Wildlife Wonders ecotourism experience will bring many benefits

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A new ecotourism experience on the Great Ocean Road has its sights set on helping to solve some significant problems, from Australia’s faunal extinction crisis to a shortage of secure jobs.

Lizzie Corke and the team at the Conservation Ecology Centre have spent nearly two decades working to protect the unique environment of the Otways.

The work has, in part, been supported by their award-winning Great Ocean Ecolodge, but a couple of years ago they realised it was time to step up their efforts.

“Australia has one of the worst records in the world for allowing our unique animals to go extinct,” says CEO Lizzie Corke.  “And current funding challenges mean there is limited long-term monitoring, skills shortages, and low levels of innovation in conservation.”

In a true case of thinking globally but acting locally, the Conservation Ecology Centre realised they could use their experience in eco-tourism to create a unique experience on the Great Ocean Road which would deliver social and economic benefits, as well as helping to fund their conservation research.

“Wildlife Wonders provides an alternative funding model for conservation – helping us break free of short-term funding cycles – leading to more effective and efficient conservation efforts”.

“Long-term monitoring, conservation, and restoration projects will allow us to better understand and protect the Otways. Leading to an improvement in the viability and resilience of threatened species populations.”

But it’s not all about the animals. Wildlife Wonders will create careers in conservation as well, increasing the number of secure jobs available to local people and bringing some great minds into the region too.

The project is also addressing a current gap in the tourism market, creating a sustainable tourism attraction that educates visitors and enhances their experience of the Great Ocean Road and regional Victoria.

Wildlife Wonders has the potential to positively disrupt the current tourism industry – providing visitor connection with the Great Ocean Road region and increasing length of stay.

“We hope that Wildlife Wonders will encourage visitors to stay longer and to spend more money in the region, helping to strengthen our local economy,” says Lizzie.

After being given the green light last year, the project has received support from both the federal and state governments and revegetation and path layout have commenced on the site.

“We’ve secured over $6million in funding, including the Victorian Government’s $1.5 million investment and $2 million from the Australian Government,” says Lizzie.

“Now we’re commencing discussions with private philanthropists and investors to bring us up to our target of $12.6million for the project.” says Lizzie.

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Benefits of the project include:

  • A reliable, sustainable funding model for conservation
  • Engagement of the local and global community with Australian wildlife conservation
  • Ecologically responsible economic development in regional Victoria
  • Secure jobs and career development opportunities in conservation and ecotourism
  • Demonstration of a business- based approach to community development and environmental conservation
  • A sustainable tourism attraction that educates visitors and enhances their experience of the Great Ocean Road and regional Victoria
This project is supported by: