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Enhancing the Pilbara Georegion Through Geotourism by Angus M Robinson

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In recent years there has been a growing realisation that economic development in outback regional Australia needs to be built on the three sustainable core pillars of mining, agriculture and tourism. Geotourism, an emerging global phenomenon, is holistic and is an experiential form of nature (and culture – both indigenous and post European settlement based) tourism. Unlike ecotourism which focuses mainly on flora and fauna in essentially protected areas, geotourism can extend across both designated protected and unprotected areas, including those areas subject of existing agricultural and mining development. By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in history and society today, geotourism provides local communities with a sense of pride in their region and strengthens their identification with the region. Geotourism can be the generator of new jobs and innovative local enterprises as new sources of revenue, as well as the opportunity for existing remote area businesses to diversify into provision of visitor services, while the geological heritage of the region can be better managed and protected.

Embracing through geotourism the Pilbara Georegion’s world-famous North Pole stromatolites, given this geosite’s world class profile as the oldest living community fossils on the planet, has considerable potential in establishing Australia as a ‘must see’ destination for fossil-rich geoheritage visitation. Realisation of this potential, when combined with the parallel development of the truly unique Nilpena Ediacaran fossil assemblage site in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, as well as the established Age of Dinosaurs museum in Winton in Western Queensland, will deliver for Australia an unparalleled tourism destination. For the emerging, high value, free and independent market in China, the availability of high profile ‘scenic areas’ such as the Pilbara Georegion, with its outstanding natural heritage and cultural values, offers outstanding ‘bucket list’ appeal.

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Enhancing the Pilbara Georegion Through Geotourism by Angus M Robinson

  1. 1. 'Enhancing the Pilbara Georegion Through Geotourism’ Karratha Workshop , 26th August 2019 Angus M Robinson FAusIMM (CP), Coordinator National Geotourism Strategy, Australian Geoscience Council
  2. 2. Australian Geoscience Council  The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) is the peak Council of geoscientists in Australia representing eight major Australian geoscientific societies with a total membership of over 8,000 individuals.  Under the current 2015-2020 Strategic Plan of the AGC, and as a Geoscience advocacy opportunity, the AGC has decided to formulate a draft National Geotourism Strategy to accommodate the orderly development of major geotourism projects and activities in line with overseas trends and domestic regional development imperatives.
  3. 3. Today’s Agenda  Ecotourism and Geotourism  Socio-Economic Benefits of Geotourism  Discussion topics of the National Geotourism Strategy  Geoheritage  Government approval pathway  Geotrails  Collaboration with Mining Heritage  Geotourism for Geologists and Resource Companies  Geotourism Vision for the Pilbara Georegion  Geotourism Destination Management Plan
  4. 4. Understanding Natural Heritage Natural heritage is the legacy of natural objects and intangible attributes encompassing the countryside and natural environment, including flora and fauna, scientifically known as BIODIVERSITY, and geology, landforms and soil landscapes, i.e. GEODIVERSITY (Geoheritage)
  5. 5. Ecotourism & Geotourism Concepts  Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing protected natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.  But ecotourism per se is too narrowly defined and is increasingly seen as a niche market.  However 'geotourism is holistic, nature-based and cultural tourism that focuses on an area's geology & landscape as the platform for providing visitor engagement, learning and enjoyment'.
  6. 6. Ecotourism & Geotourism Concepts  Ecotourism is practised predominantly in protected areas such as national parks whereas geotourism is undertaken also in all areas where primary industry activities are being carried out.  Unlike ecotourism, geotourism is increasingly seen globally as an instrument of regional economic development.
