Skyrail Rainforest Cableway in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, has been awarded EarthCheck’s highest accolade for sustainable environmental performance – and they’re still committed to year-on-year improvement. Here’s how EarthCheck is helping Skyrail to set the highest standards for environmental responsibility and management.
Australia’s World Heritage listed Wet Tropics Rainforest is the world’s oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest. It has remained relatively unchanged for over 130 million years, and is home to a wide variety of plants and animals that can’t be found anywhere else.
Gliding metres above the pristine jungle canopy before descending to explore the rainforest close up on environmentally sensitive pathways, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is the most environmentally friendly way for guests to immerse themselves in the oldest tropical rainforest experience without leaving a footprint behind.
Not only does Skyrail give thousands of visitors each year the opportunity to explore one of the most fragile rainforest environments on Earth, but it also turns these visitors into advocates, by giving them a greater appreciation for the natural environment and a desire to protect it for future generations
Since 2002, Skyrail has participated in the EarthCheck Certified program, which helps businesses, communities and governments to deliver clean, safe, prosperous and healthy destinations for travellers to visit, live, work and play.
EarthCheck Founder and CEO Stewart Moore says the EarthCheck Certified program assists travel and tourism organisations to increase efficiencies, maximise guest experience and minimise their environmental footprint.
“When you join the EarthCheck Certified program, you become part of a global network of operators who are using world-class benchmarking and certification tools to support their sustainability reporting and performance,” he says.
EarthCheck has completed over 40,000 performance reports and thousands of on-site audits in more than 70 countries – and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway was proudly the first tourism operator in the world to achieve EarthCheck Certification.
Skyrail Operations Manager Tim Hackwood explains that Skyrail first chose to work with EarthCheck because they saw the company’s high standards of operation were complementary to their own.
“EarthCheck are the world leaders in environmental benchmarking and certification for the tourism industry,” Tim says. “They naturally align with Skyrail’s own high standards as we continue our journey towards environmental sustainability.”
To maintain their certification, Skyrail operators are required to meet annual performance indicators to demonstrate their commitment to EarthCheck’s sustainability and benchmarking standards.
Over the last two decades, Skyrail has introduced and maintained a wide range of initiatives to demonstrate their commitment and reduce their environmental impact, including:
Skyrail also makes an ongoing contribution through the Skyrail Rainforest Foundation. Founded in 2005, the Foundation contributes to various education programmes to assist the community in understanding and appreciating the value of tropical rainforests throughout the world. The Foundation has provided more than $600,000 in funding to support research that enhances the protection of tropical rainforests through better understanding and sustainable practices.
Tim says that the long-term benefits of integrating environmental practices into Skyrail’s business have included enhanced brand value, operational savings and risk reduction, as well as employee and guest satisfaction.
“We’ve definitely seen the value of our investment returned to us many times over,” he says.
“We are proud of what we do, and we embrace an ongoing review and improvement philosophy in our business.”
In 2017, Skyrail received EarthCheck’s highest accolade – Master Certification – for demonstrating more than 15 years of commitment to the highest standards of sustainable environmental performance, and making social contributions that benefit their customers, staff and the community.
“EarthCheck has helped Skyrail achieve a level of detailed analysis across every facet of our operations and performance,” Tim says.
“We can now call on two decades of independently audited and benchmarked EarthCheck data to show our commitment to sustainable tourism practices.”
Stewart says this marketplace recognition is critical for tourism operators like Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
“We now have an environment where people are starting to embrace the climate economy,” he says. “Visitors have an expectation that when they travel, they will travel to sustainable enterprises. By being benchmarked through the EarthCheck Certified program, you’re being recognised globally for the work that you’re doing, for being able to verify it with data, and for actually making a difference.”
Skyrail’s success proves that what’s good for the planet can also be good for business – and while they’re the leaders in their industry, there’s no reason other tourism operators can’t aspire to the same standard.
“When’s the best time to start your sustainability journey?” Stewart asks. “The important thing is just to get started. Little steps are fine. You don’t need to resolve every issue within an 18-month period. But you need to have a vision for your company, and the sustainable practices that you believe are achievable, and you need to start taking steps towards them. And that starts today.”
Tim says sustainability isn’t a badge to be unlocked – it’s a journey, and there is no finish line.
“It’s not something that happens overnight,” he says. “It’s something we’ve worked towards for decades to get where we are today. It was part of our vision since inception and something we are proud to continuously improve on.
“Skyrail is a global leader in eco-tourism, but anyone can make a difference. What we’ve found is that it’s the small things that really count – and that starting with those small changes has helped us make big improvements year-on-year.”
There are more than 476 million Indigenous Peoples, found in all regions of the world, from the Arctic to the tropical forests. They make up more than 6 per cent of our global population.
In the spirit of reconciliation, EarthCheck acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout the world and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Indigenous Peoples today.
EarthCheck acknowledges that Indigenous Peoples are guardians of the forests and biodiversity hotspots we all depend on. Research shows that lands managed by Indigenous Peoples, with secure rights, experience lower deforestation rates, store more carbon, hold more biodiversity, and benefit more people than other lands — including protected areas.
We recognise and support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration is a positive document that maps out a path for Indigenous Peoples to be free from discrimination and secure in their identities and life choices.
EarthCheck science and products were developed by the Australian Government Sustainable Tourism Co-operative Research Centre (STCRC) over ten years. Our science is reviewed annually to ensure that it meets international standards relative to greenhouse gas protocols, responsible tourism, and certification.
EarthCheck products and services are built on the Agenda 21 principles for Sustainable Development endorsed by 182 Heads of State at the United Nations Rio De Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 and aligned to the SDGs.
EarthCheck Certified provides a framework for organisations to achieve the desired outcomes for sustainable development as set out in the final report of the World Summit for Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002.
EarthCheck Certified complies with the Mohonk Agreement (2000), which outlines the guidelines and principles for an international sustainable tourism certification program. It is also a Recognised program of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
EarthCheck Certified is a verification standard accepted by CDP. It is also an approved program of the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA), London & Partners, the Mexican Secretary of Tourism (SECTUR) and the City of Sydney.
EarthCheck Certified is an approved program for meeting the EU Energy Directive for the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle – BAFA) in Germany and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy) in the Netherlands.
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The EarthCheck brand signifies scientific excellence, better environmental, economic, and social performance, improved community interactions, and savings through more efficient use of resources. It provides recognition and promotional support to a global consumer market.