Kakadu Tourism drives environmental initiatives to boost sustainability performance
One of the world’s most treasured natural and cultural landscapes – Kakadu – is planning to boost its connection with its ancient lands by investing strongly in environmental sustainability.
Kakadu Tourism is the largest tourism and hotel operator in Kakadu National Park, with two hotels – Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel and Cooinda Lodge & Camping. It also operates Yellow Water Cruises, Yellow Water Fishing, Spirit of Kakadu 4WD Adventures and the Warradjan Cultural Centre.
With a land known for over 65,000 years of continuous human habitation, Kakadu Tourism’s philosophy is based around ‘Planet, People, Profit’: if we look after the planet, the planet looks after the people, and everyone profits.
Kakadu’s Indigenous peoples have always championed this approach, and with Kakadu Tourism fully Indigenous-owned, the operators are investing in a raft of new sustainability measures to achieve the lowest possible impact on the environment.
How will this be achieved?
Currently, the generators for Cooinda Lodge are located in the maintenance yard, close to accommodation and the billabong. They are noisy, create air pollution and use high levels of fossil fuels (up to 1800 litres per day).
A new energy delivery and management plan has been finalised which will include:
- Establishing a 650kw solar field with considerable battery storage, which will slash fuel consumption by 40% (2024/2025);
- Purchase of new generators and their relocation to Cooinda Airstrip. They will be used as back-up for the solar generated electricity;
- The relocation will reduce the risk of any environmental contamination due to the higher elevation in its new location and also increased distance from the billabongs and waterways. The relocation is scheduled for 2022;
- Hot water usage is one of the most energy-intensive demands, and a new project is underway to replace gas fuelled systems to solar/electric, improving efficiencies by 50-70%;
- Installation of charging stations for electric vehicles (EV’s);
- Rolling conversion to energy efficient lighting (80%+ efficiency improvement).
Sustainable Building Practices (Refurbishment Vs Replacement)
To address the environmental aspects, Cooinda Lodge now refurbishes, wherever possible, all building facilities rather than out and out replacement; this reduces construction waste and enhances the building’s long term energy performance. This approach reduces Kakadu Tourism’s carbon footprint and delivers best practice facilities for both our guests and employees.
Water & Waste Treatment (Closed-Loop, Reverse Osmosis)
Kakadu Tourism is looking to introduce closed loop systems using technologies such as reverse osmosis (green powered) to treat water for use in the hotels as an alternative to chemical-based processes. The closed-loop system leaves no impact on nature while the output is natural and sustainable.
More rainwater tanks will be installed for drinking water to partially replace the current filtering of river water.
Major changes will be implemented for laundry management, with the installation of a modern new laundry using totally biodegradable chemicals.
A comprehensive waste management program is in progress to reduce waste and increase recycling. These measures include:
- Kitchen scraps goes to piggeries
- On-site commercial composters; In as little as 24 hours, food waste volumes are reduced by up to 90% and transformed into nutrient-rich compost, which comes out like coffee grinds and can be safely used to fertilise the plants in the gardens.
- Cooinda Lodge and Mercure Kakadu have partnered with Darwin based company Cookers to collect used oil – rather than having it flushed through the drains or deposited in landfill – which is reused as biofuel and feedstock.
Promoting recycling by guests and local community
Kakadu Tourism completely upgraded its public rubbish transfer stations across the Cooinda property to encourage guests, campers, and staff to recycle.
Custom designed collection points were introduced throughout the property with separate bins to handle the recycling of aluminium, glass, plastics and paper.
Local communities of Kakadu are also encouraged to use the stations.
Revenue earned from the recycling goes to charities, with up to $15K raised annually, complementing the massive reduction in waste and resources.
Connecting visitors with country
Providing visitors with an insight and understanding of the local culture, community and ecology is a priority for Kakadu Tourism.
Cooinda Lodge and Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel are developing bush tucker/medicine trails around the properties to increase the understanding and appreciation of the local environment. Self-guiding maps will be available with Indigenous names and descriptions to illustrate these timeless natural resources.
Caring for Country
Annually, Kakadu Tourism engages Indigenous local Peter Christopherson from Kakadu Native Plants to clear Cooinda from invasive species and conduct burning. Peter employs local Indigenous workers and senior Traditional Owners to assist.
Kakadu Tourism also works with Traditional Owners and Kakadu National Park to reduce the amount of invasive Sylvania in waterways as it has the potential to choke the environmentally fragile wetlands.
Supporting local communities
The culture and heritage of Kakadu’s original inhabitants is integral to the operation of Kakadu Tourism’s operations.