  7. 7. Geotourism comprises the following features of both natural and cultural heritage:  Abiotic – non-living aspects such as the sky, climate & geology e.g. landscape and landforms: GEODIVERSITY.  Biotic – the living parts eg. fauna (animals) and flora (plants): BIODIVERSITY.  Cultural – past & present, indigenous and post European settlement, non-living and built. Holistic in scope, geotourism is booming globally and a key driver for tourism, particularly in Europe and Asia. Source: Professor Ross Dowling
  8. 8. ‘Place Based’ Geotourism incorporating all types of ‘nature-based’ tourism Astrotourism Cuisine Agritourism Indigenous Tourism Heritage Tourism Cultural Tourism ECOTOURISM Geotourism i.e. ‘experiential tourism’
  9. 9. Geotourism is not 'geological tourism’'
  10. 10. 10
  11. 11. Geotourism Delivery Mechanisms 1. Geosites & Mining Heritage Sites. 2. Geological Time Walks. 3. Geotrails. 4. Geoparks - both national and UNESCO global. 5. Mining Parks e.g. as in China
  12. 12. Geotourism and Regional Development  Regional development imperatives (growth and jobs) are now driving geotourism initiatives in Australia.  Creating geotrails is arguably the easiest way of providing early pathways and support from governments for geotourism activities in Australia.  Successful roll-out of geotrails will instill confidence in geotourism, providing a future pathway to geopark establishment and development in Australia.
  13. 13. Socio-Economic Benefits of Geotourism 1. Measurable economic benefits - additional visitors, direct & regional economic output, household income & wages, and local employment. 2. Through establishment of a management entity, higher level of centralised coordination in areas of product development, travel and hospitality services, tourism promotion/branding. 3. Maximisation of sustainable development and management of 'over tourism'/e.g. emerging issue in Tasmania. 4. Provides a framework for focus on the 10 UNESCO Topics e.g. culture, education, climate change, geoconservation, sustainable development etc. 5. Community engagement is maximised and measured.
  14. 14. The Geotourism and Geopark Relationship Geoparks are both a development concept as well as a branding tool. They achieve these goals through: 1.Geoconservation 2.Education 3.Geotourism
  15. 15. UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARKS Economic Impact Study 1: United KingdomUNESCO Svjetski Geoparkovi Organizacija Ujedinjenih Naroda za Obrazovanje, Znanost i Kulturu UNESCO Activity Estimated financial benefit per year Number of Sites if appropriate Estimated financial benefit per designation World Heritage Sites 61.1 M GBP 28 2.2 M GBP Global Geoparks 18.8 M GBP 6.5 2.9 M GBP UNITWIN/UNESC O Chairs 2.9 M GBP 16 0.18 M GBP Biosphere Reserves 2.3 M GBP 6 0.38 M GBP Everything Else 4.3 M GBP n/a TOTAL 89.4 M GBP Wider Value of UNESCO to the UK (2012-2013): www.unesco.org.uk
  16. 16. National Geotourism Strategy – Discussion Topics 1. Geotourism as a means of celebrating geoheritage. 2. Enhanced coordination nationally of geoheritage listings. 3. Establishment of a national set of administrative procedures for ‘georegional’ assessment. 4. New geotrail development. 5. Geotourism to strengthen Australia’s international geoscience standing. 6. Training of geologists to improve communication skills for geosite interpretation. 7. Collaboration with providers of other areas of natural (bioregion) and cultural (particularly MINING) heritage content.
  17. 17. National Geotourism Strategy – Topic #1 Geotourism celebrating Geoheritage:  By expansion of the Geotourism map concept (as developed in NSW) progressively across Australia on a ‘state by state’ basis (both hard copy and online) supplemented by publications.  By consideration of new ICTs (e.g. smartphones, 3D visualisation, AR & VR), GIS technologies as a cost- effective means of accessing and better communicating geological content for travellers and residents in regional Australia.
  18. 18. National Geotourism Strategy – Topic #2 Enhanced coordination nationally of geoheritage listings with the objective of highlighting areas of both geotourism value and geosites that need to be protected, given that  the right balance needs to be determined between the needs of exposing geosites for public visitation and geoconservation needs, and  there are no national standards or guidelines with each state/territory having different strategies and systems for recording geoheritage. •
  19. 19. Geological Heritage, Geoconservation and Geotourism  Geological heritage sites, the scale of which will vary greatly e.g. a fossil locality or road cutting, others may entail a segment of coastline or a large topographical feature. Some sites may need to be surrounded by a buffer zone of sufficient size to protect its integrity.  Therefore Geoconservation must be a key consideration when sites are considered for visitation.  Geotourism must determine what measures are put in place or techniques used to respect geoconservation considerations.
