When you tick a box to offset carbon on a flight or holiday, do you ever wonder where that money is spent?
Some farmers who have ventured into agritourism feel they owe it to their guests to reinvest a portion of their profits into environmental projects on the farm.
These are projects that tourists can see with a farm tour or a walk along a running creek.
On the foothills of Mount Roland in Tasmania’s north-west, Jodie McQueen is embracing her vision to create farm stays with a mission — benefiting the land, community and environmentally conscious traveler.
She has created her own regenerative farm fund model, where a set amount of income from guests is spent on conservation and restoration projects.
“I wanted guests to really see what their money had paid for and that they are making a difference,” Ms McQueen said.
Enhancing biodiversity, improving fencing infrastructure in sensitive areas and preventing land degradation are just some of the benefits.
Starting off with a creek restoration project, Ms McQueen knew she could not plant 600 trees on her own and was in desperate need of helpers.
She has partnered with her local Landcare group, Mount Roland Rivercare, and from one community tree-planting day, a seed for more projects had been sown.
“It really helped to build some great community connections that I didn’t expect when I set out with the fund,” Ms McQueen said.
For Mount Roland Rivercare secretary Greg Taylor, it has been a rewarding process to see landholders, the community and guests come together to conserve local landscapes.
“The energy associated with the idea of tree planting has just been overwhelming,” he said.
“Volunteers can be part of a great environmental project, which is satisfying, but I think one of the important things is the social networks that are built out of it and the connections.”
Sustainable agritourism venture
In Tasmania’s north-east, Holger Strie is also venturing down the path of agritourism.
In the past two years he has purchased three farms close to Notley Fern Gorge, a native rainforest above the Tamar Valley.
“We have interconnected a couple of properties so we are looking at doing a three-day farm experience down the track, looking at the biodiversity values of the area,” he said.
“We’ve got incredible wildlife around, with the remnant forests we do have.
“It’s an ideal space to showcase how we can actually manage agriculture, forestry and tourism.”
Mr Strie also runs a boutique tour company.
Some of the profits generated from the national trekking business are reinvested back into his Tasmanian farms.
He has set aside unproductive parts of the properties and steep gullies to plant a unique blend of species including Californian redwoods, blackwoods and she-oaks.
“We’re not looking at going into carbon trading, but actually forming a carbon bank that our business owns,” he said.
“A lot of the trees we’re planting now won’t be harvested for another 100 years, not in my lifetime.
“But that’s the vision we’ve got. It’s a long-term project and hopefully after me, someone can continue it.”