sustainable business
  • Running the Local-Is-More campaign with the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry to foster a culture of supporting, thinking, and buying local first
  • Collaborating with the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry on a local gift card (www.localismore.com.au/giftcard) to keep money circulating locally as many times as possible 
  • Running business workshops and seminars on a variety of themes.

 

For more information about our local economy, visit:

nullLocal Government is the level of government closest to the community and most able to directly engage in dialogue. The Shire regularly seeks out consultation with the community for particular projects or issues. The Shire’s community consultation platform, Your Say, is a key medium for communicating opportunities for consultation. Likewise, Council exists to represent the community voice, and Councillors are available to discuss any issues or concerns. 
 

The local community has a long history of campaigning for environmental protection and social justice, and these efforts have contributed to the forward-thinking policies in place. Groups like the Margaret River Regional Environment Centre, Nannas for Native Forests, Margaret River Community Centre, Just Home Margaret River, and Lions Clubs have helped keep important issues in the public dialogue.
 

While the Shire is empowered to make some decisions that impact the community, many decisions happen at the State or Federal level. In these instances, the Shire can play a role in advocating on behalf of the community. Examples include presenting arguments to State Government for more social housing to address local homelessness, advocating for an end to native forest logging, and making a case for Tiny Homes to be allowed in the local planning scheme.

More information and contact

For more information about the ECO Destination framework or for any feedback or suggestions, please contact the Shire on (08) 9780 5255 or email [email protected]

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