  20. 20. Technology Solutions for Geoheritage Protection  Virtual Tours e.g. GSWA Virtual Tour of the East Pilbara http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/GSWA-virtual- tours-22666.aspx  Visitor Interpretation Centre supported Augmented Reality and 3D Visualisation  Smartphone Supported Tour Guide Applications and Acoustiguide services. and not forgetting the power of controlled onsite tours with tour guides (similar to Cave tours) and/or the construction of interpretation centres built over the exposed outcrops. •
  21. 21. New National Park at Nilpena Flinders Ranges South Australia Iconic Ediacaran Fossil Site
  22. 22. Iconic Fossil Geosites – Ediacaran & Keichousaurus Nilpena, South Australia Zingyi, Guizhou Province, China
  23. 23. Flinders Ranges National Landscape Keichousaurus Conservation Museum, Xingyi National Geopark
  24. 24. Gossan of the Broken Hill Orebody
  25. 25. National Geotourism Strategy – Topic #3 Establishment of a national set of administrative procedures for ‘georegional’ assessment to provide for potential geopark nominations at state and national levels and, as approved by governments, at a UNESCO Global Geopark level.
  26. 26. Major Geotourism Development in Australia  More focus needs to be applied to communicating the ‘georegional’ nature of geotourism.  Preferred focus first on geotrail development.  Any emerging geopark proposals must be supported by Geological Surveys.  More time must be allowed to gain community engagement/support to ensure geopark sustainability.  Need to compile and promote quantifiable data and analysis to establish socio-economic benefit.
  27. 27. Georegions, Geotrails and Geoparks  In large regional areas such as the Murchison in Western Australia, the Mid West Development Commission and local councils are undertaking a ‘georegional’ assessment.  Including the determination of the most viable geotourism delivery mechanism available.  In the first instance this is focused on geotrail development.  This may lead to the identification of an area suitable for geopark development, subject to State Government approval.
  28. 28. National Geotourism Strategy – Topic #4 New Geotrail Development: Individual geological surveys from the States and Territories be invited to engage, on an ‘as needs’ basis, and in collaboration with university/museum interest groups as well as with state/territory divisions and branches of the interested professional societies, to review the suitability of existing roads, bushwalks, biking and rail trails as potential geotrails.
  29. 29. Why Geotrails?  Relates directly to the tourism experience of a journey linking destinations.  In Australia, unlike geoparks, geotrails have widespread appeal, and do not compete with or impact on land management/access issues.  Geotrails are relatively easy to establish and represent a very cost- effective means of enhancing regional development.  Can form the basis of a 'defacto geopark'.
  30. 30. Best Practice Geotrails  Should be constructed around routes currently used by tourists; geotrails should form logical journeys linking accommodation destinations.  Should meld the geological heritage features of a region with a cohesive STORY.  Should incorporate and package in the biodiversity and cultural components (including mining heritage) of the region through which the geotrail traverses.
  31. 31. 26 • Identify a geoscience theme • Tell a simple story incorporating 'A' + 'B' +'C' elements • Use engaging stories, descriptions and graphics • Deliver supporting information in a range of ways • Collaborate • Link to related features based on science and culture Desired outcomes • increased visitor numbers and regional economic growth • a broader community understanding of science, and in particular, geoscience. Keys to success - Warrumbungles Geotrail
  32. 32. Marketing – West Coast Geotrail, Tasmania The following markets & strategies will give the GeoTrail the best chance of achieving an increase in visitor stops & stays as well as associated revenue.  engage the local communities of the Trail to build pride and referrals to family, friends and visitors through involvement in content development, familiarisations, progress reporting and ongoing promotion.  engage the existing visitor market to increase the number of stops and stays through the development and promotion of online communications and a downloadable free mobile app.  engage relevant specialist groups in the Trail experience through use of specific publications and newsletters.  engage the potential education market through the development and promotion of a regional education package involving the Trail and other relevant experiences.
  33. 33. Exemplar: Port Macquarie Coastal Geotrail, NSW "The collaborative geotrail project has been led by the University of Newcastle (A) & supported by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, the Geological Survey of NSW (A), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (B) & Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council (C). Supported by a brochure, website & smartphone app, the Port Macquarie Coastal Geotrail is a four kilometre walk from Shelly Beach to Rocky Beach that tells the story of plate tectonics & how the Earth’s crust was formed along the stretch of coastline over the past 460 million years".
  34. 34. 21 Port Macquarie Coastal Geotrail •Opened 2 May 2018. •Collaborative project with Uni of Newcastle, Port Macquarie- Hastings Council, OEH (Sea Acres Rainforest Centre), Birpai LALC. •Geotrail with signs, brochure, web content and app. •Helped to train volunteers.
  35. 35. Granite & Woodlands Self-Drive Discovery Trail, WA "Take in the expansive views of sandy heathland & spring wildflowers (B) as you pass along the Holland Track, which gives way to nickel & gold mining land (C) around Forrestania Plots. Keep a look out for bush turkeys, dingos or more elusive native animals such as honey and pigmy possums (B),which are sometimes seen around Grevillea Hill. From here the landscape changes (A) to mallee woodland & eucalypts. Explore the rocky outcrops & cliffs of The Breakaways(A) before rolling out your swag at for a night under an amazing star-filled sky (A)."
  36. 36. Island of Tasmania Australia’s Red Centre National Landscape
  37. 37. Iconic Geotourism Themes of Australia’s Red Centre National Landscape  A: Landforms and common geological heritage  B: Red Kangaroo species, and other type flora/fauna  C: Indigenous (and European) culture
  38. 38. Iconic Geotourism Themes of the Pilbara Georegion  A: Landforms and geological heritage  B: Endemic Flora and Fauna Highlights  C: Indigenous (and European) culture, particularly agriculture, mining and resource processing
  39. 39. Ulladulla Geological Time Walk - Conceived and Created by Phil Smart
  40. 40. Etheridge ‘Scenic Georegion’, Queensland Comprising the entire Shire of Etheridge, and including areas of outstanding volcanic and mining heritage - some 40,000 sq km in area. Embracing 1.7 billion years of geological history. Only 950 people, mainly cattle farmers.
  41. 41. TerrEstrial Centre, Georgetown, FarNQ
  42. 42. National Geotourism Strategy – Topic #7 Mechanisms for collaboration with providers of other areas of natural (bioregion) and cultural heritage content,  inclusive of mining and resource industry heritage (e.g. mining companies, geological and mining museums, historical societies e.g.the AMHA,  as well as specialist groups with interests in flora and fauna etc.)
  43. 43. Collaboration with Providers of Mining Heritage  Work with museums, Geological Surveys and community groups to identify, link and promote ‘mining’ museums and heritage centres both nationally and state wide.  Work with state tourism agencies to promote geotourism and new product development that can include museums and mining heritage sites linked through geotrails.  Encourage the mining industry to sponsor mining heritage projects as an opportunity to enhance ‘social licence’ and Community Social Responsibility commitments.  AGC will be conferring with its constituent professional societies (e.g. The AusIMM, AIG, PESA etc) to determine whether this can be a leadership role for mining professionals.
  44. 44. Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park, Taiwan Herberton Mining Centre and Walking Trails
  45. 45. Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park, Taiwan Chillagoe Smelters Heritage Site, Far NQ
  46. 46. Chillagoe Smelters Heritage Trail
  47. 47. Lithgow State Mine and Heritage Park
  48. 48. Lithgow State Mine and Heritage Park
  49. 49. Photo by Henry Gold
  50. 50. Take-Aways: Major Geotourism Development in Australia  The State and Territory Chief Government Geologists are meeting this week to consider a ‘way forward’ based on these discussion topics as identified by the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC).  It is hoped that priority may be able to be given to making a start on implementing these recommended measures in collaboration with the constituent member societies of the AGC.  The AGC remains hopeful that a national geotourism strategy can start to emerge during this process.
  51. 51. Why Geotourism for Members of AGC Societies ?  New domestic employment and consulting opportunities for geoscientists - interpretation signage/boards, design of geotrails etc; particularly important during mining exploration downturns.  Consulting opportunities in developing countries where geoparks are now being nominated and developed.  Management roles in geoparks and mining parks, regional development and local government agencies.  Opportunity for geology related interests during early retirement and/or supporting community groups for employer supported geotourism projects.
  52. 52. Why Geotourism for Resource Companies and Mining Communities?  A mechanism for celebrating and raising awareness of mining heritage, past and present.  An opportunity to enhance community engagement and build value into ‘Social Licence’ considerations.  By celebrating geological heritage, and in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage, geotourism enhances awareness and understanding of key issues facing society, such as using our earth’s resources sustainably.  By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in society today, geotourism gives local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthens their identification with the area.
  53. 53. “A Vision Beyond Mine Site Rehabilitation - the largest national mining park in the world to be established to celebrate the significant role that mining has played for Australia’s development.” http://www.leisuresolutions.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/abstract_robinson-et-al_rev.docx • Native flora and fauna habitat conservation – all connected through corridors; • ‘Soft adventure’ recreation. • Coal mining heritage sites, geosites and geotrails. • Areas set aside for renewable energy generation (solar arrays, wind farms, biomass production) embracing light industrial sites and ‘value adding’ manufacturing. • Engagement with the six strategic hubs of the Strategic Aboriginal Culture and Enterprise Scheme of the Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation.
  54. 54. GEOTOURISM VISION FOR THE PILBARA GEOREGION * The opportunity to embrace through geotourism the Pilbara’s world-famous North Pole stromatolites, given the geosite’s world class profile as the oldest living community fossils on the planet, has considerable potential in establishing Australia as a ‘must see’ destination for fossil-rich geoheritage visitation. * This potential, when combined with the parallel development of the Nilpena Ediacaran fossil assemblage site in SA’s Flinders Ranges as well as the established Age of Dinosaurs museum in Winton, in Western Qld, will deliver for Australia an unparalleled tourism destination for domestic tourists – both ‘grey nomads’ and tour groups. * For the emerging, high value, FIT market particularly in China, high profile ‘scenic areas’ with outstanding natural heritage & cultural values, with outstanding ‘bucket list’ appeal.
  55. 55. STRATEGIC THEMES OF A GEOTOURISM DESTINATION MANAGEMENT PLAN (GDMP) FOR THE PILBARA GEOREGION * A key element of the GDMP of the Pilbara Georegion is its strategic themes, which highlight the points of difference of the Georegion compared with other destinations and provide a high- level experience. * It is based on a visitor-centric approach to destination planning and management. The strategic themes have been identified through a review of three core considerations.
  56. 56. STRATEGIC THEMES OF A GEOTOURISM DESTINATION MANAGEMENT PLAN (GDMP) FOR THE PILBARA GEOREGION * Strengths of the Georegion including existing signature experience STORIES as well as its outstanding natural, cultural and built assets, much of which has served the development of the Region’s resource development heritage. * Visitor research and data, including an understanding of the destination’s perception, awareness levels and demand for the existing offering from target market segments. * Analysis of the global domestic travel trends and an understanding of target markets that provide insights into the appeal of the destination and the motivations for and barriers to travel of target market segments.
  57. 57. Contact Details angus@leisuresolutions.com.au Tel: 0418 488 340 https://www.slideshare.net/leisuresolutions http://www.leisuresolutions.com.au/index.php/geotourism-industry-groups/ Information about Australian Geotourism and Geopark Development Activities http://www.agc.org.au/geoscience-in-australia/geotourism/ Australian Geoscience Council